Pollution suffocating Siberia. But the scientists are silent
by Vladimir Rozanskij

The Siberian section of the Russian Academy of Sciences has decided not to make public the results on pollution in the region. Waterways 80% polluted; children already born with leukaemia; cancer diseases widespread among population. Justification for the silence: "Avoid alarmism" and "to avoid fomenting smear campaigns against Russia". The population revolts.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - "Krasnoyarsk is the most polluted city in the world, ha-ha-ha": academic Valentin Parmon would have laughed, perhaps ironically, perhaps embarrassed, during a four-hour meeting in Novosibirsk on the pollution of Siberia.

The meeting, held on 29 March, brought together the presidium of the Siberian section of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The shocking fact is that in the end, the scientists decided to keep secret the data that emerged, which points to a known tragedy: waterways polluted up to 80%; children who are already born with leukaemia; cancer diseases widespread in the population.

News of the meeting emerged thanks to a correspondent from Novaya Gazeta, who was able to view the video of the meeting. The news is provoking widespread and profound scandal.

The discussion on the fight against pollutants in Russia has been raging for years; but it had also been neglected for a long time by Vladimir Putin's post-Soviet regime. The country, which bases its economy on the exploitation of traditional energy sources, today finds itself facing global competition from alternative sources, without being adequately prepared.

In Krasnoyarsk, a city located in the heart of Siberia on the banks of the Yenisei river, the situation is truly dramatic, to the point that many children are born already ill with leukaemia. The figures of the Siberian ecological disaster are hardly a secret, and are regularly published in reports from the Federal Ministry of Nature Protection and other public agencies.

In the video released in the media, academic Parmon makes fun of a UN document, which cites the problems of Krasnodar. But according to the academician, "we know very well that it is good there, at least when the weather is good; without wind and rain, some problems arise ".

Another expert, the director of the Institute for Atmosphere Optics in Tomsk, Prof. Igor Ptashnik, released a report prepared together with other institutions, in which the results of the studies on the years 2017-2019 are exposed. It highlights how in many parts of Siberia the level of air pollution is very high, in the percentage of 78%, much higher than in the cities of European Russia.

Over 15 Siberian cities reveal a high rate of benzopyrene in the air, one of the most carcinogenic elements produced by the combustion of organic substances at high temperatures. The level of this substance exceeds the alarm levels by more than 10 times; more than 100 times in some areas, such as Kyzyl, Zima, Minusinsk, Norilsk, and in Krasnoyarsk itself.

Ptashnik's report assesses “the need to buy agricultural products from China instead of local ones, as they are much safer from an ecological point of view”. The Chinese have long been taking more effective measures in this area, banning several dangerous pesticides still used in Russia.


The aquifers are particularly apprehensive, close to the great Siberian rivers and basins, such as Tuva, Khakhasia, Altaj, all with pollution rates over 70%. Even in Novosibirsk, the capital of central Siberia, over 80% of the aquifers are polluted. In Tomsk, one of the largest cities in southwestern Siberia, the situation is similar. In Krasnoyarsk, Kemerovo and in the province of the Altai mountains, on the border between China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, cancer and childhood diseases due to pollution are widespread.

The situation worsens with the effect of global warming, which causes a further deterioration in air quality even in traditionally very cold areas, such as the provinces of Bratsk and Norilsk.

It is surprising that the academics have decided not to confirm the data with official reports. The reason given is: "To avoid frightening the population too much with exaggerated alarmism, especially since it is not possible to intervene quickly", as Parmon said, but also to " to avoid fomenting smear campaigns against Russia, already so widespread all over the world ".

Other academics have stressed that "this data cannot be released on the eve of the elections".

The local press, however, is not silent, and in Krasnoyarsk itself various ecological events have been taking place for some time to raise awareness among the population (see photo).