Russian History


Environmental Conditions

In the Soviet system, environmentally threatening incidents such as the bursting of an oil pipeline received little or no public notice, and remedial actions were slow or nonexistent. Government officials felt that natural resources were abundant enough to afford waste, that the land could easily absorb any level of pollution, and that stringent control measures were an unjustifiable hindrance to economic advancement. In the 1990s, after decades of such practices, the government categorized about 40 percent of Russia's territory (an area about three-quarters as large as the United States) as under high or moderately high ecological stress. Excluding areas of radiation contamination, fifty-six areas have been identified as environmentally degraded regions, ranging from full-fledged ecological disaster areas to moderately polluted areas.