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The Russian President’s comments are likely to raise him to a level of appreciation among environmentalists previously only enjoyed by George Bush.

On Wednesday Putin told journalists working for a Moscow news agency that
environmentalists were being used by foreign competitors to undermine
Russia’s development.

He said: “Ecological expertise must not hinder the development of the
country and the economy.

“As soon as we start to do anything, one line of attack against us is always
about ecological problems.”

Putin said environmentalists were funded by foreigners who wanted stifle
Russia’s growth for their own commercial interests.

He gave examples of a port near Finland and a huge oil pipeline, which
environmentalists had said was too close to Lake Baikal, went over areas
prone to earthquakes and risked polluting the Pacific Ocean.

The pipeline is expected to carry 1.6 million barrels of oil a day once
complete.

By Sam Bond

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