"Ecological expertise shouldn't hinder the development of the economy" - Putin
Vladimir Putin, one of the world's most powerful politicians, has slammed environmentalists for being a thorn in the side of economic progress.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