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Introduce flogging to keep Siberia's jewel in the pristine state it deserves

By Natalya Kobets
19 September 2013

This is my second story for The Siberian Times, and again it is about garbage cleaning.

It is quite mind-boggling what people leave behind after the end of a holiday at this pristine, world famous lake - from fridges to huge shoe collections, to toilet bowls and mattress frames. Picture: Sergey Filinin.   

It sounds like a weird hobby doesn't it? Perhaps I should make it my job, start travelling the world, compare the places with the biggest amounts of rubbish, and stage competitions for the most unusual trash ever thrown - and found. What do you think? Not the best way to spend my future, I reckon.  

Look at the EN+ '360 minutes for Baikal' major clean up which they have organised for the third year now - I feel that the amounts of rubbish taken off the shores of this wonderful lake just doesn't get smaller. Although... when EN+ teams came to Baikal for the first time in 2011 they had a heap of garbage so huge that it was visible from space. They took around 500 bags - each with a 130 litre capacity  - from Ulirba Cape. There were only a hundred of people working on it. 

Last year they had 400 volunteers, with school children and students joining in; together they managed to clean up 22  spots around Baikal, picking up three times more rubbish than in 2011. This year I was among a small army of one thousand people that landed on the shores of Russia's biggest lake, the deepest and most unique in the world. 

'At some point we even had to shut the online registration on '360 minutes for Baikal' website. So many people wanted to come and take part that we were not sure we would provide them with all the necessities. We were also surprised by the wide geography of our volunteers, for example, some of them wished to come from cities thousands of miles away from Baikal, like Bryansk and Voronezh in central Russia,' said Yelena Rollins, EN+ public relations director.

There were also a couple of teams villages around Baikal who came and asked to take part in the major clean up operation, which was great. They were sent uniforms and inventory. 

360 minutes for Baikal September 2013


360 minutes for Baikal September 2013


360 minutes for Baikal September 2013


360 minutes for Baikal September 2013


360 minutes for Baikal September 2013

I earlier suggested the introduction of big fines, like 50,000 to 100,000 roubles ($1580 to $3150) for people who don't have a care in the world at what they leave behind. But there is no guarantee these people would pay up. Pictures: Sergey Filinin.   

It is quite mind-boggling what people leave behind after the end of a holiday at this pristine, world famous lake. From fridges to huge shoe collections, to toilet bowls and mattress frames. Yet I also went to the same spot where I cleaned last year, and I am glad to say that there was significantly less rubbish. 

Yelena Rollins told me that her dream would be once to say to volunteers: 'I am happy to start our last ecological event' because the lakeside is perfectly clean. But when this might happen, she cannot say. 

Perhaps I should check Wiki for the total area of Lake Baikal's shore, calculate the number of hours and manpower needed to clear it all up, divide it by the 360 minutes we spend each year on our clean-up... but something tells me that even a daily six hour operation would not be enough to make the territory around Baikal completely free of this pollution.

I earlier suggested the introduction of big fines, like 50,000 to 100,000 roubles ($1580 to $3150) for people who don't have a care in the world at what they leave behind. But there is no guarantee these people would pay up. 

We need to introduce some basic yet effective measures that would make people stop and think before they start littering. 

My idea is that some light corporal punishment would do the job: if you threw a bottle in the bushes instead of the rubbish bin, here you go, get a lash of the cane on your behind. If you threw a full rubbish bag out, then it should be five lashes. 

It should not even be to hurt, but to humiliate, like how can I, a grown up person, be treated like this? But if only you saw what these grown up people leave behind them. 

I am sure this measure will be effective. A colleague of mine, Evgeniy, said that 'if such system was created, he would leave his current job and  became one of the 'punishment team'. Now if you were to see Evgeniy, 182 cm tall and 120 kg, a candidate for master of sport in rugby and sambo, you would understand the power behind his words.

And now see a bit of magnificent lake Baikal... clean as it should be. All pictures courtesy of Sergey Filinin.   

Lake Baikal Siberia


Lake Baikal Siberia


Lake Baikal Siberia


Lake Baikal Siberia



Natalya Kobets

Natalya Kobets, 34, is a Novosibirsk-born journalist, currently residing in Krasnoyarsk. She works for 'Sphere of Influence' business magazine

See Natalya's story about the eco-rafting weekend on the Mana River, one of the most beautiful rivers of this part of Siberia, a tributary to mighty Yenisei River. 

The rafting trip, which gathered 25 volunteers, was organised by RusHydro (one of Russia's largest power generating companies) and its daughter company KrasnoyarskEnergoSbit (Krasnoyarsk Energy Distributor). 

Comments (10)

An absolutely brilliant idea, it would never happen in Aus but who knows.
Alex, Australia
22/12/2013 10:48
1
0
Great article, Natalya, and beautiful pictures of a beautiful country. I propose a stiff fine that can be worked off by helping to clean up the rubbish left by others. We have similar problems here in USA and it seems the younger generation is mostly to blame. I read "Travels in Siberia" by Ian Frazier and it made me wish I could afford to visit and see at least a part of that huge part of Russia. He mentioned in the book how people carry their own food when driving by auto across Siberia and that every road side camp is littered with lots of trash. Keep up the good work in trying to get people to appreciate the beauty all around them and to protect it for those who come after us.
Thank you
Robert, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
20/12/2013 23:50
1
0
Yes!!!! I support this but think it should be 100 lashes for a can, a week of punishment for more litter.
richard, eureka, ca, usa
08/10/2013 23:37
2
0
yuk the rubbish. disgusting people
Nadia , France
23/09/2013 13:13
2
0
i wonder how much it costs to bring a team that big? still, good someone bothers to take care of clearing someone else's rubbish
Andrew , Sweden
21/09/2013 22:06
3
0
Russians are not too politically correct are they:)
May , China
20/09/2013 19:24
5
0
What's wrong with an old fashioned idea of introducing the fines?
Tim, Hong Kon
20/09/2013 11:22
7
0
Ieva, does it matter who litter - Russian or foreigner? This is a problem not only Baikal, not only Russia. You have seen, perhaps, the Estonian campaign Let's Do It World - 2008 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkn_xQS__U0
Sorry, the video in Russian. Here is more information http://www.letsdoitworld.org/
Natalya, Russia
20/09/2013 10:36
6
0
Is it Russian or foreign tourists who leave the rubbish, or there is no way to say? Is it in the areas where the 'wild' campings are allowed?
Ieva, Vilnius Lithuania
20/09/2013 10:07
6
0
people are such swines sometimes, pardon my French. But this is not only Baikal's problem Natalya, take a walk about some of UK cities. I've been to Edinburgh recently, my word the streets were littered... specially after Friday night
J T , UK/Europe
20/09/2013 00:35
10
0
1

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