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'There are party places that would surprise many of my European and American colleagues'

Siberia's river transport system must be urgently improved- Security Council secretary Patrushev

By 0 and 0 and 0
08 August 2012


river Angara, tributuary of Yenisei, Western Siberia

River Angara, tributuary of Yenisei, Western Siberia. Pictures: Vera Salnitskaya 

Speaking in Krasnoyarsk, Nikolai Patrushev expressed concern at the 'critical' condition of the waterways.

Patrushev was speaking amid concern after the summer drought at low water levels in many rivers which has prevented shipping from delivering vital supplies to Arctic settlements. Smoke from forest fires has worsened the problem, hampering traffic on the Yenisei River.   

'Practice shows that the potential of the largest rivers of Urals, Siberia and the Far East has been used to a small extent in fulfilling the tasks of economic growth and ensuring defence and security,' he said.

'The emergency situation brought by the wildfires has limited transportation on Yenisei river basin, and showed that in face the whole system is anyway in a complicated - if not to say critical - condition. There is no alternative to the Amur, Yenisei, Lena and Ob river routes. The lives of  people settled by the rivers' banks totally depends on them. More than 18 million tons of cargo travel by river to the north of Siberia. More than five million people annually are transported by rivers, too. 

'But the state of the Urals, Siberia and Far East river transport is well below the demand from the region.'

Warning that 'many issues are neglected', he stressed: 'There is an urgent need in the modern small cargo boats to provide for the Northern Delivery.'

Newspaper Rossiyaskaya Gazeta also highlighted concern of the condition of river ports and navigation problems on some key rivers. 

The river fleet from previous years is denuded by as much as 70 per cent, it is claimed. 

'There is a high risk that in several years from now there might be nothing left of it,' said the paper. 

Patrushev's plans to travel by river from Krasnoyarsk to Dudinka were subject to doubt because of low water levels and smog, it was claimed. 

river Angara, tributuary of Yenisei, Western Siberia

river Angara, tributuary of Yenisei, Western Siberia

Wildfires and low water levels on river Angara, tributuary of Yenisei. Pictures: Yenisei River Shipping Company 

Recently Kransoyark city and region has been the focus of concern over raging summer fires. 

'We will be travelling on Alexander Matrosov boat, assembled in 1954 - which is a best boat of the Yenisei River Shipping Company, yet another confirmation of how complicated the situation is,' said the former head of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

He also highlighted weaknesses in security at key dams linked to hydro-electricity plants in Siberia, making clear this is now a priority.

'We have got to pay attention to update of technical state and anti-terrorist protection of the most critically important, and potentially dangerous, objects of the region,' he said.

Patrushev stressed the economic importance of an eastern - as well as a western - sea route from the mouths of the Siberian rivers. 

'In practice, the main transport flows of the North Sea Way are oriented toward the West, and all logistics are arranged for transportation en route Krasnoyarsk-Dudinka-Murmansk. 

'There is no regular navigation in the eastern sector of the North Sea Way. The situation cannot be called normal," said Patrushev. 

He stressed Russia's plans to create infrastructure hubs along the Northern Sea Route in the Arctic to be used as temporary stations for Russian warships and border guard vessels.

These moves are part of Russia's declared policy of developing its interests in the Arctic. 

'Work on issues envisaging the protection of Russia's national interests as well as measures of state support for domestic organisations that work in the maritime and river fields is nearing its completion,' he said. 

Comments (3)

Most people imagine 'Siberia' to something like a wild European country but in the east. The whole of Siberia could take in 4 USAs, yes 4 entire USAs! with room to spare. Mostly the settled areas are within say 500 miles (800kms) of the Chinese border, except for riverine settlements heading north. Even that belt from the Urals to Vladivostok is at least 3000 miles long! So just southern Siberia + southern part RFE is 1,500,000 sq miles in area... ! Its probably the largest undeveloped wilderness on Earth, outside of the Antarctic. If it lost its permafrost throiugh climate change anf became habitable again (millions/billions of mosquitos...!) its resources would make it the richest region on Earth.

It also has an awesome natural beauty. And only 40 million people. Its like N.America in the 1700s.
Philip, UK
20/09/2012 16:31
I'd rather go to Majorca, Stella! the rivers are beautiful, I lived close to Angara - but I do think that they need to get new boats and develop better service, to develop tourism. Right now I believe its quite rough there... lets see if i'm wring
Maksim, Moscow now, but born in Siberia
08/08/2012 12:36
I would have gone on the river cruise, if only i knew the boats were reliable... the river looks great, and its always been my dream to explore Siberia like this.
Stella S, Majorca
08/08/2012 11:42

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