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Environmental Policy in the USSR in 1986–1991

ФИО студента: Grigory Yakovlev

Руководитель: Oleg V. Khlevniuk

Кампус/факультет: Faculty of Humanities

Программа: History (Bachelor)

Оценка: 8

Год защиты: 2020

Throughout the history of the Soviet Union, the environmental protection was not one of the priority goals of the governing authorities – nature was perceived as a source of resources, so the attitude toward the environment was mostly utilitarian. However, this attitude was gradually changing, and the Chernobyl accident on April 26 1986 made both governing authorities and the Soviet society reevaluate their perception of nature. Soon after the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet authorities were forced to take more specific measures – on August 14 1986, the Council of Ministers and the Supreme Soviet of the USSR issued a joint decree "On the cessation of work on the transfer of part of the flow of Northern and Siberian rivers" . According to this decree, the large-scale project to change the flow of several rivers including the Northern Dvina, Pechora and others to irrigate arid territories of North Caucasus and Central Asia – this project has been in development since the 1960s. However, the project was exceptionally negatively perceived by various public organizations due to the tremendous impact of the project on the environment. In particular, in 1985, at the VIII Congress of the Union of Writers of the RSFSR, participants unanimously voted to appeal to the Secretary-General of the USSR to shutdown the project. Under public pressure and the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet authorities had to close the project. However, the most important step taken by the Soviet authorities regarding the reform of the nature protection system in the state was the resolution "On radical perestroika of nature protection", issued jointly by the Supreme Council and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on January 7 1988 . Following this resolution, it was decided to create a new "Union-Republican State Committee of the USSR for nature protection" , which was named "State Committee for the protection of nature and natural resources of the USSR" (Goskompriroda). State Committee for nature protection was the first state department in Soviet history which was responsible for the implementation of environmental policy in the country – before this function had been performed by units of various state agencies, including Goskomgidromet, Gosleshoz and others. Moreover, Goskompriroda was obliged to develop new measures to improve the efficiency of nature protection and the rational use of natural resources, and to monitor compliance with environmental regulations. Besides, the State Committee of natural resources had the right to suspend the activities of enterprises and construction and expansion of industrial or other facilities if these works were not conducted in accordance with environmental legislation. Thus, this work is devoted to the analysis of the activities of the departments responsible for implementing environmental policy in the Soviet Union - in particular, the actions of Goskompriroda in the period from January 1988 until the collapse of the USSR will be accurately studied due to the uniqueness of this authority for Soviet history.

Full text (added May 21, 2020)

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