Russian President Vladimir Putin has consolidated authority to such an extent that any form of mass public protest in Moscow is practically inconceivable these days. However, room for dissent exists in other regions of Russia.
A major environmental protest has reignited in recent weeks in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, a resource-rich autonomous republic in central Russia, situated between the Volga River and the Ural Mountains. Protesters are opposing efforts by an Austrian-based global manufacturer of wood-based panels, Kronospan, to set up a plant in an Ufa suburb.
The plant is slated to make particleboard. Local residents worry that the plant’s heavy use of formaldehyde, a key element in the particleboard-making process, will result in the improper dumping of toxic waste and lead to a surge in health problems, including higher cancer rates, asthma and other lung-related health issues.
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Peter J. Marzalik is an independent analyst of Islamic affairs in the Russian Federation.