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World Bank mission to assess Baikal Project
Tuesday, March 26, 2002

ITAR-TASS News Agency By Andrei Sitov

The World Bank will send a technical mission to Russia soon for assessment of an environmental project at the Lake Baikal, the bank's vice- president for Europe and Central Asia, Johannes Lynn, told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.

He will accompany World Bank president James Wolfensohn who plans to visit Russia on April 4-5. Wolfensohn will meet with President Vladimir Putin and other leaders.

Lynn was uncertain about precise dates of the technical mission that he said would be clear by Wolfensohn's visit.

After the mission's report, the World Bank is ready to discuss with the Russian government financial matters in the format of the old ecological project or of arrangements for a new one.

Specialists agree that the old loan for environmental protection is used in Russia ineffectively. This gave rise to disputes as to who should be manager of the project and whether it should be extended.

Russian authorities want to use the remaining loan for reconstruction of water treatment facilities at the Baikal pulp and paper plant.

This is very important for the local population from a socio- economic perspective.

However, the World Bank is under strong pressure of environmental and other groups that demand the closure of the pulp and paper plant in interests of environmental protection.

The main task of the technical mission is to find a weighed solution or at least prepare it.


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