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Putin says environment priority for expected new term

Putin says environment priority for expected new term
March 1, 2018

MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said improving the environment in the country would be a priority in the next few years, speaking ahead of polls this month expected to extend his Kremlin term to 2024.

"It is hard to talk about a long and healthy life when to this day millions of people are forced to drink water that does not meet standards," he said during a state of the nation address.

This was also the case "if black snow is falling, like in Krasnoyarsk, when people in industrial hubs can go for weeks without seeing the sun because of smog," he told lawmakers, top government officials and celebrities.

"We have toughened the environmental requirements for enterprises in order to reduce industrial emissions," he added, mentioning new measures set to come into force in 2019 and 2021.

The address provided the first idea of Putin's policy priorities for a widely expected new term, after an election on March 18 that he is all but guaranteed to win.

Smog is a major problem for industrial cities like Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and levels of fine, toxic particles that penetrate deep into the respiratory tract are recorded well above the recommended limits set by the World Health Organization.

Areas of natural beauty are under threat, including Lake Baikal, which experts say is undergoing its gravest crisis in recent history.

Environmental activists in the country have faced harassment and imprisonment.

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