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Friday, 19 April 2013

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Russia to submit Arctic claims by year's end

RUSSIA: The federal government will submit its final Arctic territorial claims with the United Nations by the end of the year, the country's leading Arctic scientist said.

Artur Chilingarov, the veteran explorer who led the expedition to plant a Russian flag on the seabed at the North Pole in 2007, told Rossia 24 television that Russia's claim to a portion of the Arctic shelf would be filed with the United Nations Commission on the Law of the Sea by December.

"I think we are seriously prepared," he said. "We have gathered all the necessary information needed to make a just decision, including the experience of other countries."

Chilingarov led a series of expeditions over the past few years seeking to prove that the undersea Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Russia's continental shelf.

If approved, the claim based on this research would see Russia gain an additional 1.2 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone, Interfax reported.

Chilingarov's announcement came the same day the government published a new long-term strategy for Arctic development.

The State Programme for the Arctic, which defines government policy for at least the next eight years, was published on the Regional Development Ministry's website.

The law would establish a mandatory review of any business activities that could pose an environmental hazard, starting from a "presumption of environmental danger of any proposed activity," RIA-Novosti reported. In other provisions, the law would bar the privatization of any airlines in the region and allow certain regions to be closed to aircraft for environmental reasons. It would also ban off-road travel in the tundra. While the document does make note of the need to defend the region, it does not directly mention rumoured plans to close areas like the Yamal Peninsula to nonresidents.

THE MOSCOW TIMES

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