Environmental Problems of East Central Europe

By F. W. Carter; David Turnock | Go to book overview

5

The Soviet Union andthe successor states

David Turnock

The Soviet era

The Soviet Union has left a legacy of severe environmental problems for the successor states (Figure 5.1) as a result of decades of economic development driven by the pressures of the arms race (Bridges and Bridges 1996; Singleton 1987; Welsh 1996). Of course there has for long been a view that resources are inexhaustible (Bassin 1993; Diment and Slezkine 1993) and that nature's challenges should not 'condemn the country to permanent backwardness' (Shaw 1999, p.128). Yet there is a traditional 'ecological' conscience among the Russian people, since a nature protection organisation emerged back in 1853 and many of the leading ecologists in the Russian Empire were trained at Tartu University. The Soviet Union initially contributed to global conservation theory and practice through an All-Russian Conservation Society in 1924. However, while the first socialist government was environmentally friendly, nothing was allowed to constrain Stalin's vision of a new economic geography with a more continental emphasis, complete with major canals and river diversions (Rostankowski 1982). Stalin used science for a war on nature to rectify its defects (Burke 1956), as the early strategy in Siberia was followed up by a nuclear programme which was central to the postwar drive for growth. But 'the extreme application of this anthropocentrism became a key characteristic of the whole Soviet nation and is one of the major factors that brought the FSU to the brink of environmental crisis' (Mirovitskaya 1998, p.36). The existing system of nature conservation was practically abandoned and the environmental organisations ceased to exist (Komarov 1980).

In the 1960s the Academy of Sciences campaigned successfully against the closure of the nature reserves (zapovedniks), though the network remained restricted (Fischer 1981; Weiner 1988a, 1988b), and lobbies were able to achieve cuts in pollution, notably through the 1987 decree over pollution abatement on Lake Baikal following pressure from academics and intellectuals (Gustafson 1981). A commission of enquiry in 1986 recommended a Lake Baikal National Park covering both eastern and western shores, as well as three nature reserves (Vorobyev and Martynov 1989). Organisations grew from the late 1950s (Kelly 1976b) - examples being the Tartu Young People's Nature Protection Corps

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Environmental Problems of East Central Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgement xvii
  • Abbreviations xviii
  • Part I - Context 1
  • 1 - Introduction 3
  • References 16
  • 2 - Environmental Politics and Transition 22
  • References 37
  • 3 - Environmental Movements, Nation States and Globalisation 40
  • 4 - The Central Importance of the European Union 56
  • References 89
  • 5 - The Soviet Union and the Successor States 92
  • Part II - Country Studies 117
  • 6 - Czech Republic 119
  • 7 - East Germany 139
  • References 155
  • 8 - Hungary 157
  • References 180
  • 9 - Poland 183
  • References 203
  • 10 - Slovakia 207
  • 11 - Slovenia 228
  • References 246
  • Part III - Country Studies 249
  • 12 - Albania 251
  • References 277
  • 13 - Bosnia and Hercegovina 283
  • Note 303
  • 14 - Bulgaria 305
  • 15 - Croatia 330
  • 16 - Macedonia 347
  • References 364
  • 17 - Romania 366
  • References 391
  • 18 - Yugoslavia 396
  • Part IV - Conclusion 417
  • 19 - Conclusion 419
  • References 431
  • Index 433
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