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Putin to look into whether military base on Wrangel Island is problem for polar bears

October 14, 2014, 18:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Environmentalists fear Defense Ministry's future military base on Wrangel Island in the Arctic can pose problems to polar bears

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Polar bears seen on Wrangel Island

Polar bears seen on Wrangel Island

© ITAR-TASS/Arkady Sukhonin

MOSCOW, October 14. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to look into how justified the environmentalists’ fears are the Defense Ministry's future military base on Wrangel Island in the Arctic can pose problems to polar bears. He made the promise at a meeting of the Human Rights Council in response to a complaint from one council’s members, Director of Greenpeace Russia Sergey Tsyplyonkov.

The environmentalist argues that Wrangel Island is one of the last safe havens where female polar bears can give birth to their offspring. Any human activity in this area, such as the construction of a military base or the recent amphibious operation, may scare away the Red Book animals forever, thereby putting the species on the verge of extinction.

“As far as construction work on Wrangel Island is concerned, it all has to be checked. Hasn’t there been a military base there ever before?” Putin asked the Greenpeace activist. Tsyplyonkov was unable to offer an off-the-cuff reply but at the same time recalled that back last year the directorate of the wild-life preserve last year strongly came out against the idea of building two tourist cabins, because even such insignificant human interference may pose risks to a comfortable birth.

“During certain seasons even a ship sailing past the island a mile away may create risks,” Tsyplyonkov said.

In reply Putin explained that Russia these days was mostly restoring abandoned Soviet military facilities.

“Basically we are restoring what has been lost. I shall look into it,” Putin promised.

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