A new oil pipeline that will run from the Russian region of Buryatiya into China is being hailed by industry officials and government leaders as a major economic boon, but many local residents beg to differ. Construction of the pipeline will involve bulldozing land and felling trees — environmental problems anywhere and cultural travesties in a region characterized by Buryat shamanism, a belief system built around respect for nature. The proposed path of the pipeline would cut through Tunykinsky National Park, where development is banned. But Yukos, the oil company behind the project, has figured out a way around that concern: It wants the park’s boundaries moved. The company claims Buryatiya’s grassroots environmentalists, who fear logging and oil spills, are financed by the U.S. in a secret plot to thwart Russia’s economic development.
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