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Planet Ark World Environment News Kyoto is Auschwitz says Kremlin aide

Date: 15-Apr-04
Country: RUSSIA
Author: Tom Miles

Andrei Illarionov, Putin's economic adviser, has recommended the president reject the landmark environmental pact, according to a document obtained by Reuters. That would kill off the treaty, which needs Russia's backing to come into force.

In sardonic remarks quoted by Interfax news agency, the outspoken Illarionov told reporters in Russia's second city of St Petersburg that Kyoto's impact would be devastating.

"The Kyoto Protocol is a death pact, however strange it may sound, because its main aim is to strangle economic growth and economic activity in countries that accept the protocol's requirements," he said.

"At first we wanted to call this agreement a kind of international Gosplan," he said, referring to the commission which ran the Soviet Union's command economy.

"But then we realised Gosplan was much more humane and so we ought to call the Kyoto Protocol an international Gulag," a reference to the Soviet labour camps where millions died.

"In the Gulag though, you got the same ration daily and it didn't get smaller day by day... In the end we had to call the Kyoto protocol an international Auschwitz," he said.

Illarionov is a respected liberal economist and has often been at odds with the government on economic and social reform.

But his analogy between an environmental treaty and a death camp where the Nazis killed about 1.5 million people is likely to trigger condemnations from Jewish groups which have often deplored such comparisons as trivialisations of the Holocaust.

He is also one of the most prominent players in Russian policy on Kyoto, but it is unclear how strong his influence on the president is.

The government, which includes several influential pro-Kyoto ministers, will also put their views to Putin before his foreign minister makes a formal recommendation to parliament, which has the final say.

Russia has held sway over Kyoto's fate since the 2001 pullout of the United States, the world's biggest polluter, which is now keen to see the pact buried. But it also faces pressure from the European Union, which supports it.

The 1997 treaty seeks to rein in global warming with restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases, cutting emissions to five percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

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Reuters
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