Putin Orders Arctic Cleanup

MOSCOW, April 30 (UPI) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has ordered the removal of thousands of old fuel barrels polluting his nation’s Arctic territory.

“They leak and they go into the soil,” Putin said during a recent visit in which he helped scientists tag polar bears on Franz Joseph Land, an archipelago in the Barents Sea.

Putin suggested communities organize weekend cleanups to remove the barrels and other refuse left at military and civilian outposts.

“We need to organize not just a subbotnik, but a voskresnik,” Putin said of the Soviet-era tradition in which communities clean their neighborhoods.

In video footage of the trip, Putin talked of Russia’s plans to extract natural resources from the area and of the importance of protecting the environment, The Moscow Times reported Friday.

During the trip, sponsored by the Russian Geographical Society, Putin helped tag polar bears and attached a collar to one bear.

“It’s a heavy paw. The master of the Arctic,” Putin said as he held the paw of a sedated bear.

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