After one year in the presidential chair in the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin starts to think what he could do when his term expires. His face has become so known that another round as foreign intelligence officer is unlikely to succeed. Putin’s turn, to make a career as an environmental activist, surprised many who have followed the president’s agenda in Russia the last year.
Visiting Canada this week, Vladimir Putin expressed his long, and by most accounts, well-hidden admiration for environmentalists. In an interview with the Toronto Globe and Mail and Canadian TV, Putin said:
“I have often thought what I should do when my term expires. To be honest, I have always admired people who devoted their lives to environmental problems,” Putin said.
But the President is a man of action. He does not only admire the practical work by others, he wants to take part himself. Just like he did after being appointed the successor of Boris Yeltsin to head the Kremlin. First he took the pilot seat in a MiG fighter to show his greatness to the air force, thereafter he spent a night onboard a strategical nuclear submarine, the Karelia, in the sea outside Severomorsk, the home base for the Russian Northern Fleet, to honour the proud of the navy.
If this quoting should be interpreted that Putin himself has changed, or that he might have got some new, creative media advisors, is still to be answered. Mainly because it is still difficult for environmentalists working in Russia to forget his words from the summer of 1999, when the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda quoted Putin as saying:
“Most environmental groups work in Russia as cover-up for Western intelligence.”
Bellona takes, however, Putin on his words as environmentalist. In a letter to the Russian President today, Bellona offers Putin to join one of its rubber boats, in training or in action. Rubber boats have been with Bellona since the group started to work with industrial pollution in Norway back in 1986.
Bellona invites Putin to come to Norway to take a training ride on a rubber boat in the Oslo fjord, or, if it suits the President better, Bellona could also bring the boat to Murmansk where the weather at sea is more ruff.