D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi

Elena Musikhina


                     Elena Musikhina and Elizabeth May


Time is running out for Elena Musikhina
and all of us to seek asylum

Time is running out for Elena Musikhina who was a university professor and researcher. She was a professor at Irkutsk Technical University in Siberia who had been studying environmental issues around the Lake Baikal region. She and her husband Mikhail fled Russia for their lives on October 10, 2015. In January 2016, they claimed refugee status in Canada. However, appeals to remain in Canada have failed and their deportation hearing is set for November 6. 

The author supports their request for refugee status or for permanent residency if that is offered. The main reason is that he believes their story of persecution and how they fear for their lives if they return to Russia or even go elsewhere outside of Canada. Their fear is not imagined and is justified by circumstances around Lake Baikal. 

Coincidentally, the author has completed a thesis on The Poetic Interpretation of The Selden Map. It deals with a Chinese map drawn during the Ming Dynasty. The author has extensively researched Lake Baikal because it was regarded by the Chinese as the North Sea or the northernmost territory as far back as the Han Dynasty. It was only during the Manchu Dynasty that Lake Baikal was ceded to the Russian Federation. Under the Treaty of Nerchinsk (1689) Russia secured its claim to Transbaikalia or the area east of Lake Baikal as well as gaining right of passage for its trade caravans to Beijing. Today, China is not issuing Panda Bonds to corporations of a Russian oligarch for purposes of good-will, but perhaps to secure the output of aluminum smelters or the smelters themselves, water and eventually to extend territory.   

Much of the author's research on Lake Baikal utilized Russian sources. He does not though cite domain addresses in this report because he wishes to protect his readers' safety and security. By that he means that there were repeated attacks on his computer from Russian sources over the last year which sought to implant a Javascript program (ie. the Java computer program was originally developed by the Canadian James Gosling). The purpose of the virus was to transform his computer into a zombie which would mine bitcoin. One of these attacks involved his research on the death of Colin Madsen. Another two attacks came after he researched The Magnistsky Act on Sputnik. The author does not wish to overdramatize matters; but, as he is in the midst of writing this essay an unusual notice has just appeared on his screen threatening a "computer put down in 90 seconds" followed by a black screen for several seconds. The notice does not use the conventional expression "shut down", but rather "put down" as you would an animal.


                  Exchange Student Colin Madsen

There are many strange things that happen around Lake Baikal. For example, they include otherwordly UFO sightings. However, the strangest occurrence was a real circumstance. It involved the disappearance and murder of Colin Madsen who had been a linguistics student at Moscow Linguistic University, Irkutsk. He spoke fluent Russian. Colin had visited Arshan village in the Tunkinsky District of the Russian Republic of Buryatia in the Russian Federation on four occasions. Arshan is located in a valley at 900 meters. However, on the fifth time he left his Arshan lodge in mysterious circumstances in the middle of a cold night on March 27th, 2016 and was later found dead one and a half kilometers away on April 4th in the Sayan Mountain Range. A British university professor and his wife have accused Russian police of covering up the murder of their son. 

Generally speaking, the Russian view is that Colin overdosed on drugs, walked into the woods at night, lost his way and died of hypothermia. However, there is forensic evidence that points to a beating before he died. It may be no coincidence that prior to Colin's beating that Oleg Kudinov who was head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs signed departmental order No. 322 in 2014 which allowed police to detain anyone and beat out testimony. The evidence also suggests that someone tied Colin up and delivered a blow to his head. 

It is believed that he was killed elsewhere and his body dropped on the Eastern Sayan Mountain Range. The fact is that police undertook very little investigation into Colin's disappearance and this along with the forensic evidence suggests a cover-up; although, the specific perpetrators of the crime have not been identified. His step-father and mother had asked President Trump to put pressure on President Putin to investigate the death as a murder. In retrospect, one conjectures that their faith in Trump to influence President Putin may have been misplaced as it is clearly the reverse situation due to Trump's Krompromat.

One can say without hesitation that Colin Madsen was an environmentalist. His mother recalls how Colin had a love of the outdoors. This led him to volunteer with environmental groups in the Buryatia area. "He helped build hiking trails around Lake Baikal for a Russian nonprofit called The Great Baikal Trail and volunteered with local activists from Greenpeace, participating in several protests". His obituary reads that he supported many environmental causes despite his limited student budget.  

The young exchange student appears to have been murdered because of his love for the environment and his liking for the environmental cause. He wanted to protect the pristine environment around Lake Baikal. He would have been well aware of how the waters were threatened by raw sewage, algae and industrial pollutants. He knew that 23% of the world's fresh water was at risk along with 3200 plant and animal species. 

Something of importance should be emphasized. A couple of months prior to his murder, Colin was warned by authorities that his activities were not acceptable nor to be tolerated. Elena Musikhina received a similar warning from her workplace and from authorities. She was brought before the vice-rector of her university in September 2015 and warned that criminal charges would be brought against her because of her political activities.

The Canadian refugee tribunal has vastly minimized,  misundertood and mischaracterized the situation as work related problems. Perhaps, this is do to the fact that they have so few Russians applying for political asylum. In 2016 there were only 95 refugee claimants. The tribunal simply does not understand political persecution along with legal and human rights violations in Russia as does our Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland who was the prime mover of the Magnitsky Act to Canada; although, implementation of the sanctions in Canada has been slow--especially in the specialized steel sector.

The tribunal also claims that because the applicants were free to leave that this is evidence that they were not persecuted. Ostensibly, though, husband and wife only left for a visit and not a stay. For all intents and purposes the State believed that they would return. All the author can reply to that criticism is that if they were found "accidentally" dead in Russia then they would not be leaving freely nor would they have any need for political asylum.

Furthermore, Russian authorities planned to accuse them under Section 282 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Elena and her husband took these threats seriously. They left Russia before these threats were carried out. Russia let them leave to solve the problem one way or the other before a final solution was applied. The threats to prosecute by the authorities and the warnings of prosecution by the vice rector at the university seem to be the very definition of persecution. Credible and verifiable warnings of imminent prosecution for environmental concern is persecution and would continue to be persecution if they were arrested and sentenced.

One should be clear about what Article 282 entails. Generally, it pertains to actions aimed at the incitement of hatred or enmity. It can involve affiliation to any social group, if these acts have been committed in public or with the use of mass media. This would apply to a social group such as Blue Wave which has also been defined as a "foreign agent" and basically has been put out of existence.

While fines are applied as punishment there are more onerous provisions which can restrict work and income. For example, a university professor associated with an environmental group (where group is defined vaguely) might find themselves in dire circumstances. A convicted person can be deprived of wage or salary or any other income for up to two years or the right to hold specified offices. Furthermore, they can be deprived of liberty for up to two years.

For illustration purposes of how Article 282 has been applied in the past one need not look any further than the case of environmental activist Fyodor Maryasov in Zheleznogorsk of the Krasnoyarsk Region. He protested the construction of a nuclear waste repository. As a result, he was prosecuted for incitement of hatred because he belonged to the social group called "nuclear industry employees". It has been argued by the defence that use of anti-extremist legislation to pressure activists is an inappropiate measure and that "the nuclear industry does not constitute a vulnerable social group in need of special protection under Article 282."


                              Dr. Elena Musikhina

Elena talks about the mysterious deaths of "people related to specific situations, specific data and specific projects" with regard to sensitive environmental data. It all involved a project which evaluated the possible damage to the Irkutsk region related to natural or industrial causes or in terms of a terrorist attack. She was particularly concerned with a possible cascading effect of disasters--especially because the concentration of factories was in an active seismic zone. In late April 2009, she told Igor Esipovski who was the governor of Irkutsk about the situation. He died "accidentally" in a helicopter crash based on an incredulous story about a bear. His son also died mysteriously, too. 

Elena remembers other "accidents which she personally experienced in November 2009. "Shots were fired over her head while she was walking near the family’s home in suburban Irkutsk. A week later, the family’s dog was shot dead in the same place. On another occasion, a homeless man pushed her onto the street."

She also records the death of Evgeni Hamaganov with whom she protested in 2014-2015 to protect Lake Baikal. He was beaten to death. Scores of people have died who have been involved with protection and preservation of the environment around Lake Baikal. It seems that Colin Madsen who was beaten to death should be added to the list. 


                          Lake Baikal Rift Basin

It was Dr. Elena Musikhina who had been investigating the real pollution around Lake Baikal. Her data showed that it was even worse than the data in the archive. Furthermore, she claims that activities around the lake involve nuclear waste as well as biological and chemical agents.


                    6.3 Earthquake hits Lake Baikal

All of this is in an area that is still volcanically active as evidenced by earth tremors and hot springs. Some say these tremors have increased recently in number ranging from 3 to 5 in intensity on the Richter scale. A strong earthquake of 6.3 hit the Lake Baikal area on August 27, 2008. 

It was in 1990 that a group called Blue Wave was formed to protect Lake Baikal. Due to its activities and public awareness campaign a special law in Russia was passed in 1999 which spells out protective measures for Lake Baikal. The group also played a key role in the relocation of a pipeline some 40 kilometers further north of Lake Baikal. 

Blue Wave brought to the world's attention the pollution from controversial Baikal Paper and Pulp mill when it was restarted. Russian police raided Baikal Ecological Wave in Irkutsk and seized computers on the spurious grounds of suspicion of pirated software. The head of the organization whose name is Marina Rikhvanova claimed that the purpose of the raid was "to paralyze us".  


            Deripaska's motor yacht called the Selena

One of the most visible successes of Blue Wave was the shut down of the Baikal Paper and Pulp mill on Lake Baikal which probably irritated to no end the owner--Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Prior to the financial meltdown which began in 2007, he was Russia's richest man with a net worth estimated at $28 billion. One might say that he almost looked on the world's deepest lake as his personal pond with the construction of his own motor yacht called the Selenga to sail on it. However, after the shutdown of the paper and pulp mill in 2013,  Baikal Wave was dubbed a "foreign agent" under tough new legislation targeting NGOs with foreign funding. As a result, it closed down in 2016 finding that it was impossible to function. 

Perhaps the refugee tribunal panel has vaguely heard of Oleg Deripaska. It would probably not be due to his alleged involvement during the 1990's "in the struggle for control of an aluminium smelter in Sayanogorsk in Siberia. The battle was so vicious, and so corpse-strewn, it became part of privatisation legend, and dubbed the "aluminium wars". The panel may not be aware of the sanctions imposed by the United States against Deripaska's aluminum company called Rusal in April 2018 unless they were particularly business minded. "The U.S. cited Deripaska’s alleged history of bribery, extortion, and racketeering; his links to organized crime; and his purported order that a business rival be murdered (all allegations he has denied)". However, it is hard to believe that the panel would be totally ignorant of The Associated Press report that Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, began collecting $10 million a year in 2006 from Deripaska to advance Putin's interests with Western governments. As well, there were recent "allegations about $500k in payments from a Russian oligarch made to Trump attorney Michael Cohen". It has been said that Deripaska is a "key person in the investigation by the special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.


        Aluminum Smelters in the Lake Baikal Region

Let us not forget though that the key issue the refugee panel should be concerned about is how sensitive environmental data researched and recorded by Dr. Musikhina put her at risk of persecution by powerful vested interests. They are concentrated in the Russian aluminum sector of the Irktusk region and would stop at nothing to suppress the truth. A key stream of data concerns river levels feeding into Lake Baikal. 

Environmental activists and groups have voiced concerns about costly environmental damage to Lake Baikal by power plants of EN+ group owned by Oleg Deripaska. The World Heritage Committee has commented that "the regulations were too loose, and enforcement inadequate to preserve the lake from dangerous “fluctuation between the maximum and minimum water levels of Lake Baikal.” Waters Without Borders (which is a non-governmental group of organisations) charges that "Deripaska was behind a federal government decree which put a stop to 16-year old standards for the water volumes entering Lake Baikal from the Angara River...Medvedev’s decree allows Deripaska to divert more river water into his turbines in the dry season, and release more water in the flood season". 

Water levels of Lake Baikal have been declining yearly and are now at sixty year lows due to mismanagement, industrial misuse and lax laws. Why should the tribunal panel be concerned with low water levels as measured by scientists such as Dr. Musikhina at this location? It is because it concerns your fate and that of humanity. There will be nowhere for you or humanity to seek asylum from apocalypse if the trend continues. It makes the melting of Antarctica, rising sea levels, monster hurricanes and our current view of global warming look like the proverbial walk in the park.  


                    Methane Bubbles on Lake Baikal

Put simply, the issue is methane. The amount of methane gas hydrates stored at the bottom of Lake Baikal is 424 Gt. If the temperature of the water increases and its pressure decreases with less water in the lake then the hydrates destabilize and are released into the atmosphere as methane. Methane gas is 20 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide.

By comparison, the amount of methane in the atmosphere is about 5Gt. One can easily see that if only 5Gt of Lake Baikal's methane were released then the methane in the atmosphere would be doubled. And there is so much more methane that could potentially be released. The impact to global warning under various scenarios of methane release from this one source would have to be calculated with supercomputers. One can say without exaggeration that under the worst of circumstances where all the methane is released at once there would be billions of environmental refugees seeking asylum without any place to go. 

D. Carlton Rossi

D.卡尔顿 罗西