Our International Group on the Ukok Plateau, 2011
Up until today, the Russian energy giant Gazprom has decreed that a gas pipeline must be routed directly through one of the world’s most precious valleys—Altai’s Ukok Plateau—in the process not only desecrating the UNESCO World Heritage Site there, but jeopardizing the entire Altai culture as well.
But today, a glimmer of hope appeared, when the Altai Pipeline did not appear on Gazprom’s announcements of current projects. However, international pressure must continue, because the stakes are so high, and because it is still uncertain if the project has been abandoned.
The unified protests of the Altai people have been treated with contempt. Even the projected unprofitability had been insufficient to counter the lucrative construction contracts. Preparation for construction already began last summer, despite the absence of legally required permits.
Please sign the international petition that was initiated by a local indigenous resident at http://www.culturalsurvival.org/category/campaigns/russiachina-pipeline-threatens-sacred-highlands, and to contribute what you can to the legal defense of the plateau.
The high Ukok Plateau in the center of the Altai Mountains, called by Herodotes “the pastures of heaven,” is a place worthy of its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a permafrost plateau at the very southern edge of Siberia, surrounded by Russian peaks on the north, but by Mongolian, Chinese, and Kazakh peaks in the east, south, and west. It can only be reached via 10,000-foot-high passes.
The plateau is breathtakingly beautiful and pristine. Nobody but the spirits of Altai and a large number of endangered species live on the plateau. It is a place of palpable power. The Altai people who are attuned with the place know that the so-called “burial mounds” are part of an ancient and sophisticated energy system that keeps the crust of the Earth stable.