Work on Russia's first floating polar station North Pole-32 will be complete by May 15. As a Rosbalt correspondent reports, this was announced yesterday by President of the Association of Polar Explorers and Vice-Chairman of the State Duma Artur Chilingarov. He added that the last Soviet station North Pole-31 was closed in 1991.
Mr Chilingarov said there are currently 10 people at the station who are preparing the station for use. He pointed out that the decision to reopen the station had been taken by the board of the Russian federal agency for environmental protection. He said that the polar specialists would spend a year at the station carrying out meteorological and ice research as well as studying the interaction of the ocean and the atmosphere, the levels of pollution and searching for minerals.
Mr Chilingarov pointed out that the station was established on non-budgetary funds, most of which were provided by the Association of Polar Explorers and donations as well as the Moscow city government. However, he stressed that he would try to obtain government funding for the station. "Unless Russia develops the far north region it will be unable to develop as a significant share of the country's natural resources are either above the 60th parallel or beyond the polar circle."
"Everything concerned with developing the Arctic and the North Pole is of vital importance for Russia," said Oleg Tolkachev, first deputy mayor of Moscow.
Mr Chilingarov added that the station may appear on the internet in the near future. It is even possible that commercial tours will be organised similar to the 'cosmic' tours to the International Space Station, he said.