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    Russian green group says sub dives in Lake Baikal pose no threat

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    MOSCOW, July 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russian environmental group Green Patrol said on Monday a series of planned submersible dives to the bottom of Siberia's Lake Baikal do not pose an environmental threat.

    The first dive to the bottom of the world's deepest and oldest lake, part of scientific research for the Russian Academy of Sciences, will be conducted on July 23.

    The scientific expedition "should not in any way harm the ecosystem of the unique lake," Green Patrol spokesman Roman Pukalov said.

    The Mir-1 and Mir-2 deep-sea vehicles will perform 60 dives as part of unique research in the lake. The lake, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has a depth of 1,637 meters (5,371 ft) at its deepest point, and contains around 20% of the world's fresh water.

    As was earlier reported, the research, also scheduled for the next year, is aimed at exploring the unique lake's ecosystem, including its self-regulation processes.

    The Mir submersibles were built in 1987 and can dive to 6 km (3.3 miles) with a crew of three on board. Russia used them to measure radiation levels last year near the Soviet-built K-278 Komsomolets submarine which sank in the Norwegian Sea, and as part of a symbolic Russian expedition to claim resource-rich Arctic territory.

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