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. Russian mayor urges closure of own town: report

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) April 8, 2008
A Russian mayor has taken the unusual step of calling for his own town to be shut down due to toxic weapons waste, a daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Nikolai Malakhov, mayor of the southwestern town of Chapayevsk, formerly home to Soviet arms factories that produced toxic agents, had told a meeting with visiting officials that closing the town and resettling its residents would be the "ideal solution," said the independent daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

The paper observed that "mortality rates caused by tuberculosis, cancer of the throat, liver and the kidneys are three times higher in Chapayevsk than in the rest of the region."

Last year, Natural Resources Minister Alexander Fyodorov advised local leaders in Chapayevsk to look on the positive side and project an "aura of well-being," which would attract investment.

Home to 70,000 people, Chapayevsk was founded in 1927 as a base for secret military production and eventually boasted four such factories, all of which were shut down with the Soviet Union's 1991 collapse.

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