Asbestos Profile: Russia 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



For decades, Russia has been a leading producer, exporter and consumer of chrysotile (white) asbestos fiber. In the mid-1970s, the output of asbestos mines in the Soviet Union1 overtook that of Canadian mines for the first time. Between 2012 and 2016 Russia accounted, on average, for more than 50% of all global asbestos production, with China, Brazil and Kazakhstan supplying the rest [Latest Global Asbestos Data]. Asbestos bans in Canada and Brazil have, as of now (April, 2020), caused a cessation to mining operations in those countries, leaving Russia, China and Kazakhstan as the sole producing nations.

In 2015, almost half of all the asbestos mined in Russia was traded by UK-registered companies or businesses associated with them including: Astrade Solutions LP, Minerals Global Trading LLP and CJ Petrow & Co (Pty). [Asbestos Shame: At Home and Abroad]. This despite the fact that the UK had banned the import, use and sale of chrysotile in 1999.

Within the Eurasian Economic Community and in other global forums, asbestos stakeholders from Russia and Kazakhstan collaborate with vested interests in consuming nations to promote asbestos sales, pressurize governments and international agencies, harass ban asbestos campaigners and distribute pro-asbestos propaganda [Global Asbestos Panorama 2019] [Ban Proposal Angers Russians] [The Asbestos Lobby in Ukraine] [International High-Level Expert Conference on Chemical Safety and Rotterdam Convention: Policies and Practices in Russia] [Corporate Deceit: Asbestos Espionage at Home and Abroad] [Chrysotile Industry Counteroffensive 2012] [Yet More Russian Asbestos Lies].

Asbestos lobbyists continue to disseminate misinformation – based on industry’s “controlled use” philosophy [Canadian Asbestos: The Fallacy of Controlled Use] – to decision-makers, trade unionists, politicians, consumer groups and others in industrializing countries despite the fact that international agencies agree that the best way to eradicate asbestos-related diseases is to ban the use of asbestos [Asbestos Policies of Major International Agencies].

Stratagems employed by the Russian-led asbestos lobby have included: trade sanctions against countries planning to outlaw asbestos use [Media Release: Economic blackmail by Russia against Sri Lanka’s asbestos ban decision slammed by international trade unions and health networks] [The Asbestos Diktats of Russian Foreign Policy], sustained pressure on international agencies [Asbestos Refusniks vs. the United Nations] [The Rotterdam Convention 2019] [Media Release: Rotterdam Convention COP9] [Asbestos Showdown in Geneva] and the advancement of asbestos industry-commissioned “science” to cast doubt on the human health hazard posed by asbestos exposures [Asbestos: Ignominy, Corruption and Retribution.] [November’s Asbestos Revolution] [Litigation Driven Research – Deposition of Georgia-Pacific Executive] [Russian-US Asbestos Ties].

Despite the considerable political influence and financial resources of the Russian asbestos industry, international ban asbestos campaigners and trade unionists have worked closely with grassroots groups in Russia to raise awareness of the asbestos hazard. [Workshop: Elimination of Asbestos-related Diseases in Russia] [Russia’s Asbestos Challenge] [ALERT: Asbestos Public Health Hazard] [АСБЕСТ – УБИЙЦА (Asbestos is a Killer)] [Open Letter to President of Tartarsan; English and Russian] [Landmark Asbestos Meeting in Russia].

As a result of increasing knowledge about the human health hazard posed by exposures to asbestos, Russian consumers, civil servants and even high-level politicians have turned their backs on asbestos; even in Russia, the future is, it would seem, asbestos-free [Global Asbestos Panorama 2019] [Russia’s Olympic Asbestos Policy] [Russian Asbestos U-Turn?] [Russian Asbestos Ban?].

April 2020


1 At that time output from asbestos mines in Russia and Kazakhstan were grouped together under the Soviet Union.



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