Over the lifetime of this blog, pageviews in Russia have accounted for about 12% of the 2,400 pageviews the blog has ever received - not really sure why my inane ramblings should strike a chord in the largest country in the world, but there you go. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I'm a fan of old Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky.
Anyway, some people would suggest that, in order to protect such a regular source of pageviews, I should do nothing to upset anyone in Russia (in much the same way as western leaders tend to try to avoid mentioning human rights violations when they walk to China).
But what sort of hard-assed blogmeister would yours truly be if I allowed my opinions to be influenced in such a way - not one that all you hard-assed blog-readers out there would want to spend their time reviewing the ramblings of, that's for sure.
So that's why, even though today's blog may not strike a popular chord in Russia, I am still going to say what I need to say, which is this:
We almost got the Ross Sea, the southernmost body of water in the world, sitting as it does to the south-west of New Zealand and lapping at the shores of Antarctica, designated as a marine protected area, thus banning fishing in the spawning areas of some species and putting a limit on the amount of fish caught elsewhere.
Unfortunately, of the 24 governments and EU which met in Germany this week, only Russia voted against this and, as the agreement needed to be unanimous, it didn't go through. And Russia's reason? It said it was uncertain about the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resource's legal authority to establish a marine protected area, even though the Commission did just that around the nearby South Orkney Islands in 2009. So a bit of a cop-out on the basis of a technicality.
Now Russia is one of a number of countries that fish in this region; but they are the only country to vote against this plan to set up the marine protected area - which is a real shame, because this area is particularly rich in orcas, minke whales and seals, as well as being home to a quarter of the worlds Adelie and emperor penguins. It is, perhaps, the most pristine marine ecosystem left on the planet...but it won't stay pristine for long because excessive fishing of the Antarctic toothfish (a.k.a the Chilean sea bass) has already begun to have an impact on the delicate balance of the ecosystem.
So, I say this to those fabulous blog-readers in Russia:
'Come on, guys, get on the phone to Mr Putin and tell old Vladimir to order his team to turn up in Hobart in Australia in October and push their way to the front of the queue of those who want to sign on the dotted line, and let's at least have a small part of the world that we don't make a bloody ecological mess of.'