Under the clayey rocky mountain

Dotted with shacks and huts,

My native Volga ran

In smooth and majestic flow...

Mikhail Lermontov

On May 20, Russia marks the Day of Volga. This date was established in 2008 on the initiative of UNESCO to attract attention to preservation of the largest rivers in the world – great Volga which originates in the swamps of Valdai Hills at the altitude of 228 meters. 

The river is 3,530 km long, while the area of its basin amounts to 1,360 km2 (about 8% of Russia’s territory). Volga’s ecology deserves special attention, as the river is a unique geographical object having rich natural resources. Besides, Volga is the artery of water transport and source of water supply for industry and agriculture. 

One of the federal programs implemented within the framework of national project Ecology is devoted to recovery of Volga. The priorities of this program include increase in biodiversity of fish population and its restoration to the level registered before the cascade of reservoirs was built.

“Carrying out economic activity in the basin of Volga, we should be careful not to let this activity devaluate the implementation of project Recovery of Volga. In the course of the project, work is being performed to reduce the number of point pollution sources and sewage treatment plants are being built which is very important for the river’s health. However, it is equally important not to create new pollution sources, especially diffused ones. For instance, while designing Nizhny Novgorod low-pressure hydro unit the designers have failed to make estimates to what extent the pollution level would increase in case the existing dumps, sludge storage site and cemeteries are flooded. Such estimates should be made in time, otherwise it will appear that we remove some pollution sources while creating new ones,” Askhat Kayumov, leader of Volga Ecological Movement, says

I. Y. Repin. Barge Haulers on the Volga. 1870-1873

I. Y. Repin. Barge Haulers on the Volga. 1870-1873


Nowadays, the water of Volga is the habitat for over 50 fish species. The fish reserves of Volga have reduced recently. Today, Volga is different from the river that it has been before, as the river is turning into a chain of reservoirs, the specialists emphasize

Nevertheless, Volga is considered one of the richest rivers in the world in terms of biodiversity. It is the habitat for bream, pike, zander, carp, starlet and other fish species. Here, one can meet rare birds: curly pelican, white-tailed eagle, pygmy cormorant, etc. 

Volga’s delta is the habitat and area of temporary stay for many rare and endangered species of birds listed in the Red Books of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN Red List–2006) (16 species) and Russian Federation (57 species), the specialists of Astrakhan State Reserve write. 66 bird species are listed in the Red Book of Astrakhan Region.  

Due to its diversity and beauty, Volga attracts not only scientists, but artists and poets as well. Many paintings and poems were devoted to this great river. One of the most famous paintings is Barge Haulers on the Volga by Ilya Repin. The canvas created in 1870-1873 shows a group of barge haulers at work. In 1869, the scene that Repin saw on the bank of Neva River boggled his imagination with its striking contrast: a group of barge haulers and picturesque nature. It was at that time that the idea to paint the picture which became an iconic one later was born. The artist borrowed 200 rubles from his friends for a trip to Volga, as Repin was tight on funds at that time.

Photo on the homepage: