Lake Baikal is an important environmental symbol in Russia, and one of the few cases to have attracted significant attention from environmentalists, the government, and the international community. While in many ways a unique case, the protection of Lake Baikal provides valuable insight into policymaking in Russia and highlights some of the major challenges associated with environmental conservation efforts. This article will focus on key developments in the post-Soviet environmental policy process, using the examples of the 1999 Law on Baikal, and the closure of the Baikal Pulp and Paper Plant. The case of Lake Baikal reveals a policy process characterized by high levels of intervention from political leadership, frequent changes in direction, and an insular decision-making context with only limited input from environmental actors.