The first tectonophysical model of the Baikal seismic zone represents a separate complex region of the lithosphere. It has a pinnate structure with a backbone belt of current deformation, which is a concentrator of largest earthquakes, and branching, repeatedly reactivated large and small faults. In its vertical section, the seismic zone is tree-like, the stem and the branches being faults of different size ranks which can generate earthquakes when reactivated. The real-time short-period fault motions and the respective seismicity occurring at a certain time and in certain places are triggered by strain waves, which disturb the metastable state of the faulted lithosphere subject to regional stress. The modeling work includes developing general requirements for tectonophysical models of continental rifts and special methods for identifying the faults that become active within short historic time spans, as well as techniques for locating potential events in space and time in specific active faults. The methods and model testing for medium-term earthquake prediction are described by the example of the well-documented Baikal seismic zone, which is the most active part of the Baikal rift system. The tectonophysical model for the Baikal zone is statistically supported by field data, and this allows estimating the velocities and periods of strain waves for different zone segments and faults, with implications for nearest-future earthquake prediction.

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