The bodies of the ICR Commission of Inquiry for the Republic of Altai have launched another criminal case related to the regional Ministry of Natural Resources. Investigators believe unknown ministry officials overstepped their bounds and illegally leased 130 acres of forest to the gold mining agency. As a result, the user of the subsoil cut down thousands of cubic meters of trees, writes the press service of the department. According to Bankfax sources, we can talk about the local Vera LLC.
According to preliminary data, in November 2020 and February 2022, officials of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Tourism of the Republic of Altai, acting out of selfish and other personal interests, at the request of one of the gold mining companies illegally provided forest plots in the Turochaksky area with a total area of 130 hectares. The land was used for geological exploration of the subsoil, exploration and extraction, as well as logging. All the same unknown officials accepted the forest declarations and approved positive conclusions for the forestry projects submitted by this legal entity, which provided for the felling of trees. At the same time, the ministry knew that only timber would be harvested on this land and Vera did not conduct a geological study of the subsoil, exploration and extraction. In fact, 15 thousand cubic meters were cut at the construction sites. m. forest, mainly cedar. The damage to the forest fund of the Russian Federation is about 147 million rubles.
All these violations were revealed as a result of the control of the Gorno-Altai Interregional Environmental Prosecutor’s Office. The press service of the supervisory service, for its part, clarifies that, according to the law, forest plots can be leased to a subsoil user for logging only after it has issued a geological and mining distribution for them. But the legal entity did not issue this documentation. Respectively, the Ministry of Natural Resources had no reason to grant plots to the company. For the same reason, the officials had no legal grounds for drawing positive conclusions from the state ecological expertise for a forest development project developed by a gold mining organization that provides for the felling of forest plantations.
As a result, based on the materials of the prosecutorial control, a criminal case was initiated according to paragraph “c” of Part 3 of Art. 286 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of official power). Investigators are now investigating all the circumstances of the incident and gathering evidence. In addition, the environmental prosecutor sent material to the investigating authority to resolve the issue of initiating a criminal case for a crime in accordance with Part 3 of the article. 260 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation (illegal logging of forest plantations, committed on a particularly large scale).
It should be noted that the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Republic of Armenia and its existing institutions have recently been shaken by scandals. For example, in April of this year, it became known about the detention of the former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources, Ecology and Tourism of the Republic, Sergei Rastvorov. He is suspected of bribery and exceeding his authority, expressed as obstruction of business activity. According to the press service of the ICR Republican Committee of Inquiry, these cases were closely linked to the scandalous Turochak forestry. Law enforcement officials reported the detention of Sergei Yeshikov’s director in February this year. He is suspected of bribing for dubious licenses to a local lumberjack who decided to make money by harvesting Christmas trees before the New Year holidays. It should be noted that in the light of these events, Ekaterina Povarova, who worked under this regime for a little over two years, hastily resigned as Minister of Natural Resources, Ecology and Tourism of the Republic of Armenia in the spring. It is curious that the acts revealed by law enforcement officers were committed, including during her tenure.
Recall also that there were scandals with underground users in the Altai Territory. Thus, in the Soloneshensky area, the Solnechnaya Artel attempted to enter the subsoil area called the Placer of the Shchepeta River and the Soloneshnaya River. However, the goldsmiths met resistance from locals and environmental activists due to the presence of rare animals and plants in the area, as well as people’s fears that the company’s work could lead to local environmental disaster. Under pressure from the public, the regional Ministry of Natural Resources refused to coordinate gold mining, but information has recently circulated in the Soloneshensky area that Solnechnaya Artel has not abandoned its plans.
This position of the locals is explained by the fact that Anuy LLC, affiliated with Solnechnaya Artel, has already tried to mine the precious metal with the mentioned permit, but in a different area – in the valley of the river Anuy near the village Topolnoe . The situation then turned into a scandal after the intervention of environmentalists. As a result, in 2019, a court decision came into force, according to which Anuy’s activities in this field were limited due to the presence of Red Book flora and fauna in the mine territory. The company was then forced to retake the Anui River Valley, where the mining took place, but locals did not notice any global changes for the better even a year later.