The Minister of Forestry of the Irkutsk Region, Sergei Sheverda, was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. This was reported in the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.
“On instructions from the Investigation Department of the IC of Russia in the Irkutsk Region, officers of the FSB of Russia at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport on suspicion of committing a crime under paragraph“ c ”of Part 3 of Art. 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of power, committed with causing grave consequences), the Minister of the Forest Complex of the Irkutsk Region, Sergei Sheverda, was detained, ”the ministry’s statement said.
The official was detained as part of the investigation into the illegal logging in a nature reserve of regional importance “Tukolon” in the Kazachinsko-Lensky District of the Irkutsk Region. According to authorities, Sheverda illegally "agreed to conduct a clear sanitary felling" in a protected natural area.
Three more people are brought to criminal responsibility in this case: temporarily replacing the position of the head of the service for the conservation and use of fauna objects in the Irkutsk region, director of the State Agrarian University “Kazachinsko-Lensky Leskhoz”, forest pathologist of the forest protection department and forest pathological monitoring of the FBU Russian Protection Center branch forests ”-“ Center for the Protection of the Forest of the Irkutsk Region ”.
They were charged with abuse of power, which led to serious consequences, as well as illegal logging of forest plantations and violation of the regime of specially protected natural territories and natural objects.
- © Press Service of the Government of the Irkutsk Region
"Investigators of the TFR found that as a result of illegal logging on an area of about 120 hectares, the forest fund of the Russian Federation, hunting resources and their habitat, soils, wildlife objects suffered damage totaling about 748 million rubles," explained the press release of the UK RF.
Recall previously reported that the amount of damage amounts to 880 million rubles.
The investigation, which operated in conjunction with the prosecutor's office and the FSB, managed to gather enough evidence to carry out the detention. In the near future, Sheverde will be charged and a preventive measure will be chosen.
As part of the investigation, it was established that in September 2017, employees of the “Center for the Protection of the Forest of the Irkutsk Region” (a branch of the FBU “Roslesozashchita”) conducted a survey of areas of the Tukolon nature reserve and set up clear sanitary felling. The logging was carried out by the staff of the Kazachinsko-Lensky Leskhoz OGAU.
Later, the appointment of sanitary felling was considered illegal. The case materials were provided by the Baikal Interregional Environmental Prosecutor's Office.
The investigation notes that illegal logging was agreed upon by officials of the regional service for the protection and use of wildlife, who at that time held senior positions in the Ministry of Forestry of the region. In June 2018, the Deputy Minister of Forestry of the Irkutsk Region was detained and placed under house arrest.
Prosecutor Sergei Zenkov said that by identifying illegal activities in time, it was possible to prevent the destruction of about 500 hectares of forest, and the total cutting area could be about 600 hectares.
“We appealed to scientific institutes, a special commission was formed, which concluded that the forest was cut down, which did not even require selective logging, not only solid ones. He was cut down on the slopes that obstructed the winds. And today the wind has already begun to dry the territory of the reserve. The environmental consequences are already there, and they are quite serious, ”Zenkov said.
First Deputy of the Baikal Prosecutor Alexei Kalinin, for his part, added that the work was carried out in remote areas, where there are no roads. Wood was removed from there along the road, the use of which is possible only in winter.
In May 2018, a working group visited the reserve, which included representatives of the regional Minles, the territorial branch of the FBU Russian Forest Protection Center, scientists and environmentalists. They had to give their assessment of the situation in the reserve.
The experts found out that after the fires in the reserve in 2015 and 2016 in the areas where fires started, almost all the trees were affected by pests. In addition, in the areas of illegally designated sanitary cutting, due to the shutdown of the technological process (the cutting was stopped at the request of the prosecutor's office), uncleared remains of trees remained, due to which neighboring plantings are threatened by stem pests.
“I personally saw that the territory of“ Tukoloni ”was very seriously affected by pests. Forestry activities here are stopped by decision of the prosecutor's office. It is urgent to again conduct a detailed survey of this territory and begin concrete actions to localize the spread of the outbreak, ”Alexander Lutsenko, deputy chairman of the ecology committee of the Public Chamber of the Irkutsk Region, told RIA Novosti.
- © Swen Pförtner / dpa