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Feature story - 2 September, 2013
Greenpeace got the official document – the decision of the Supreme Court that supported the Greenpeace suit about illegality of the gold mining inside the “Virgin Komi Forests” UNESCO World Heritage Site.

komi forest © greenpeace

On August 21 the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation agreed with Greenpeace Russia arguments and recognized the gold mining in the Yugyd Va National Park illegal.

The Court recognized as not corresponding to the Russian legislation the adopted by the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Park regulations that excludes from its territory the Chudnoye gold mining deposit. By this the dot was putted in more than 3-years fight of Greenpeace and other environmental organizations for restoration of the first Russian World Natural Heritage property “Virgin Komi Forests” integrity.

MNR representatives could not convince the judges that the territory of Chudnoye deposit was never included in the park. The unpleasant surprise for them was the represented by Greenpeace map that supports the fact that during the park creation the Chudnoye deposit was completely included into its boundaries.

The attempts to withdraw this territory from the park were undertaken repeatedly. In 1997 the Head of the Komi Republic with his decree had withdrew from the park boundaries 200,000 ha of the unique mountain golets area. This decree was abolished in the court.

In 2004 the Komi Government again tried to withdraw the plot for gold mining from the park. This attempt was removed by Prosecutor’s office after Greenpeace statement.

In 2009 the head of Inta city tried to withdraw the plot occupied by the Chudnoye deposit with the area of 1.9 thousand ha. This decision was cancelled by the court by the Prosecutor’s office suit.

After that the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation that replies for the protection of the specially protected areas and of the World Natural Heritage properties supported the gold miners and adopted the new regulations of the National Park excluding the Chudnoye deposit from its territory. Rosnedra that are within the jurisdiction of the MNR immediately gave to the Gold Minerals Close Corporation (its owners are registered on Cyprus) the license for deposit development. The geological prospecting (including explosive) works started on the territory of the World Heritage property.

The World Heritage Committee during several years declared that any withdrawal of lands as well as prospecting and gold mining threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the object and demanded the park integrity from Russia.

In 2012 the Greenpeace position was supported by the General Prosecutor’s Office. But MNR persistently continues to protect the ”Cyprus gold miners” interests. As it became known it prepares the documents about the withdrawal from the park even larger territory – 48,000 ha. Nearly 30,000 thousand have to be withdrawn in the Chudnoye deposit area. It became clear that even more scale development of the unique territory is planned. Greenpeace applied to the SupremeCourt.

“Welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision we hope that the problem of gold mining on the territory of the World Heritage property will be finally decided, - Mikhail Kreindlin, the Greenpeace Russia representative, said in the Court, - The judges gave us a hope that in Russia the possibility to protect the nature by the legal means from lawlessness of the authorities and connected with them businessmen is preserved. Besides, this decision shows that even in the seeming hopeless cases, even in the countries where the supremacy of law is under the big question. It is possible to reach the success if you operate consecutive and not to pull down the arms”.

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