Krasnodar Region Authorities Held Responsible for Destruction of Unique Nature in Russia

Feature story - 30 January, 2009
January 22, 2009, Berlin. Today Greenpeace activists protested at the International exhibition “Green Week 2009” in Berlin where a large part of the exhibition was dedicated to the Krasnodar Region of Russia.

Today Greenpeace activists protested at the International exhibition “Green Week 2009” in Berlin where a large part of the exhibition was dedicated to the Krasnodar Region of Russia.

Greenpeace activists are pointing finger at the regular violations of the law in a Black Sea wildlife preserve "Bolshoy Utrish" that have been taking place in the interest of local and federal authorities.

In November 2008 the wildlife preserve became a victim of illegal road construction that was destroying IUCN Red List plant species and soil cover and threatened Russia's only remaining Mediterranean-like dry forest. To preserve the unique nature of these lands, the Russian Government issued a Resolution to establish a federal (higher) level nature reserve. However, this does not seem to save these lands from destruction.

The damage that the Utrish nature has suffered by now is not calculated, yet, however already now it has surely reached tens of thousands Euro.

The Krasnodar Region authorities have given their support to this illegal construction presenting it as construction of a fire road. However, facts of how this road is being built clearly indicate that it is a high-end tourist base and a road leading to this base that are planned here.

The construction of the road and forest cuttings was declared illegal by the Azov-Black Sea Environmental Protection Prosecutor's office and the Krasnodar Region Department of the Federal Service for Environmental Supervision. The police department of the city of Anapa launched a criminal case against illegal forest cuttings in the wildlife preserve. The demand to stop this illegal construction received support from the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. This did not help, though.

This inability of law enforcements bodies to stop this environmental crime tells us that there are influential people behind this road construction. The full negligence of the existing Russian legislation is a bright example of the "legal nihilism" that President Medvedev has so many times called on to struggle against.

"We demand that the Governor of the Krasnodar Region immediately stop this illegal road construction and forest cuttings in Utrish, recall all decisions to launch these illegal activities and punish those involved", said Greenpeace spokesman Dmitry Kuznetsov.

Additional information

The road construction is going on with severe violations of the existing Russian legislation: destruction of Red List species, construction in a high conservation value area without approval of the mandatory state environmental impact assessment committee.

On 1st July 2008 the Forestry Department of the Krasnodar Region signed a forest compartment rent contract with the Foundation of Regional Non-Profit Projects "Dar" (Gift). The Forest Committee, subordinate to the Forestry Department, signed an agreement with the Dar Foundation (this agreement had neither a date of signature nor a number of official registration), which prescribed construction of a fire forest road that would also be used to reach the forest compartment rented by the Dar Foundation.

The shareholders of the Dar Foundation include several Russian oligarchs, as well as German companies and even Deutche Bank that owns 29% of the Foundation's stock.

One of the founders of the Dar Foundation is Levit Ltd. Company that is also a principle shareholder of the Novatec Company. Novatek belongs to the largest gas producers in Russia and a significant part of its stock belongs to Gazprom.

No less interesting is the general contractor of the illegal construction in Utrish. Harvinter Ltd. is a large construction company from the former Yugoslavia. In 2006 its head, Mr. Slobodan Obradovich, was awarded by the President of the Russian Federation for his contribution in organizing the Russia - EU summit in Sochi.

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