Activist complained about Ministry of Culture officials distributing protected land for elite development

Activist complained about Ministry of Culture officials distributing protected land for elite development
Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Officials of the Ministry of Culture are suspected of corrupt links with oligarch developers.

In the Ryazan region the member of the regional branch of the All-Russian Society for Historic Preservation and Cultural Organization (VOOPIiK) Igor Kochetkov has complained about three officials from the Russian Ministry of Culture. The activist has referred a complaint to the Prosecutor General's Office, the Federal Security Service and the MIA Main Directorate of Economic Security and Combating Corruption. In addition, the activist has also addressed the Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky. In his statement, Igor Kochetkov has noted that three officials of the Ministry of culture, namely Director of the Department of State Protection of Cultural Heritage and his two deputies are abusing their official powers by allocating land plots valuable in terms of history and culture under the state protection for development. In the rights defender's opinion, they provide these land plots to the "construction oligarchy".

According to Igor Kochetkov, a meeting of the Scientific and Methodological Council of the Russian Ministry of Culture is set for November 15. The main subject of discussion is consideration of the Esenin Rus cultural heritage site projects. 

The Ryazan activist referred the comments on this projects on determining the regime of the Esenin Rus cultural heritage sites to the Ministry of Culture on November 10. He pointed out that in case of implementation of this project, over 5000 hectares of land will be deprived of protective status, as they will be given for development.

"The statement sent on the part of Ryazan VOOPIiK provides compelling reasons for deviation from this project as not corresponding to the aims of monument protection," Igor Kochetkov pointed out in his statement.

According to the activist, the following day on November 11, the Ministry of Culture made a decision to exclude a number of experts from the Section of Landscape and Architectural Complexes and Historical and Cultural Reserves. Meanwhile, they should have taken part in the consideration of this controversial project.

As Igor Kochetkov noted, the retrenched experts had had the same position regarding this matter as he had. They wanted to prevent urbanization of protected areas, including the Esenin memorial estate.

The rights defender is positive that the exclusion of experts from the Council is an exemplary action aimed at intimidating the other specialists before the decisive meeting, which will determine the fate of the Esenin Rus.

"We ask you to take immediate action to prevent the violation of the national culture and the corruption arbitrariness," Igor Kochetkov wrote in his statement in the name of Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, the Director of the FSB of Russia, the Head of the MIA Main Directorate of Economic Security and Combatting Corruption, the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and to the Presidential Administration.

Moreover that the works aimed at creation of the Esenin Rus cultural heritage site started in 2014. Last year, the area was included in the State Register of Cultural Heritage Objects. Information on the limits of the protected area is entered in the State Cadastre of Real Estate. According to these data, the total area is over 46 hectares and includes 42 settlements, 9 cultural heritage objects, 75 objects of archaeological heritage, as well as 4 specially protected natural territories.

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