Irkutsk region Forestry Department deputy minister arrested for illegal woodcutting at nature reserve

Irkutsk region Forestry Department deputy minister arrested for illegal woodcutting at nature reserve
Photo: Aleksey Tarasov / Novaya Gazeta

Aleksey Tugi is one of the suspects investigated by the police for woodcutting at a nature reserve. The police also arrested people working for the Irkutsk Forest Protection Center and the Kazachinsko-Lensky Forestry. They allowed to cut down 116 hectares of the forest.

The police arrested Irkutsk region Forestry Department Deputy Minister Aleksey Tugi and people working for the Irkutsk Forest Protection Center and the Kazachinsko-Lensky Forestry for illegal woodcutting at the Tulokon nature reserve, Novaya Gazeta reported. They allowed to cut down 116 hectares of the forest, causing more than 880 million rubles ($14 million) worth of damage to Russian forests. They were going to cut down the total of 500 hectares.

Tugi was placed under house arrested until August 10, 2018. He and the other suspects were charged with violation of article 286, part 3 (overreach) of the Criminal Code. The case is being investigated by the ICR.

The Kazachinsko-Lensky Forestry that is subordinate to the Forestry Department was tasked with woodcutting in 2018-2020. The Forest Protection Center (a branch of Roslesozashchita) issued the order.

The local Environment Protection Service ordered to stop the woodcutting on February 9. However, the woodcutting continued. This was when Greenpeace filed a complaint with the Forestry Department. Inspectors concluded the woodcutting was illegal. The inspection results were communicated to prosecutors who communicated them to the ICR. However, nothing was done. Irkutsk region Governor Sergey Levchenko ordered to disband the local Environment Protection Service and task the Forestry Department with its duties. The Forestry Department then sanctioned the woodcutting.

Tugi was a temporary supervisor of the now disbanded local Environment Protection Service and was then appointed the Forestry Department deputy minister. He signed a letter for the Kazachinsko-Lensky Forestry CEO dated February 14 that prohibited the woodcutting and demanded woodcutting machinery be removed from Tulokon. Baikal environment protection prosecutors wrote that the woodcutting had been authorized by Tugi. A former Environment Protection Service division head said that Tugi may have been forced to change his opinion and authorize the woodcutting.

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