Dismantling a part of the fence during inspection of the state forest fund in the Tuapse District, Krasnodar Territory, November 2011. Courtesy of gazaryan-suren.livejournal.com

02 March 2012, 23:30

Krasnodar Territory: activists of "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus" involved as suspects of damaging fence at "Tkachov's summer cottage"

In the Krasnodar Territory, Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko, the members of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", were involved as suspects in the criminal case on the fact of damage to the fence in the forest reserve territory near the summer cottage belonging to Governor Alexander Tkachov. The ecologists signed recognizance not to leave as pre-trial restriction measures.

Let us remind you that in early November 2011, a group of activists, including the members of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", the "Yabloko" Party, and the movement "Solidarity", conducted public ecological inspection of the state forest reserve territory, adjacent to the alleged summer cottage of Governor of the Krasnodar Territory Alexander Tkachov.

Yesterday, on March 1, Suren Gazaryan has been interrogated as a witness by Captain of Justice E. Polokhova, the investigator of the Investigatory Division of the Office of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in the Tuapse District. Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko were informed that they are involved in the criminal case as suspects, and they were given copies of the decision to institute the criminal case and to select recognizance not to leave and good behaviour as pre-trial restriction measures.

Earlier, the participants of the action held in last November have reported that "to enter the territory, which is public by law, the activists had to dismantle a section of the fence, which was built around the Governor's summer cottage on the forest reserve land in 2011." During the inspection, according to its participants, they revealed that the construction of the illegal fence had contributed to cutting down dozens of trees, including Pitsunda pine, listed in the Red Data Book of Russia.

However, on fact of the dismantling of the fence in Tuapse, the criminal case was instituted under Part 1 of Article 167 (intentional destruction or damage to other people's property, if these acts inflicted significant damage) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

According to representatives of investigators, in February 2012, in accordance with the insistence of the prosecutor's office, which treated the actions of the ecologists as "hooligan motives", the criminal case No. 238021 was reclassified from Part 1 of Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation to the more serious one Part 2 of the same Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (the same acts of hooligan motives committed by arson, explosion or other common dangerous method or which negligently caused death of a person or other grave consequences), and it was brought from the inquiry into the investigatory division.

Crimes under Part 2 of Article 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation shall be punished by forced labour for the period of up to five years or by imprisonment for the same period.

In the morning of February 29, Suren Gazaryan, the member of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", was informed about necessity of his appearance at the Tuapse UVD (Interior Department) to be interrogated as a witness in that criminal case. According to Suren Gazaryan himself, investigators from the Criminal Investigation Department were on duty at his house in Krasnodar during the entire day and night, until on March 1 he came to the investigator in Tuapse. On the day before, Evgeny Vitishko, the member of the Board of the "Ecological Watch for Northern Caucasus", Chairman of the Tuapse Branch of the "Yabloko" Party, was summoned for interrogation as a witness. He refused to testify, taking advantage of Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation.

According to the investigators, Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko through their actions "inflicted damage on the Company 'Kapitel-2' in the amount of 119,063.13 roubles, and that was a significant damage for the LLC (Limited Liability Company) 'Kapitel-2'.

According to Suren Gazaryan, the criminal case No. 238021 is the first precedent in the Russian practice, when "the authorities try to put citizens in prison for the damage to illegal fences in the forest."

The ecologist writes on his page in the "LiveJournal" that "all appeals, including the letter handed in person to the hands of President Dmitry Medvedev by Sergey Tsyplenkov, Director of 'Greenpeace' did not changed the situation."

Author: Natalia Dorokhina; Source: CK correspondent

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