Instead of ceasing environmental crimes committed during the road Adler-Krasnaya Polyana construction, Russian governmental authorities and the construction company Public Corporation ‘RZD’ concealed the describes violations.
Public Corporation ‘RZD’
RZD publicly lied telling that no species included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation (Pterocarya pterocarpa) were cut down during the road construction on the 29th square of the Veselovsky forestry area. Telling so, RZD contradicts the document which its company representative had signed before. Specifically, RZD publicly stated in that document that the 29th square of the Veselovsky forestry area is of high environmental value and has Pterocarya pterocarpa growing on its territory. The document was signed by the RZD representative and the Sochi National Park representative among others.
As to the governmental ‘response’ to the issue, the local Sochi department of the Russian Federal agency on control over nature management denied the fact of cutting the endangered species. The Agency did not ‘notice’ the stubs of Pterocarya pterocarpa although they did present on the field. Environmental Watch on North Caucasus (EWNC) saw the Agency’s representatives inspecting ‘slightly’ the area.
The most inadequate response was done by the Sochi National Park which gave the certificate that there Pterocarya pterocarpa on the 29th square of the Veselovsky forestry area does not grow. This reference obviously contradicts the document described above that was signed by the Sochi National Park and RZD representatives.
The tree stubs later were removed and were covered with soil, thus, destroying the evidence.
In addition to that, Federal Agency on control over nature management authorized illegal construction of the road Adler-Krasnaya Polyana. It gave the permit to ‘take’, i.e. to destroy, species included in the Red Book of the Russian Federation (the list of endangered and/or threatened species). Such permit was issued in violation of the Russian law on environmental protection which states that species included in the Red Book can be ‘taken’ only for the purpose of conducting environmental protection activities. Obviously, the road construction does not fall into the area of environmental protection. Not surprisingly, the commission issuing the permit did not have a chance to read all the documents related to the issues and, more importantly, environmental specialists did not participate anyhow in decision-making, even by giving their scientific advice. The decision was made on the day the commission started its discussion of the issue.
RZD, in its term, launched the greenwashing campaign of planting the species of trees it previously cut down. This campaign is a greenwash because it damages the environment even more: the species for the campaign were not obtained in a nursery but were taken from the Sochi National Park.
The President Dmitry Medvedev did not stop the outrageous environmental violations. Instead, it pointed out that the road project is impressive and unique in Russia. He did not point out any of the issues related to the road construction, although the issue was widely covered by media in Russia.
The only sensational positive governmental intervention into environmental crimes happened on August 10, 2009. Then, Department on Combating Economic Crimes stopped illegal road construction for a short-term.
Environmental activists from EWNC and other civil society groups protested numerous times against illegal construction of the road Adler-Krasnaya Polyana. By doing so, they carried out their constitutional obligation to protect the Russian environment. Precisely because governmental authorities grossly ignored environmental violations, civil society conducted numerous protests most of the time risking their freedom and life. Police, Prosecutor’s Office, Olympic Department of the Krasnodar krai Prosecutor’s Office, Ministry of natural resources and environment, Sochi department of the Russian Federal agency on control over nature management, Public Corporation ‘Olympstroy’ did not cease the violations, although civil society petitioned them numerous times. Instead, police detained Suren Gazaryan and Andrey Rudomakha during one of the protests against illegal construction works. Police officers, while on the site because of the call from civil activists, did not ask most of the times for permits and other obligatory documents necessary for the construction works, but instead, they called their bosses and colleagues to check the documents ‘by phone’. Such ‘rule of the telephone call’ is, of course, illegal.
The court convicted activists in failure to obey the police order (Art. 19.3 par. 1 of the Code of Administrative Infractions of the Russian Federation), although the court chose the minimal punishment measure. Importantly, during the court procedure, where the judge Svetlana Kolinichenko was judging, environmental violations were revealed but the court could not admit that fact. Instead, the court used as an evidence the documents that did not have any connection to the case (permits, schemes, project documentation for another area were given to the court) denied the petition to conduct the expertise, admitted falsified testimonies. Unfortunately, the administrative trial revealed that executive and judicial branches are merged on issues related to Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
All this looks surrealistic, but in reality, it is the bitter truth of Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Neither UNEP and the IOC, nor the Russian governmental and Olympic structures could stop Olympic lawlessness.
By Yulia Genin based on materials by EWNC.
http://www.ewnc.org/node/4967 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/4987 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5148 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5169 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5171 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5036 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5057 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5064 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5066 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5067 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5076 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5094 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5106 , http://www.ewnc.org/node/5118 .