Russian environmentalists have reacted angrily to jail sentences of between three and five-and-a-half years imposed on four nature reserve workers in Kamchatka, in the Russian Far East.
The four protest their innocence of embezzling funds from the Kronotsky nature reserve, in a case where the prosecution’s motives are hard to discern.
Mediazona, a human rights defenders’ site, reported that charges were brought against the four in 2018, after the director of a firm contracted to work for the reserve, himself implicated in criminal corruption, pointed the finger at them. That version of events was supported by a video posted anonymously on Youtube.
Pyotr Shpilenok, director of the Kronotsky reserve, and Greenpeace, “also connected the harassment of the ecologists with the fact that they had spoken out against a lake being excluded from the reserve, to be used for commercial purposes”, Mediazona said.
In 2019, the Insider, an opposition media site, reported that the intimidation campaign may have been connected with plans, about which the staff had doubts, to turn over fishing rights on the Kronotsky river to Rockwell Capital, an investment firm.
Rockwell’s founder Gleb Frank is the son-in-law of Gennady Timchenko, an oil trader and close friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, and son of former Russian transport minister Sergei Frank, the Insider noted.
No-one knows for sure why the staff of the nature reserve, who vehemently protest their innocence, have had their lives wrecked by these cruel sentences.
Greenpeace Russia strongly disagrees with the charges against the nature reserve employees.
On 15 July, the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsk City Court found employees of the Kronotsky Nature Reserve guilty of embezzlement in the amount of  million rubles [approx. 7.9 million euros]. The money had been allocated from the federal budget to eliminate accumulated environmental damage.Read the rest of this entry »