VIP-poachers may be sued to compensate for environmental damage
GORNO-ALTAISK, December 27 - RAPSI, Yelena Kozlova. The Altai Republic committee for protecting the animal world may sue those who hunted endangered animals during an ill-fated helicopter flight in the Altai for the environmental damage they inflicted, the committee told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
An Altai district court closed on December 16 the case of endangered animals VIP-hunting as the statute of limitations has expired. The judgment entered into force on Monday.
A Mi-171 helicopter (Mi-8 modification) carrying high-ranking officials crashed in the vicinity of Chornaya Mountain in January 2009, killing seven passengers. Of the four passengers who survived the crash, three stood trial for illegally poaching endangered Argali Sheep. Alexander Kospokin, the presidential representative at the State Duma, Anatoly Bannykh, the then Deputy Prime Minister of the Altai Republic, businessman Boris Belinsky and Economics and Law Institute Deputy Director Nikolay Kapranov faced up to two years in prison.
Photographs of the crash site were published on the Internet, showing Argali Sheep carcasses strewn amid helicopter debris. The photographs caused a public outcry, as the animals are on the Russian and international endangered species lists. The indigenous Altai population regards Argali as sacred.
Argali hunting has been prohibited in Russia since 1930.
Researchers estimate that there are only 4,500-5,500 Argali Sheep in the world, out of which about 1,600 inhabit Russian and Mongolian border areas.