Dangerous Work

Dangerous Work

Photo: https://zanmsk.ru/

The criminal investigation of former Minister of Forestry Dmitry Maslodudov, who is accused of bribery, is over in Krasnoyarsk. His brother who is a local entrepreneur was found guilty in this case earlier.

The corruption story lasts for over a year. In mid-November, the first verdict on it was delivered. The minister's brother Yury Maslodudov got a suspended sentence of five years but will pay a large fine of 7 million rubles ($94,626.) This is double the size of the bribe, listed in the materials of the investigation. The judge considered the fact of machinations where the Maslodudov brothers were involved proven. They committed these crimes in 2018 - 2020. According to the Investigative Committee of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and Khakassia, the minister “patronized” the timber company Kraslestorg whose founders and actual managers were acquaintances of his brother. Dmitry Maslodudov gave his subordinates, the officials of the subordinate forestries located on the territory of the Yenisei District, instructions to look for profitable forest plots, registered for sanitary cutting, and transferred to Kraslestorg. The company's management paid them for this. The Maslodudov brothers went halves with the money, and each got 3.5 million rubles ($47,313) over two years.

Dmitry Maslodudov will not get off just with a suspended sentence. Rumor has it his brother made a deal with the investigation and testified as to who exactly played the key role in the criminal scheme. The former official has been in pre-trial detention for a year now. The criminal case against Dmitry Maslodudov awaits approval by the prosecutor's office and then it will be transferred to the court, reported to the regional department of the Investigative Committee the day before. However, the former Minister of the Government of the Krasnoyarsk Territory is also accused of “cheating” his clients. For example, he promised a certain company to win the bidding contest for the lease of the forest land for 1 million rubles ($13,518.) He took the money but another firm got the order. “The suspect did not plead guilty to the crime he was charged with and did not repent of what he had done,” the investigators said.

Dmitry Maslodudov was involved in extortion and fraud in the ministerial post against the background of the course to bring order in the Krasnoyarsk timber industry, which was proclaimed by Governor Alexander Uss in 2019. Siberia and the Far East were hit by large-scale forest fires in 2018. It became a reason for criticism of the industry as a whole by top government officials, supervisory authorities, and independent experts. The consensus opinion is that the activities of “black-market” loggers and all kinds of crooks who steal timber play a significant role in the wildfires. The regional authorities promised to change the situation for the better. Perhaps that is when the Maslodudov brothers fell into the hands of investigators.

It seems that misfortune has been following forestry ministers in Siberia in recent years. Maslodudov's predecessor as Minister of Forestry of Krasnoyarsk territory, Elena Vavilova, was also criminally prosecuted. The proceedings against her lasted for five years. Vavilova was accused of exceeding her authority. According to the investigation, she had illegally granted one of the companies 800,000 cubic meters of lumber. However, she claimed that dishonest businessmen with whom she was fighting slandered her. The case was initiated in 2015 but was sent to court only in 2018 but the trial did not begin. The verdict was rendered only in March of this year. According to the regional prosecutor's office, based on the evidence gathered, the former official was found guilty of exceeding her authority and sentenced to three years' imprisonment conditionally with a probationary period of three years. She will also be prohibited from holding senior positions in state and local government agencies for three years. Her accomplice, Vyacheslav Zhgun, the acting head of Krasnoyarskles, was given a two-year suspended sentence.

Former Forestry Minister Sergei Sheverda has been kept in pre-trial detention for several years in the neighboring Irkutsk Region. According to the latest information, his preventive measure was extended until January next year.

Sheverda is accused of exceeding his authority. According to the investigation, it was his fault that under the guise of sanitary felling businessmen were felling trees in the Tukolon state nature reserve of regional importance.

“They brought in and will continue to do so through packing board. Twenty percent goes to top officials. This, in general, is tacitly laid out in everyone's estimate. Like expenses for fuel, for example. If important people are seriously involved in forestry, they make a fortune. And they are ready to share it,” one of the local entrepreneurs told wek.ru.

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