03.12.2019 | The Prosecutor's Office of Tavush region presented a petition aimed at preventing corruption abuses that contribute to illegal logging

Acting Prosecutor of Tavush region – Eduard Harutyunyan presented a petition regarding some problems of illegal logging in the region to the Acting Chairman of the Forest Committee of the RA Ministry of Environment and Acting Director of “Hayantar” SNCO.


In the course of studying cases of illegal logging in Tavush region carried out by the Prosecutor's Office from 01.07.2019 to 15.11.2019, it was found out that, on the occasion of illegal logging, 54 criminal cases were initiated under Art. 296 of the RA Criminal Code, out of which 41 were initiated concerning the cases of illegal logging in the territory of branches of “Hayantar” SNCO. The damage caused to the plant world as a whole amounted to 263.6 million AMD.


From the initiated 41 cases, in case of 29 according to the protocols on forest violations, people who committed illegal logging were not identified. It is noteworthy that the damage caused to the state by these 29 cases amounted to 258.6 million AMD. While in the remaining 12 cases, when the protocols were drawn up by identifying the people who committed illegal logging, the damage amounted to only 5 million AMD.


Despite the fact that since July 2019, a reduction of cases of illegal logging has been registered, but this is mainly due to measures taken by law enforcement agencies and the establishment of police checkpoints in the region together with the Inspectorate for Nature Protection and Mineral Resources. However, these measures cannot be sufficiently effective without eliminating the factors that contribute to illegal logging by people appointed to senior positions (branch director, forester).


In particular, there are cases when people who were prosecuted not only for various corruption abuses in connection with logging, but also against them were made guilty verdicts are appointed to these responsible posts. For example, by the decree of the Director of “Hayantar” SNCO dated 08.08.2019 as a forester was appointed a person who, since January 2018 was charged for the abuse of authority and sentenced to 2 years of conditional imprisonment.


Or in another criminal case, the person holding the position of forester was charged for his dishonest and careless attitude to his official obligations, as a result of which for a long time the resident was able to illegally cut down trees and caused damage to the state. Despite the fact that a guilty verdict was made concerning this case in September 2019, however, up to this day he continues to hold a position in another forestry.


In another case, the forester, under the pretext of providing residents with free coniferous wood, allowed a person with whom he had a family relationship to take out firewood, for which he was pleaded guilty by the verdict of 16.04.2018 under Part 1 of Art. 308 of the RA Criminal Code and sentenced to a fine. During the investigation of this criminal case, he got fired from this position, but later appointed as a forester of the Aygehovit forestry.


Acting prosecutor of the region considered it necessary to discuss the appropriateness of the aforementioned foresters to occupy the posts and to be careful when appointing people to these posts.


The study of cases of logging also proves that corruption schemes are still being applied in the process of purchasing coniferous wood for non-productive purposes. Cases have been registered when foresters, woodmen being in a conspiracy with people involved in the sale of timber, by a ticket (filled out in the name of different citizens) for free coniferous wood, make forest harvesting and sell it.


Acting prosecutor of the region by the petition also raised the issues for direct and daily supervision over the aforementioned process by the Branch Heads of “Hayantar” SNCO, strengthening control over the work duties of SNCO employees and the application of disciplinary measures.