Investigating Kamchatka governor's case

An environmental expert check was completed during the investigation of charges, which had been brought up against Kamchatka (peninsula in the Pacific) governor Mikhail Mashkovtsev. This was disclosed to RIA Novosti here today by Valery Krivenko, who heads the investigation squad at the regional prosecutor's office.

According to experts, environmental damage totals more than 100 million roubles, Krivenko noted. (one dollar costs about 29 roubles - Ed.) In his words, an expert commission, which comprised representatives of R&D institutes studying environmental and nature-use aspects, fishing inspectorates and law-enforcement agencies, has assessed the consequences of predatory salmon catches during the 2002 fishing season (that were allowed by the governor).

Mashkovtsev will start reading the 70-page expert-check document already this May; the prosecutor's office hopes to send his case to court already this summer, provided that the governor reads fast enough, Krivenko went on to say.

Mashkovtsev was charged with inflicting serious damage through abuse of office (in line with the Criminal Code). Criminal proceedings against the governor were instituted March 17, 2004. Mashkovtsev might be sentenced to 3-10 years in prison, if the court finds him guilty.

According to the prosecutor's office, the governor had violated current legislation during the 2002 fishing season, issuing an instruction that authorized unlimited salmon catches in local water bodies, including those on the territory of nature preserves and hunting preserves; moreover, that document allowed fishermen to catch fish listed in the Red Data Book. Mashkovtsev's decision was motivated by the fact that all local spawning grounds had been filled to capacity.

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