Greenpeace protests new Russian forest legislation

Greenpeace activists blockaded the main entrance to government headquarters in Moscow Thursday to protest a new law the environmental group says will devastate Russian forests through uncontrolled logging.

Activists attached to harnesses hung from a nearby bridge to unfurl a huge yellow banner, reading "Recall this worthless forest code from the Duma (lower house of parliament)." Other Greenpeace volunteers dressed as trees and flanked by colleagues in orange boiler suits blocked the gates of the main entrance to the Russian White House.

"We call on the government, before it is too late, to remove this forest bill from the Duma," Greenpeace representative Alexei Yaroshenko said. "If it is adopted, a large part of our forests will disappear."

Police later detained the activists, the private NTV television reported.

The head of Russia's Federal Forest Agency, Valery Roshchupkin, has criticized insufficient forest exploitation, which he said accounts for the inefficiency of Russia's lumber industry. The new law would potentially enable private ownership of forests, giving logging companies unfettered access.

According to Greenpeace, Russia's forests cover more than one thousand million hectares, or 22 percent of the world's total woodlands, an area larger than the continental USA.

Associated Press

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