Russian top officials that surved a helicopter crash may be accused of poaching
The helicopter had an accidental crash in the Republic of Altai, a Russian South Siberian region, on January 9.
Experts identified killed endangered wild mountain sheep, argali, on pictures, made on the site of the crash. If it is proved that the animals were killed from the helicopter, it is an additional crime, as it is illegal to hunt from a helicopter on any animal species, even if it is not endangered.
The passengers of the helicopter included President’s plenipotentiary in the State Duma Alexander Kosopkin, region's governmental Head of the Committee for Protection of Fauna Viktor Kaimin, and region’s Vice-president Anatoly Bannykh. Only four of the 11 people on board survived the crash.
“Poachers often remain unpunished in Russia. We hope that a due trial of this case will become a warning for them and will help reduce poaching rates”, says Vladimir Krever, WWF-Russia biodiversity expert.
Hunting on animals listed in the Russian Red Data Book of endangered species is a crime by the Russian law and can be punished by a fine of up to 200 thousand rubles or corrective labour of up to 2 years, or by an arrest of up to 6 months. If it is proved that this crime was commited with an abuse of official position, punishment can be more severe.