Cuttings cost the Ulyanovsk minister 311 million rubles

Former Deputy Minister of Forestry, Natural Resources and Ecology of the Ulyanovsk Region – ex-head of the forestry department Lev Pavlov, by court decision, will have to pay compensation for the damage caused to him in the amount of 311 million rubles. This is the highest amount in the recent history of the region, which is required from an official to compensate for damages. Earlier, a criminal case was initiated against former top officials of the Ministry of Forestry (later the Ministry of Agriculture), including ex-Minister of Agriculture Alexander Chepukhin, on the fact of illegal issuance of permits for felling specially protected areas of the forest, which was terminated due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. However, the prosecutor’s office of the region demanded through the courts compensation for the damage caused to forestry by officials. Whether Lev Pavlov will be able to compensate for such damage is unknown.

The Ulyanovsk Regional Court denied Lev Pavlov , ex-deputy minister and ex-head of the department of forestry, nature management and ecology of the Ulyanovsk region, the appeal against the decision of the first instance. From that moment on, the decision of the Dimitrovgrad city court entered into force, and Mr. Pavlov will have to pay 311 million rubles. as compensation for the damage caused by his illegal actions to the forest fund of the Russian Federation, the prosecutor’s office of the Ulyanovsk region announced on Tuesday evening.

As Kommersant reported, in the spring of 2019, a joint inspection by Rosleskhoz and the FSB in the region revealed an unlawful exclusion from the state forest register of information about specially protected forest areas with their further transfer for felling. The regional Investigative Committee of the ICR, on the basis of an audit, opened criminal cases on facts of abuse of power and excess of authority (part 1 of article 285 and part 1 of article 286 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) against the Minister of Agriculture Alexander Chepukhin (now he heads the budget committee of the regional legislature) and Heads of the Forestry Department Lev Pavlov, Mikhail Mokrov and Ivan Gerasimov. The heads of the department were imputed that they (in different years, for example, Lev Pavlov – in 2013), without checking the documents for compliance with realities, claimed them, and the minister – that in 2015 “he committed negligence, not controlling the actions of his subordinates.” In general, the damage caused by them to the forest fund was estimated at 452 million rubles. Then the charge was reclassified to a less serious part 1 of Art. 293 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (“Negligence”, sanctions ranging from a fine to arrest for six months), and in early 2020 the criminal case was terminated “due to the expiration of the statute of limitations”, which was allowed by the reclassified article.

The regional prosecutor’s office insisted that the damage still needed to be compensated in full, and filed lawsuits with the courts at the place of residence of the ex-officials.

The district courts initially refused to satisfy the claims, pointing out the lack of evidence, the regional court agreed with them, but the Sixth Cassation Court (Samara) in the fall of 2021 overturned the decision of the district courts, sending the cases for a new trial. During the second consideration, the courts of first instance (in the winter-spring of 2022) already agreed with the requirements and arguments of the prosecutor’s office. Their decisions were upheld by the regional court, and then by the cassation instance (with the exception of Lev Pavlov). Ivan Gerasimov (he now lives in the Saratov region, where the hearing took place) went to the Supreme Court, but in September 2022 he was refused to transfer the complaint for consideration in court. Alexander Chepukhin in October last year already voluntarily reimbursed 35 million rubles. damage, also voluntarily compensated for the damage of 10 million rubles. and Mikhail Mokrov. At the same time, despite the execution of the decision to compensate for the damage, the ex-officials do not consider themselves guilty of the alleged violations. According to Yevgeny Kalashnikov, a lawyer representing the interests of Mikhail Mokrov, he is now preparing a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, in August 2022, the Sixth Cassation Court for the second time satisfied Lev Pavlov’s cassation appeal (from which the prosecutor’s office demands reimbursement of 319 million rubles) and canceled the decisions of the district and regional courts, sending the case for a new trial, indicating that “the amount of damages subject to compensation ” should be determined “taking into account all the circumstances of the case, based on the principles of fairness and proportionality of responsibility for the committed violation”, and the court of first instance did not give a proper assessment of “the reliability of each evidence”.

However, the Dimitrovgrad City Court, after an additional examination appointed by it in November last year, still came to the conclusion that it was necessary to compensate for the full damage, but reduced the amount of damage to 311 million rubles.

In the regional court, the representative of Lev Pavlov, lawyer Alexander Zyuzin, again stated that the amount of the penalty was disproportionate to the violation committed, that responsibility for the violations “should not be borne by Pavlov, but by the minister”, and also that the guilt of his principal was not confirmed by the materials of the criminal case. The prosecutor of the civil-judicial department of the regional prosecutor’s office, Yulia Kholodilina, on the contrary, insisted that “Pavlov’s arguments were reasonably rejected by the court” and “Pavlov was personally responsible, being the chairman of the expert commission, the conclusion of which was the basis for felling the forest.”

Whether the decision of the regional court will be appealed to the cassation instance is unknown: Alexander Zyuzin categorically refused to comment on this case.

The regional prosecutor’s office admits that the amount of damages presented to Mr. Pavlov for compensation is the highest in recent history, “such large sums have not yet been presented to officials.” How Lev Pavlov, a resident of Dimitrovgrad, will be able to pay such an amount is unknown. As senior assistant to the regional prosecutor Vasily Zima explained to Kommersant, now that the decision has entered into force, the writ of execution will be sent to the bailiffs, “who will offer the defendant to voluntarily execute the court decision within five days”, “if he refuses to do this, then his property is seized, and in case of further disregard of the court decision, the defendant may be held criminally liable.”

The regional department of the Federal Bailiff Service (UFSSP) noted that the seizure of Mr. Pavlov’s property had already been imposed, “but there is very little of it: a car and small funds in the accounts.” “If there is not enough property, the bailiff may end the proceedings with an act on the impossibility of further recovery. But if the defendant has a source of income, then the bailiff is obliged to impose a penalty on his salary up to 50% of its size, ”the UFSSP explained.