Moscow — A group of prominent Russian culture figures issued a statement on Wednesday expressing their concern about the absence of proper environmental control in the country. “The reduction of the life expectancy in Russia by more than 30% is due to environmental reasons” and “by the number of victims, it is comparable to more than one Chechen war,” the authors said. “And at this time the Ministry of Education is trying to exclude ecology from the secondary school program, the Ministry of Internal Affairs forbids an environmental police in Moscow, the Federal Security Service accuses environmental organizations of aiding and abetting espionage without any viable grounds and the Federal Assembly is constantly trying to weaken environmental legislation,” they said. The authors called the Russian president’s recent decree on the abolishment of the State Ecological Committee and the Russian Forestry Committee “the authorities’ tragic mistake.” This “actually put an end to any serious independent control of the state over the condition of nature in the country,” they added. “One must not improve the investment climate in Russia by lifting environmental restrictions and exit an economic crisis by aggravating an environmental one,” they said. In this connection, they called on the Russian government “to join the public movement and find forms of controlling the condition of nature.” Among those who signed the document are writer Alexander Kabakov and film producers Igor Maslennikov, Georgy Daneliya and Vladimir Menshov, among others.