15% of Environment in Russia Fails to Meet Admissible Norms

Duma to FinalizeAmendments to Forest Code in Late September

ITAR-TASS News Agency, 22 July 2003

Chairman of theState Duma committee on agrarian issues Gennady Kulik told ITAR-TASS on Mondaythat the drat amendments to the Forest Code of the Russian Federation would befinalized in the second half of September.


Mr. Kulik wasreacting to word that President Vladimir Putin had requested that the State Dumareview the amendments to the Forest Code which the lower house passed upon firstreading in June.


The draft federallaw No.324740-3 “On changes and additions to the Forest Code of the RussianFederation” is drawn up to regulate issues related to conversion offorested land areas to other categories, as well as converting forested landareas into deforested areas. The draft law defines conditions and procedures forconstruction projects in the country’s forested areas.


The head of statesent a statement on the draft law to State Duma chairman Gennady Seleznyov. Thepresident said in the statement, “There is no disputing of the keyprovisions of the draft law” but added that the document “includesprovisions that are at variance with the Land Code of the Russian Federation andthe Federal law “Concerning specially protected land areas”.


According to thepresident, the discrepancies are particularly visible in the draft lawprovisions that envisage conversion of forests in the national natural preservesand national parks to land areas that fall within other categories.


The presidentalso expressed a number of remarks concerning the conditions for convertingforested areas to areas that fall within other categories. The head of statedrew attention to the fact that the withdrawal of land areas from the forestfund for public and municipal needs was already regulated by the Land Code, andin a manner that differs from that envisaged by the draft law.


Thus, the draftlaw passed by the State Duma on first reading fails to take into account thatthe withdrawal of land areas from the forest fund for public and municipal needsis admissible in exclusive situations, for example, situations related to thefulfillment of international obligations of the Russian Federation.


The presidentalso proposed bringing a number of other articles of the draft law in line withthe effective Land and Forest codes. The draft law”may be supported on condition that it is finalized,” the statementsaid.


Mr. Kulik notedthat in the course of the preparation of the draft amendments for second readingmore criticism would be voiced than the president included in his statement.


He said both thefinalized amendments and the draft law as a whole (with amendments added) wouldcome up for second reading in the course of the autumn session of the State Dumathat will reconvene after summer recess on 9 September 2003.


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