(published by: BBC Monitoring InternationalReports, 22 May 2004)
Valeriy Roshchupkin, the chairman of Russia’s FederalForestry Agency, was asked to tackle the subject of forest fires in RussianMayak radio’s “People and Power” interview slot on 22 May, presentedby Yuliy Semenov (30 minutes long).
The situation, though grave, is under control, Roshchupkin said. His figureswere that, last year, forest fires affected an area of more than 500,000 ha. Bycomparison, a total of 122,000 ha has been affected this year.
In a pre-recorded interview, Leonid Drachevskiy, Putin’s envoy to the SiberianFederal District, said that nine out of 10 forest fires in Siberia last yearwere caused by “criminal” negligence or carelessness, which meant morehad to be done in terms of law enforcement. Consequently, a dedicated policeunit, which Drachevskiy described as “forest police”, has been formedin Irkutsk Region. The pilot project could then be extended to other regions.
Siberia, Roshchupkin added, accounts for three-quarters of all forest fires inRussia. On the technical side, he said satellite surveillance was now inwidespread use by the forestry service to monitor the situation with forestfires all over Russia. He backed Drachevskiy’s call for harsher punishment forrelated offences, with many callers insistent this had to be done as a matter ofpriority. He urged a greater emphasis on prevention work and saw the need forresponsible ownership, with Russia’s new Forestry Code to reflect the latterpoint notably through the encouragement of longer-term leases
Source: Radio Mayak, Moscow, in Russian 0805 gmt 22 May 2004