After a meeting with WWF Russia CEO, Dr. Igor Chestin in August 2012, the draft law that was submitted by President Putin in March 2013 regarding the legislative amendments for tougher punishments to poachers and traffickers of rare animals has been approved by the Russia’s State Duma.
In retrospect, the legislative law only punishes poachers and traffickers that carry illegal trades worth up to RUB1.1 million (US$35,000). In addition, the Russia legislation did not provide any solution on how to determine the value of the illegal trades which imposed a challenging tasks for wildlife crime investigations.
According to the WWF website, ‘this March, the government increased the compensation due from anyone convicted of killing or taking from the wild tigers and leopards and other endangered species, including certain birds of prey, to RUB1.1 million (US$35,000), a move that has now been endorsed through a new bill by the State Duma.’
As claimed by WWF Russia CEO, Dr. Igor Chestin, WWF has been working for 15 years with support of the president and his chief of staff, Sergey Ivanov, in an effort to close the loophole that exists within the previous legislation. With the current amended law, smugglers who possess animal parts regardless of the volume and value will have to face the law or even greater consequences.
Based on the review of the Russian legislation conducted by WWF and TRAFFIC in 2012, the previous law has given the opportunity for poachers and smugglers to escape the law with just a slap on the wrist fine.
Since the legislation has been approved, the need to enforce it is significant, claimed TRAFFIC’s Alexey Vaisman, who helped in the legislative review.
“The number of rangers and game inspectors has fallen dramatically in recent years and needs to be increased, and while we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, institutional support is needed to see the light of day.”
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