Russia to tighten legislation on trafficking rare animal species derivatives

Russia to tighten legislation on trafficking rare animal species derivatives

25 November 2014

The Ministry for Natural Resources plans to introduce a ban on the import of polar bear derivatives, Deputy Minister Rinat Gizatulin told a news conference on Internet trade in wild animals posing a threat to the natural environment.


First of all, the Government plans to draft a resolution to prevent dealers from passing off polar bear hide and similar articles as imported goods, he said.


Furthermore, the plan includes changing the Criminal Code to equate all instances of illegal trade (including online trade) in rare animal derivatives to poaching. It is also necessary to introduce the prosecution of buyers alongside sellers, similar to the way that anti-drug legislation works, the deputy minister added.


In 2015, the Ministry for Natural Resources and the Ministry of Communications plan to submit to the Government amendments to current legislation, which will equal illegal trade in rare animals and their derivatives on the Internet to marketing other illegal goods such as drugs and pornographic products. For-sale offers about these products will be equated to information instigating hatred on ethnic and other grounds.


In Gizatulin’s words, if these amendments are adopted, the Rosprirodnadzor environmental watchdog will be authorised to appeal to the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) to block offensive websites.


The Ministry for Natural Resources also plans to conduct a major awareness campaign, including advocacy ads featuring popular media figures, aimed against illegal trade on the Internet. The campaign is to help create a negative image of both the sellers and the buyers of rare species and their derivatives.


The Ministry’s official website will offer a hotline service for reports regarding registered offences, including the online sales of rare animals or their derivatives, poaching and smuggling. These reports will be verified by law enforcement agencies. “At present, illegal trade is largely concentrated on social media platforms,” Gizatulin said. “We plan to actively support public associations’ and law-abiding and responsible citizens’ initiatives to fight illegal trade on social networks. We believe that Russia needs a special public organisation aimed at fighting environmental cybercrime in a similar way as the ‘Stop Boor’ project is fighting traffic violations.”


(Photo © Maxim Deminov)

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