A criminal group in Volyn chopped down wood worth millions of hryvnias

A criminal group in Volyn chopped down wood worth millions of hryvnias

Anna Velyka

Dealers face up to 7 years behind bars

Law enforcement officers exposed an organized criminal group that, with the assistance of officials, illegally cut down trees worth UAH 7 million on the territory of Manevychi and Kolkiv forestries in Volyn.

This was reported by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).

The deal was initiated by the owner of a woodworking company. As accomplices, he involved a driver, three foresters, one of whom is currently the head of the company in Rivne region.

The forestry officials selected plots of land and, under the guise of legitimate work, cut down much more wood than was provided for by the permits. Such illegal logging lasted from July to December 2023.

From September to November alone, they cut down 337 pine trees on the territory of the forestries. The environmental damage caused by the illegal actions amounted to almost UAH 4.2 million. They also illegally cut down oaks and other valuable trees. The inspectors estimated the total environmental damage at UAH 7 million.

After demolition, the trees were transported to the enterprise, processed and later sold in Ukraine and abroad.

The organizer and 4 members of the group were informed by the SBI about the suspicion of illegal felling of trees committed by an organized group (Part 3 of Article 28, Part 4 of Article 246 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The sanction of the article provides for punishment in the form of deprivation of liberty for a term of up to 7 years.


Photo: dbr.gov.ua

In order to compensate for the damages caused to the state, the court, at the request of the SBI, seized wood worth UAH 1.2 million and special equipment worth UAH 5 million.

As EcoPolitic has repeatedly written, the heads of forestry departments and institutions are regularly caught by law enforcement officers for corruption. The forestry reform that the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has been implementing for over a year has not brought the desired improvement either. As part of it, all forestry enterprises were liquidated and the state-owned enterprise "Forests of Ukraine" was created instead. The company absorbed all forestry enterprises and took over their right to use the forests.

In mid-June, the BlackBox OSINT project released an investigation into the activities of the former head of the State Forestry Agency and now the CEO of the state enterprise "Forests of Ukraine" Yuriy Bolokhovets. In it, the whistleblowers cited facts that, according to the authors, may indicate that he not only did not fight corruption and illegal logging in the industry, but also led them.