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The presidential administration declared land withdrawal in the Yugyd Va National Park in Komi for gold mining illegal

Dmitry Stepanovsky
The Yugyd Va National Park
Photo of the Greenpeace Russia website

The presidential administration declared land withdrawal in the Yugyd Va National Park in Komi for gold mining illegal. The agency's response stated that this was contrary to current legislation and international obligations. This was announced on January 13 by the press service of the Russian branch of Greenpeace.

On November 15, 2019, the Russian branch of Greenpeace sent a request to the presidential administration not to transfer a site of 50 thousand hectares from the protected area of the Yugyd Va National Park for gold mining. According to eco-activists, industrialists can destroy the ecosystem of the the Virgin Komi Forests UNESCO World Heritage Site. 105 thousand people signed a petition launched by activists for the preservation of the Park in its current form.

On December 26, the presidential administration sent a response stating that the withdrawal of part of the land from the National Park contradicts the current legislation and international obligations. Border changes must be approved in advance by UNESCO.

Ecologist Ivan Ivanov told 7x7 that the response of the presidential administration was a "surprise" in modern Russia, although he explained that officials could not have given any other solution. According to him, with the support of major investors and government agencies, such as the Komi Ministry of Natural Resources, gold miners will not stop trying to withdraw land. As an example, he cited the non-execution of the decision of the Komi Commercial Court, which obliged the Gold Minerals Company to take out the equipment:

- The Park has two protection mechanisms. Our legislation, which protects natural areas, and the international treaty, the status of a world heritage site. Even if they overcome our things, they will still have to face UNESCO. There are other mechanisms, risks, and the reputation of the state.

In the summer of 2019, the Gold Minerals Company (Cyprus) demanded that the Minister of Natural Resources withdrew almost 50 thousand hectares of land from the National Park in the Kozhim basin for the development of the Chudnoye deposit and new territories. The Ecology All-Russian Research Institute, subordinated to the Ministry of Natural Resources, was instructed to justify the land withdrawal.

According to Greenpeace Russia, the Gold Minerals Company, which was going to mine gold, planned to get permission to use the Park's land by November 2019. Environmentalists believe that land withdrawal from Yugyd Va is contrary to the law even under the guise of expanding the protected area (by joining neighboring forests).

According to Greenpeace Russia, specialized Russian authorities have extended the license of the Gold Minerals Company for the Chudnoye deposit in Yugyd Va until 2021.

The Yugyd Va National Park was established in 1994, it is included in the Virgin Komi Forests UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In October 2018, Sergey Gaplikov, the head of the Komi Republic, asked the Minister of Natural Resources to help change the borders of the National Park in order to withdraw gold deposits from its territory and replace them with the lands of the Vuktyl and Pechora-Ilych forestry.

The government of Komi tried to implement a project for gold mining in Yugyd Va several times, despite the ban of industrial works in the reserve.

In September 2019, Minister of Natural Resources of Komi Roman Polshvedkin spoke in favor of conducting any activity in the national park exclusively by law, in compliance with all norms. But at the same time, he admitted the presence of a political component in the problem of preserving the national park.


Dmitry Stepanovsky, «7х7»

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