Thursday, October 4, 2018

Illegal Russian Loggers in Siberia and the Russian Far East Cooperating with Chinese, Residents Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 4 – Russians east of the Urals have long complained that officials have sold off their forests to the Chinese (, but ever more of them say that China is acquiring the lumber not as a result of official malfeasance but rather because of the actions of illegal Russian loggers.

            No local resident doubts, Denis Bevz of Radio Liberty’s SibReal portal says, that China is the ultimate beneficiary and that it works hand in glove with Russian criminal groups to illegally harvest the forests of Siberia and the Russian Far East (, but people there now see some Russians other than officials as most complicitous.

            This shift in the objects of blame has two significant consequences. On the one hand, it opens the way for Russian officials to launch a campaign against illegal Russian logging, a step that would be extremely popular. And on the other, it means that anger at China has now been linked together with anger at Russian criminality.

            Of course, there is not a completely clear division between Russian officialdom which is in this sector often extremely corrupt and organized Russian criminal gangs; but it is striking that for the first time, Russians are blaming Russians and not just Chinese for the devastation of the region, a development that may defuse some anti-Chinese feeling there.

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