Sechin Takes Mitvol's Peers to Task for 'Systematic Disregard'

Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin on Tuesday ordered Natural Resources and Environment Minister Yury Trutnev and the head of the ministry's environmental watchdog to hold to account two of the organization's deputy heads for disregarding a government order.

Sechin sent a letter to Trutnev and Vladimir Kirillov, head of the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use, requiring them to hold Alexei Akulov and Vladimir Smolin responsible for "systematic disregard of government orders and a failure to provide [or suppression of] information," RIA-Novosti reported.

The letter gives Trutnev and Kirillov until Nov. 25 to provide Sechin with documents showing that Akulov and Smolin have been disciplined.

The order comes the day after another of the service's deputy heads, Oleg Mitvol, took his employer to court over a drawn-out dispute that saw Kirillov eliminate one of the four deputy positions in September. Mitvol is asking the court to require the service to give a written test to its deputy heads to determine who is most qualified to keep their positions.

But the underlying reason for Mitvol's firing may have been the Moscow region's move to change the status of 1,000 hectares of protected land, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Tuesday, citing a source in the natural resources service.

The source said Mitvol interfered with the ministry's "tacit approval" of plans to rezone the land to allow for residential construction.

At $300 to $800 per square meter for undeveloped land, property in the Moscow region is a hot commodity, and land designated for elite developments has been exhausted.

According to the Land Code, only the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Federal Inspection Service for Natural Resources Use can rezone land designated as "specially protected" to allow for development.