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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Auditors Check Out Greens

Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they have completed a nationwide check of environmental groups but the results of the audit will not be announced until mid-May.

Tamara Pakhomenko, who heads the department in the Prosecutor General's Office that oversees environmental organizations, said the check into ecological organizations across Russia was planned last year after her office had received large numbers of complaints from regional governors and law enforcement agencies about environmentalists "abusing their funds and power."She refused to elaborate.

When the audit began, organizations that were being investigated said it was an attempt to curtail their work.

And last month, six U.S. environmental organizations protested the audits in an open letter to acting President Vladimir Putin.

The letter, signed by the Sacred Earth Network, Bellona USA and other groups, said the checks were "clearly designed to harass" environmentalists.

But Pakhomenko said the audit - carried out by regional prosecutors with the assistance of the tax inspectorate and regional branches of the Justice Ministry - was not aimed to hinder environmental activism.

"This was simply a planned audit," Pakhomenko said.

Pakhomenko said it will take her department until May 15 to review the reports. She refused to comment on the results of the investigation until then.