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GORNO-ALTAISK, May 5 (Itar-Tass) — The Altai Republic's Committee for Wildlife Protection has filed a suit against three former defendants of the case of illegal hunting in the Altai mountains in January 2009. The hunting for argali (mountain sheep) ended in a helicopter crash.
The environmentalists sue them for 900,000 roubles for damage. The suit is brought in the court of Moscow's Cheryomushki district, where the defendants reside.
The defendants are former vice-premier of the Altai Republic's government Anatoly Bannykh, deputy director of Moscow's Institute of Economy and Law Nikolai Kapranov and director-general of the Ineko company Boris Belinsky, a committee source told Itar-Tass on Saturday.
Bannykh, Kapranov and Belinsky were charged with "illegal hunting in a group by prior agreement with causing damage with the use of aircraft against species of animals, hunting for which is prohibited".
According to the investigators, they hunted illegally for mountain sheep and killed three of the animals listed in the Red Book as endangered species. Damage they did is estimated at 900,000 roubles.
The criminal case was opened after a Mi-171 helicopter of the Gazpromavia airline crashed in the Kosh-Agach district on January 9, 2009. Those who were aboard had hunted for argali right from the helicopter. The wrecked helicopter was found after three days of searching. Out of the three crewmembers and the eight passengers, only four survived. Among the seven victims were presidential representative in the State Duma Alexander Kosopkin and head of the Altai Republic's Wildlife Protection Committee Viktor Kaimin.
On March 23, last year, the Kosh-Agach district court found the defendants not involved in the illegal hunting. The three said they had not participated in the hunting. However, on August 11, the republic's Supreme Court, following the appeal of the prosecutor's office, overruled the verdict of not guilty and referred the case to the district court for reconsideration, but by other judges. Finally, the court in December dismissed the criminal case against them and exempted them from liability.