MOSCOW, June 20. /TASS/. The problem with releasing two killer whales (orcas) kept at a rehabilitation center in Srednyaya Bay in Russia’s Far East is related to the high price of these mammals, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out at Thursday's Q&A session.
"The problem is well-known, and in general it is clear why these difficulties are emerging. As far as I know, the orcas cost nearly $100 mln. That’s why there are a lot of interested parties here, and that’s why the problem cannot be solved easily. There are always hurdles in finding a solution when this concerns big money," Putin said, adding that the problem is being ironed out now.
Eleven orcas had been kept for sale to China in the facility in Srednyaya Bay along with 90 beluga whales. However, three beluga whales went missing, and one orca reportedly disappeared. A criminal case has been launched into illegal hunting of these mammals.
Putin instructed the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Ministry of Agriculture together with scientific organizations in late February to come up with a solution for the whales. The Russian presidential administration took the whale issue under special control. In mid-May, the authorities in Primorye announced that the mammals could be freed within two months.
In late May, the Federal Security Service’s Border Directorate in Primorye sent to court files on three cases on administrative offence against several legal entities, which had been involved in hunting the mammals. The court has found three companies guilty of violating the rules of fishing and ordered them to pay fines of between 28 mln rubles ($443,000) and 56 mln rubles ($886,000).