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RIA Novosti: Regional prosecutors deny claims of Mitvol’s interrogation

15:01 | 12/ 03/ 2007 

MOSCOW, March 12 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow Region prosecutors denied they were questioning an environmental regulator Monday.

A spokesperson for the environmental watchdog said earlier Monday that regional prosecutors were questioning Oleg Mitvol, the deputy head of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources, as part of a slander suit filed by Moscow Region Governor Boris Gromov.

“Mitvol has neither been questioned nor summoned to the Moscow Region Prosecutor’s Office or district offices in the region,” the press service of the regional prosecutor’s office said.

Mitvol said he had had a one-hour conversation with a major from a Moscow district police department over a letter sent by Gromov to the Prosecutor General’s Office questioning the legality of Mitvol’s post. Gromov said Mitvol lacked professional experience and faced no competition for his post before being elected.

But Mitvol said civil service regulations that contained these requirements were not in force when he applied for the job.

He also said the Prosecutor General’s Office had received a letter from lawmakers in the Moscow Region citing interference in the election commission’s work. The official said prosecutors had subsequently sent the case to the Moscow district police department.

When asked about the date of his next interrogation, Mitvol said: “I do not know when the next meeting will take place, but I told them that I sent my views and evidence to the Prosecutor General’s Office long ago.”

On March 14, a Moscow district court will consider a 50 million ruble ($1.9 million) libel suit filed by Gromov over a paper publication citing Mitvol who criticized illegal land assignments in the Barvikha nature reserve near Moscow.

Mitvol is known for his brutal attack on the illegal construction of buildings in protected environmental zones. He has overseen inspections and the inventory of villas in the Moscow Region, which revealed numerous violations concerned with illegal seizure of state-owned land in order to build elite cottages.

Most violations date back to the Yeltsin era and include the mass seizure of land, construction of buildings in the right-of-way zones, the discharge of sewage into reservoirs (which feed the Moscow water supply system), and the felling of unique first category forests.

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