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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Russia causing 'environmental disaster' in Ukraine
by Staff Writers
Le Bourget, France (AFP) Nov 30, 2015


Russian deserter detained after more than 10 years of hiding in forest
Moscow (AFP) Nov 30, 2015 - Police have apprehended an army deserter who hid in a forest in eastern Russia for more than a decade and kept his whereabouts secret from even his family, regional authorities said Monday.

The 30-year-old man, whose identity was not made public, was drafted into the military in 2003 and was stationed in the remote Kamchatka peninsula for one year before fleeing the army's ranks, police said.

"He lived in Kamchatka all this time, mainly hiding in the forest," the regional branch of the interior ministry said in a statement. "He got by with odd jobs and did not attempt to get in touch with his family."

The search for the deserter, who hails from the southern Russian city of Taganrog, was stopped when his family erroneously identified a dead body as that of their missing relative a few months after his disappearance, the statement said.

TASS news agency reported that the deserter's family had even buried who they thought was their missing relative.

The soldier would have deserted because of "family problems," TASS quoted regional authorities as saying.

The deserter reportedly had built himself a home out of old construction materials on the outskirts of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and made a living by working on a private pig farm and collecting scrap, among other odd jobs.

Soldiers found guilty of desertion can face up to seven years in prison under Russian law. In 2003, mandatory military service lasted two years, a duration which has since been reduced to a year.

Valentina Melnikova, the head of Russia's Committee of Soldiers' Mothers, told AFP she doubted the soldier would receive prison time for his offence.

"There were lots of deserters in those days in the Far East. We've had cases when some would hide in a basement for years, but they would go through a psychiatric examination and would be set free," she said.

The Chief Military Prosecutor's office did not reply to a request for comment.

Russia risks causing an "environmental disaster" in eastern Ukraine with its support for rebel forces, President Petro Poroshenko told a UN climate conference in Paris on Monday.

"My country has become a victim of hybrid warfare, which has hybrid effects. One of them is a risk of environmental disaster in the eastern part of Ukraine, Donbass," Poroshenko told delegates.

He paid tribute to the "courage and unbroken spirit" of the French in the wake of this month's attack by the Islamic State group that left 130 dead in Paris.

But he said this was "a daily reality for Ukraine for almost 21 months".

"We have been suffering from the terrorism sponsored and promoted by the Russian Federation," he said.

Poroshenko accused pro-Russian forces in the eastern Donbass region of having "flooded many mines", leading to the poisoning of drinking water and the soil.

Russia denies directly supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, and Poroshenko's speech underlined the challenge of reaching a unanimous global agreement on climate change over the next fortnight when many of the participants are involved in bitter conflicts with each other.

Poroshenko added that the ground and atmosphere "have been heavily polluted" by the use of shells and artillery in the on-going conflict, which has claimed more than 8,000 lives since it broke out in early 2014.

Ukraine has vowed to keep its carbon emissions below 60 percent of 1990 levels in the lead-up to the climate talks and said it would go even further if peace was restored to the east of the country.

Money for reconstruction in Donbass would be "an investment in combating climate change," he said.


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