Moscow region police have uncovered a criminal plot by which 5 hectares of forestland were illegally re-classified, chopped down and 20 cottages built on the territory, RIA-Novosti reported.
A criminal group worked for three years on the endeavor. It includes heads of the garden plot partnership "Morozov House," which had corrupt connections with the administration of the Dmitrov district of the Moscow region and managers of the forest agency of Moscow and the Moscow region, according to a police statement.
Using falsified cadastral documents, more than 5 hectares of forest were transferred out of the state forestry pool and re-classified as land for use by populated settlements, after which 6 million rubles ($200 thousand) worth of trees were cut down and 20 cottages built.
Authorities calculate that overall damages are more than 100 million rubles. The suspects have been arrested and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.