Support The Moscow Times!

Russia Returns Over 4,000 Rare Tortoises to The Wild


More than 4,000 Red List tortoises, which were smuggled into Russia in a cabbage truck, were safely returned to their Arys region of Kazakhstan, the Russian Interior Ministry said on Tuesday.

The tortoises were hidden amongst cabbage in 24 bags on the back of a truck which was stopped at the Russia-Kazakhstan border on June 7.

The driver claimed he did not know about the cargo and did not know the owner of the reptiles, according to the Interior Ministry, which is still investigating the case.

The ministry, which released footage of the tortoises on Tuesday, said the rare reptiles can cost around 7,790,000 rubles ($117,284).

Before being returned, police officers housed the reptiles in an empty building at the Orenburg Pedagogical University, where they were cared for by students and professors for over a month before they were returned to Kazakhstan.

Read more

Independent journalism isn’t dead. You can help keep it alive.

As the only remaining independent, English-language news source reporting from Russia, The Moscow Times plays a critical role in connecting Russia to the world.

Editorial decisions are made entirely by journalists in our newsroom, who adhere to the highest ethical standards. We fearlessly cover issues that are often considered off-limits or taboo in Russia, from domestic violence and LGBT issues to the climate crisis and a secretive nuclear blast that exposed unknowing doctors to radiation.

Please consider making a one-time donation — or better still a recurring donation — to The Moscow Times to help us continue producing vital, high-quality journalism about the world's largest country.