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Joint Russian-Chinese Venture In Chuvashia Accused Of Violation Of Environment Regulations

A sign belonging to the Sichuan-Chuvashia agricultural joint venture.
A sign belonging to the Sichuan-Chuvashia agricultural joint venture.

CHEBOKSARY, Russia -- A Russian-Chinese company has been charged with violating environmental safety regulations in Russia's Republic of Chuvashia, where expanding Chinese investment has sparked protests over alleged corruption.

Officials at the directorate of the agricultural regulator, Rosselkhoznadzor, in Chuvashia told RFE/RL on August 20 that the Sichuan-Chuvashia Chinese-Russian agricultural joint venture was officially charged with neglecting agricultural lands leased to it that now are covered by weeds, creating the threat of wildfires.

The joint company may face up a fine of up to 700,000 rubles ($9,500).

Less than two weeks earlier, the head of the Bolshiye Algashi village in Chuvashia, Maksim Medvedev, was handed a suspended prison sentence of more than three years after a court convicted him of forging documents related to public discussions that never occurred to allocate the lands in 2019 to the Sichuan-Chuvashia.

A lawmaker at Chuvashia's State Council, Aleksandr Andreyev, had accused the republic's top officials of involvement in the illegal allocation of lands to the joint venture.

From Africa to Central Asia, China has aggressively pursued investment opportunities. Officials have largely welcomed them, but the public in many cases is wary if not outright hostile to the new Chinese guests, faulting them, among other things, for importing Chinese labor rather than hiring locals.

In recent years, residents of Chuvashia have staged numerous rallies protesting Chinese companies' involvement in the economic development of the region, accusing local authorities of corruption related to such Chinese projects.

More than 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in its Belt and Road projects like railways, ports, highways, and other infrastructure.

Critics say the plan to create a modern version of the ancient Silk Road trade route to link China with Asia, Europe and beyond is a vehicle for the expansion of Communist China. Beijing says such doubts betray the "imperial hangover" of many Western powers that humiliated China for centuries.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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