Story By: Ginger Mahotchina, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
Video Credit: CEN/@MinistryOfInternalAffairs
This is the moment the Russian authorities arrest two people for illegally smuggling over 4,000 rare tortoises into the country from Kazakhstan and keeping them in potato sacks in a garage.
Officers from the National Guard detained an unnamed Russian man and woman from an unspecified Central Asian country in the city of Orenburg in the south-western Russian region of Orenburg Oblast, bordering with Kazakhstan.
The suspects are accused of bringing into the country over 4,000 Afghan tortoises (Agrionemys horsfieldii), also commonly known as Russian tortoises, categorised as ‘vulnerable’ on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The tortoises were allegedly smuggled into Russia from Kazakhstan, according to the local authorities.
Reports said that the female suspect is currently under preventative detention while the Russian man is under house arrest as the investigation continues.
If the suspects are found guilty of smuggling rare animals into the country, they could face between three and seven years in prison along with a fine of 1 million RUB (12,155 GBP).
Meanwhile, the 4,000 tortoises have been taken to the veterinary faculty of the Orenburg State Agricultural University where they are reportedly doing well.
The authorities plan to release them in their natural habitat in the Eurasian Steppe.
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