Crimeans told to stop stealing sand from beaches

Sand-thieves!

Officials in Crimea are warning people to stop stealing sand from tourist beaches, or else face a prison sentence.

The peninsula’s beaches are being targeted by people who remove the sand for use as free building material, the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper reports. At more remote beaches it’s being taken away by the lorry-load, the paper says.

“Everyone we catch at this needs to be prosecuted,” says Sergei Aksyonov, prime minister of Crimea’s Russian-backed government. “When people are stealing sand in broad daylight, what exactly are we doing about it?” According to the Tass news agency, Mr Aksyonov wants to get Russia’s FSB – the successor agency to the KGB – involved to help catch them.

Sand theft can hit local authorities finances hard. In February, a group of builders were charged with illegally removing more than 1bn roubles-worth ($15.4m; £10.6m) near Moscow.

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