News of the Pavlovsk Experiment Station has been sitting ignored  on the Vavilov Institute’s website since November of last year. The crux of the matter is the legal status of the land on which the priceless collection of crop diversity is maintained.
On the morning of 9 November 2011 President Dmitry Medvedev published a decree “On securing land for the Pavlovsk experimental station.” He furthermore instructed the government to develop a law regulating the legal status of such land, and pass it to the State Duma for consideration within a week. 
VIR Director Nikolay Dzubenko gave the Presidential Decree a cautious welcome, noting that the Federal Housing Agency has not given up its claims on part of the station’s land. “The next test begins immediately,” said Dzyubenko.
The Federal Property Agency refused publicly to clarify its position, but told reporters in private that there is no contradiction with the Presidential decree. According to the Agency, the decree clearly states the need “To take a decision on securing land plots necessary for preservation of the plant genetic resources collection”. The Agency claims that four parcels of land are unused and are thus not necessary for the conservation of plant genetic resources collections. The housing authorities still plan to build on those plots.
Fyodor Mikhovic, director of the Pavlovsk Exeriment Station says that construction will kill the adjacent collections within 2-4 years. Fencing, heavy equipment, chemicals and other insults will destroy the plants. “Everything will be buried,” he said.
Work goes on
As before, the scientists have continued their work. In 2011, for example, they collected 120 tonnes of seed potatoes, all local varieties. In 2012 experiments to create new grain varieties will take place, dedicated to the 125th anniversary of Academician NI Vavilov’s birth.
The VIR article is taken from a much longer news piece that also has a video report. That article gives the background to the story, reminding readers of the sacrifices made by VIR scientists.
Russia could lose a collection that devotees saved literally at the cost of their own lives.
“For them it was not food, it was a collection that had to be saved for future generations,” said Igor Loskutov, head of the oats, rye and barley group at the VIR.
Earlier news reports (see the VIR website) seem to have been directed at undermining the status of the Pavlovsk Experiment Station. These reports claimed that six fields at Pavlovsk were infected with potato golden cyst nematodes, a serious pest, and had been placed under quarantine.
VIR commented that official surveys had found nematode cysts in 2 of the six fields, but in negligible quantities.
One field yielded 13 cysts, with only 3 viable larvae, and the other a single cyst with no viable larvae. Infected fields normally contain hundreds of thousands of cysts.
VIR also said that it complies with all state phytosanitary measures, including rotation of the crops around the fields and fallowing fields under annual grasses and legumes. Golden cyst nematodes will not survive under such conditions. Equipment for cultivating the fields and packaging the potatoes is cleaned regularly, and the harvested potatoes are themselves disinfected to minimize the spread of the nematodes.