Morjim is a village in Pernem, Goa, India; it is situated on the northern bank of the Chapora River estuary. It is home to a variety of birds and is a nesting site for Olive ridley sea turtles. The village has become known as "Little Russia" because of the concentration of Russian immigrants living there.
Congress Party MP Shantaram Naik has condemned the Russian presence, objecting specifically to rudeness, nudity, and crime including assaults and running businesses in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act. Indian security agencies have become concerned with the Russian mafia involvement in drug trade, prostitution, and land ownership in the formerly quiet beach village. CNN-IBN specifically accused former town and urban planning minister Babush Monserrate of having ties to the Russian mafia.
Politicians have also described the Russian presence as "bad for Goa". Current Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar participated in a Gram Sabha at Morjim in the role of the BJP Goa State President accusing the Russians of having all kind of vices. Vishwanath Azgaonkar & Sonu Shetgaonkar local villagers who participated in the Gram Sabha of Morjim employed the terms 'Drug Mafia" "Russian Mafia".
In response to such complaints, Vikram Varma, a Goa-based lawyer in the employ of Russia's Mumbai consulate, said that of the tens of thousands of Russian visitors to and residents in the area, fifteen were implicated in illegal property deals in 2007 and two were arrested for drugs possession in 2008. He also said Russian visitors as a whole contribute roughly INR to the local economy each year and form 40% of hotel occupancies. Nearly 75% of chartered flights to Goa come from Russia. Consul General Alexander Novikov said there is no Russian mafia in the State despite the consulate's lawyer saying the contrary.
In April 2013, Goa Chief Minister (CM) Manohar Parrikar, who is also Home Minister in charge of Police, told the legislative assembly in Goa that Russian, German or Israeli mafias were not operating in the state. He was responding to a question raised by Congress legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco. Parrikar said "unobtrusive watch" is maintained on the activities of the foreigners staying in Goa. "If any foreigner is found involved in any crime, legal action as per the law is taken", he said.
The Goa BJP Chief Minister was saying the same thing as what North Goa Police Chief said when Congress Govt was in power before BJP. North Goa's superintendent of police had said "it would be an exaggeration to talk of a Russian mafia in Goa, though there have been Russians who have hidden facts about themselves from both the Goa government and the home country.".
Morjim Beach is a nesting and hatching habitat of the Olive ridley sea turtle, an endangered species. They are afforded the highest degree of protection under Indian law through their inclusion in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Egg-poaching or in any manner disturbing the turtles or their habitat is an offence punishable under Indian law.
Protection of marine turtles and their habitat has been embraced by the local community through community-based conservation efforts. These efforts were begun between 1995 and 1996 by a number of local villagers after discussions with Goa-based environmental protection groups. Before this time, the eggs were poached by fishermen, but later the fishermen became fiercely protective of marine turtles.
The Goa Forest Department supports the turtle conservation efforts and has set up a Turtle Conservation Interpretation Centre at the Forest Office in Pernem using funds allotted by the Central Government of India. The Forest Department pays a monthly stipend to young, local volunteers involved in marine turtle conservation efforts in Morjim. A few of these volunteers have found jobs with the Forest Department in recognition of their efforts. Some youth of Morjim have campaigned internationally on the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior.