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09.07.2009

It took an environmentalist’s murder to make the authorities move

   

Despite the fact that the investigation into the murder of Oleksandr Goncharov is still  at the initial stages, the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA] has begun actively fighting illegal extraction of sand, minerals, etc from the Dnipro River. The investigators now believe that Mr Goncharov’s murder was linked to his active opposition to the devastation of the ecosystem at and around Zhukiv Island near Kyiv.

In a letter to an environmental group, the Central Department of the MIA in Kyiv informed that on 4 June the Kyiv MIA had issued an instruction on operational and preventive measures for protecting river areas around Kyiv. Another department within the MIA has carried out checks as to whether activities involving deposition and removal of sand in the river areas by commercial bodies are legal. A working group was also set up on 9 June to carry out checks as to the use of natural resources within Kyiv’s boundaries. Between 12 June and 12 July this group should be checking the legality of all operations involving the extraction of sand, etc, as well as minerals of local significance.

As a result of this, criminal investigations have been initiated under Articles 197 § 2 and 240 of the Criminal Code against the companies “Gepard” [Cheetah”] and “Alliance”. These include the dredger which figures in the Goncharov case. The public, including the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine [NECU], as well, of course, as Oleksandr Goncharov, had repeatedly asked the controlling bodies to stop the illegal dredging however the work had continued for a long time.

It looks as though the terrible murder of Oleksandr Goncharov has finally made the MIA begin fighting the devastation of these natural resources.

As reported already, Oleksandr Goncharov was murdered on 26 May by two assailants, and his wife was badly beaten. During the past two years he had been active in trying to stop the illegal extraction and sale of sand from Zhukiv Island by several commercial firms.

During the two days before his murder, Mr Goncharov accompanied a filming team from TV Channel ICTV to the place where the sand was being removed. The coverage led to the police being called and the extraction stopped.

The police have detained one man in connection with the killing.

From information provided by NECU at www.civicua.org

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