Kharkiv environmentalists protest over dangerous new law


Protests have taken place in a last attempt to convince President Yanukovych of the need to veto the Law on Regulation of Urban Construction.

Activists from the programme “We Understand Human Rights” called on all concerned to come on 22 February to regional State administrations and register their protest against a law which, they say, could destroy all parks, squares and green zones. In Kharkiv the protest is scheduled for Wednesday. The environmentalists have declared 23 February the Day in Defence of the Forest Park – the city’s large green zone.   According to Andriy Ilhov, Head of the group “We’’ Break Through” activists from different environmental and other civic organizations will be protesting against the new law and against the destruction and construction in the city’s green zones. “We are yet again sending information requests to the Prosecutor’s Office over the fact that the City Council is allocated large plots of land, from 6 to 30 hectares, to residential construction cooperatives. We consider this corruption”. 

The Head of the environmental organization Pechenihy, Serhiy Shaparenko says that if the latest nationwide protest against the new Law on Regulation of Urban Construction  fails to have any impact on those in power, a letter will be sent from Kharkiv to the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee since with this law Ukraine is fragrantly infringed the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. “The law yet again fails to allow for public opinion regarding allocation of land for development being taken into account even at the pitiful level as at present. Effectively it will be possible to cut down trees anywhere without any compensation to communities”.

Andriy Ilhov says that the civic activists in Kharkiv have already concluded that it’s time to present the government with an ultimatum.  He says that if the government passes a law “for itself”, the activists are ready to “move into the phase of civil disobedience”.

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