Gorky Park Scandal: One Year on
One year ago in Kharkiv the scandalous construction was initiated of a road through the city’s Gorky Park. Almost two thousand members of the public tried in vain to stop the barbaric destruction of century-old trees. No criminal investigation against the officials involved has been initiated.
Instead of the 500 trees named in the official documents, 2 thousand were felled, the defenders of the Park say. According to Serhiy Shaparenko, Head of the environmental group Pechenihy, this was grounds for criminal prosecution a year back. “The felling was illegal. And the construction of the road had not been agreed with the community and the Department for the Environmental, there are no environmental assessments regarding exhaust fumes from cars”.
Yulia Yudina from the initiative group “We’ll break through!” reports that the road is not serving to ease traffic in that part of the city as had been claimed it would by officials. Furthermore, its cost, according to various estimates between 40 and 80 million UAH, is equivalent to the amount spent last year on repears to the roads in the entire city. The activists tried for 9 months to stop the construction via the costs. Yet the court found it lawful. Yulia Yudina says that this was due to falsification of documents. “We saw that the authorities had several variants of the decisions from the Council session, several versions of the general plan of the city”.
A year after the beginning of the scandalous construction an alternative Kharkiv court, a civic one, found three officials, including the Mayor and the former Head of Police, guilty. The final “verdict” will appear after an Internet vote on the court’s website. In Kharkiv they are also hoping for a judgement from a real court, the European Court of Human Rights where an application regarding violation of people’s rights during the protests has been sent.