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Kharkiv citizens stand up to police and bulldozers

25.05.2010    source:

In Kharkiv’s Gorky Park throughout the night and into Tuesday, protesters stood guard trying to prevent further felling of trees in the park.

The local Internet publication Glavnoe reports that on Tuesday morning serious equipment, including bulldozers, was brought to the scene. Police are saying that they will detain anybody who obstructs the bulldozers’ work.

Activists are adamant in their resolve to block the work.

The tree felling began on Thursday, 20 May. Environmentalists from the organization “Pechenihy” and a Kharkiv regional NGO have been at the scene, together with police officers.

Those carrying out the felling have not provided either activists and journalists, or police with documents showing who authorized the work.  Witnesses point out that there are no safety measures in place, with the trees conceivably falling right on passers-by.  The territory was only cordoned off after police and journalists arrived.

On 21 May activists from an initiative group “Prorvyovsya” [“We’ll break through”] and Pechenihy were detained at the scene of the felling.

On Saturday, environmentalists, sportspeople, local residents and tourists decided to stand guard. They formed a living chain and also formed a kind of barricade from the felled trees.

The workers were forced to stop destroying new trees and deal with those already felled.

Environmentalists are convinced that the number of trees felled is much greater than the number announced by the local authorities.

Earlier the Kharkiv City Council’s Executive Committee permitted work to commence on a vehicle road connecting Sumskaya and Novhorodskaya. The City Council’s Secretary, Hennady Kernes claimed that the road would not go through Gorky Park. He asserted that it would be a high-quality road with four lanes aimed at significantly improving transport infrastructure in preparation for the EURO 2012 Football.

The Executive Committee gave permission for the felling of 503 trees in Gorky Park, in exchange for which the relevant department is supposed to receive 30.5 thousand UAH from the City Budget to plant new trees.

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