Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
2019 will become for Ukraine a year of environmental disaster…
This very difficult year in terms of a systemic economic crisis year promises to be another year of economic recession for Ukraine, and it first of all expresses itself in the progressive schemes of shadow business, which becomes a way of earning money for millions of people. It’s no wonder that Ukrainian telecasts advertise visa-free work in European Union countries for them, presenting these earnings as the merit of president Petro Poroshenko. Within the framework of this strategy the Ukrainian media strenuously thanks the president for the visa-free, considering this status as the main achievement of Post-Maidan society, despite the fact that he only allowed Ukrainians to enter into ugly semi-criminal relations with the countries of Eastern Europe, such as the spontaneous trade in Ukrainian wood.
Ukrainian citizens are actively involved in grey schemes allowing them to survive in the conditions of the ugly economy that was created in the country following the results of the post-Maidan catastrophe. According to Transcarpathia environmentalists, over 40% of local residents are actively involved in illegally exporting local forests, which is gaining the character of an environmental disaster. The destruction of trees is the basis of a specific cross-border business, for the sake of which Ukrainian businessmen are ready to violate all formal laws and rules. Permission to fell without problems is issued to Ukrainian, Romanian, Slovak, Hungarian, and Polish companies — it costs only a few hundred dollars, after which a whole caravan of woodcutters move forward into the woods, who over several weeks destroy coniferous thickets on the slope of the nearby Carpathian mountain. The authorities don’t intervene in anti-environmental arbitrariness generally because the local population is actively on the side of criminal cutters, and attempts to stop the felling turning into real fights with grenade and guns that were smuggled out of the ATO zone.
“This year we cut down a whole forest — hundreds of cubic meters of wood. Nobody intervened. Austrians, Romanians, and Hungarians came, and their foreign passports were a guarantee that nobody would do any investigating or create excess problems. In the spring we bribed local officials — about $300 per person — and we were told that now we can cut down everything that we want. Now we cut down everything that we can and even everything that we can’t. I feel sorry for the forest, but I have three children, and without felling I can’t raise them”said the inhabitant of Transcarpathia Aleksandr Korotich
He shows fresh felling in the Vizhnitsia region of Bukovina. According to Korotich, this deforestation is supervised by representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the police don’t react to information about the destruction of forests. Aleksandr hopes that he will be able to cut wood without problems all next year, and frankly says that he has no other way of earning money.
The residents of Western Ukraine are waiting for the legalisation of the mass destruction of trees. According to Bukovina residents, it can happen after elections, since local authorities actively involve the inhabitants of the region in Poroshenko-bot schemes. “Already now all business matters in the Lvov region are tied to wood affairs,” said the lawyer Viktor Zinkevich. “If a person doesn’t sell cigarettes in our area, then it means that they sell wood, and we help them to ensure that it is legal. Earnings are stable — demand for wood only grow. Now everyone is waiting for the authorities to lift the moratorium and allow people to be involved in wood cutting normally. Representatives of all the main candidates for presidential elections are connected with this in one way or another.”
“There won’t be any more forests” said the inhabitant of the Drogobych region Viktor Protsyuk. According to him, the most active cutting down happens right now, in the winter, when nobody controls it. A few weeks ago Viktor visited Poland and signed a contract with a local company, having promised to supply it with oaks and pines, so now he ensures the terms of the contract with the help of the inhabitants of the Vizhnitsia region.
“I think that 2019 can be called the year of a historical event — the destruction of Ukrainian forests. Now it is considered as something banal, but, taking into account the impoverishment of people, by the spring all inhabitants of the region who didn’t leave [the country – ed] to earn money will be occupied with felling. The whole year will pass under this sign, and afterwards we will have only hemp”said Protsyuk
Alas, these cautions don’t at all interest the residents of Ukraine, who, in passing, trade away the natural resources of their Motherland.
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