Villagers defying an oligarch who poisoned their land endued with beating
“One day Ryaba the Chicken laid a golden egg,” a traditional Slavic folk story tells. “But the elders weren’t happy. For they could not boil the egg, could not eat it since they could not break it,” the fairytale goes. Unrelated it may seem, this story is surprisingly real for the villagers of Ukraine. It very well describes their current situation in a fight against the nature exploitation and money overpowering.
In 2010, the largest industrial chicken production company in Ukraine - Myronivsky Hliboprodukt (MHP) started the construction of a massive poultry farm near the Chetvertynivka village. “They have promised us a steady and well paid jobs for everyone,” Sukhopara explains the very beginning of the whole story. The pledge of new jobs and high wages helped the MHP to get a public support in building of two brigades on the area of 37 ha (91 acres).
When the mistake gets clear
Soon enough the locals realized the outcome of MHP’s production - the soil and water pollution, the decreasing water level in Pivdennyi Buh river, an omnipresent awful smell and enormous enhancement of the traffic passing through the village, which made some houses literally uninhabitable.
And not even the life quality promises were kept. “In 2010 the MHP employed about ten percent of us, that means around 90 people, but nobody stayed there for a long time since the working conditions are not acceptable there,” Sukhopara himself explains the reason that changed people’s mind. So when the MHP came with the suggestion to build more brigades the local community started to raise concerns about the growing negative impact of the factory.
“A local farmer who had leased a land from the villagers signed a underhanded
contract with the MHP for them to use 120 ha of our fields.”
Even though a majority of the village voted against the expansion during the public hearing in October 2015, the secret contract allowed the MHP to start the construction as planned and soon the construction technique started to excavate the fertile black soil (chernozem) of Chetvertynivka.
Swift protest and a bloody retribution
Suchopara quickly organised a protest, informed all concerned parties (the mayor and the MHP representatives) and together with another 300 residents of Chetvertynivka started a blockade of the original two brigades from November 2nd, 2015, letting no trucks in or out. After four days a MHP manager Maxim Pisarev arrived promptly to make an agreement. The MHP will stop the illegal construction, will return all the excavated soil and won’t persecute the participants of the blockade, Pisarev promised.
Two weeks after signing the memorandum on November 21th Volodymyr Suchopara and his wife went to the market in Ladyzhyn to sell their farming products.
“I was sitting in the car. Suddenly two unknown men tapped my window saying
there was something wrong with my rear wheel. When I stepped out there
they were with iron bars and brass knuckles in their hands…”
It was still dark in the morning when the two punchers attacked Sukhopara. Volodymyr’s wife rushed out from the car and startled the men. Volodymyr ended up with an eyebrow cut, beaten and bruised. “It happened only two weeks after our blockade. I’m 52 years old and I’ve never had any problems like that. I think the men must have been hired by MHP,” Sukhopara expresses his opinion.
If you thought this is an exceptional incident, think again. The same two men attacked a local civil society activist Andriy Skakodub and later that exact year also a Cherkasy region village chairman Vasyl Tkachenko. Mrs. Sukhopara even recognized the men from Tkachenko’s photos and found out their names, but the police did absolutely nothing in the name of justice nevertheless.
Next destination: Europe
The MHP has naturally never admitted any involvement in the whole case. Instead the company which has been accused of soil exploitation, breaking the ecological limits, causing an environmental pollution and civil rights violation has expanded to the Netherlands and Slovakia and plans to spread in many countries of the European Union.
“In a traditional fairytale of Ryaba the Chicken people couldn’t eat golden eggs.
We also want to breathe fresh air and to eat regular unpoisoned food.”
ENG Lost in transition: 25 Years of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (CEE Bankwatch Network)
ENG 30/07/2015 Ukraine agribusiness firms in 'quiet land grab' with development finance (Claire Provost, Matt Kennard and Bertha Fellows, The Guardian)
UKR 05/11/2015 The people from Chetvertynivka are blocking roads to the poultry bridages for already five days (Anastasia Jakovichina, 33kanal.com)
UKR 21/11/2015 VIDEO: The participant of protest against the henniks in Vinnitsa region was brutally beaten (Pravona.org on YouTube)
UKR 24/11/2015 The activist form Ladyzhyn was beaten with brass knuckles because of “Kurochka Rjaba” (Viktor Skripnik on vn.20minut.ua)
UKR 24/11/2015 The man from Vinnytsja suffered because of the poultry farm (Tetjana Sherbatjuk, Vlasno.info)
UKR 02/12/2015 The operation “Antibroyler”. The end of the armistice (Young Ukraine)