On December 16, members of the regional branch of the Communist Party held a protest rally in Syktyvkar. Initially, they stated two topics – environmental problems in the region, including refusal to hold a referendum on the prohibition of the old oil pipelines exploitation, and cancelation of compulsory Komi language in schools. But the speakers also raised other resonant topics – cutting down a pine forest in the village of Shudayag for the construction of a helicopter pad and cutting down trees near Syktyvkar clinic. The correspondent of «7x7» followed the event.
Snow removal before the rally
10 minutes before the rally began, 10 Communist activists stood on the steps of the Komi opera and ballet theater. Near the fountains there was a snow grooming equipment.
One of the communists recalled snow grooming equipment and extinguished lighting during the protest rally on the Theater Square in December 2011.
At 14:05 the equipment left the square, members of the Communist Party with posters appeared on the steps of the theater; Ilya Bogdanov, a member of the Syktyvkar Council, announced the launch of the event in a loudspeaker.
"Komi State Council is not interested in real issues"
The first to speak was the secretary of the Syktyvkar city committee of the Communist Party, Andrey Nikulin. He noted that the State Council of Komi rejected the proposals of several environmental organizations of the region and the local branch of the Communist Party to hold a referendum on environmental issues three times. This, he said, indicates that "the authorities are afraid of democracy, open opinion of people, points of view."
The head of the Komi environmentalists movement, Nina Ananina, recalled how the Electoral Commission and the State Council of the Komi refused to agree on a referendum on environmental issues three times (detachment of the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Komi Republic, ban on the use of old oil pipelines, and ban on mining in the Yugyd Va National Park). According to her, under pressure from the public, two out of three issues were decided in favor of environmentalists. She also mentioned that parliament will be on the bit of any mining company that operates in Komi.
Civil activist Tatyana Ivanova recalled how the Komi head Sergey Gaplikov first gave mother of many children thermos for winning the "Family of the Year" contest, and then explained that this gift would be presented by the New Year. Ivanova invited participants to collect presents for the head of the Komi Republic. Several people, including members of the liquidated nationalist organization "Rubezh severa", put a pot, a kettle and a ladle in a box.
Igor Esev, who lives near the children's clinic, said that they want to cut down part of the grove near his house and build a mansion there. The protests of his neighbors did not lead to anything. Therefore, he asked the rally participants to protect the grove in all possible ways.
"Power is criminal, because it separates people"
Speaking to the crowd, the activist Egor Russky said that he was for the transfer of the Komi capital to Ukhta, but not now, not "when the region cuts corners on children and parents." He believes that referendum on a new capital is an artificially created problem.
An activist from Ukhta called to support the residents of the village of Shudayag. They are against cutting of a pine forest near the hospital for the construction of a new helipad.
The final resolution of the rally included the demand to dismiss the Minister of Education, Science and Youth Policy of Komi Natalia Mikhalchenkova.
In early December, 2017, the oldest environmental organization of the republic, the Committee for the Salvation of Pechora, initiated a week of protest in Komi from December 10 to 17. Civil activists believe that authorities of the republic take part of decisions without taking into account the interests of the residents. The public was indignant at the cancellation of the referendum banning the use of old oil pipelines, as well as attempts to make the Komi language in schools optional.
Maxim Polyakov, photo by the author, «7x7»