In Syktyvkar, a photo exhibition "Shies — where freedom is born" about the fight of eco-activists of the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk Oblast against the construction of a landfill at the Shies station has opened at the republican branch of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. The correspondent of 7x7 has attended it.
The exhibition includes photos of the events at the Shies station in Arkhangelsk Oblast. Visitors of the exhibition have also watched video chronicles of the correspondents of 7x7, 29.RU, Sota.vision, and Deutsche Welle.
“We have an exhibition about the fight at the Shies station, which lasted since 2018. It is currently in such a latency, because there is a reclamation,” said Ksenia Sokolova, the secretary for organizational and political work in the Communist Party of the Komi Republic. “This is going to be a travelling exhibition, because this is a people’s protest. A huge number of cities and villages participated in it. As I was collecting photos, people wanted to have such an exhibition in their cities as well.”
At the opening, eco-activists and journalists, who were the first to write about the construction site at Shies, have recalled how the protest began. Journalist Natalya Beshkareva, who has taken most of the photos at the exhibition, pointed out that ordinary residents, not politicians, had managed to stop the construction. According to Sergei Morokhin, editor-in-chief of the Pravda Komi Newspaper, people realized on their own in 2018 that an environmental threat was looming large over the North, although there were also those who were sure that the landfill would have been built, since it was about big money, "and people are no longer considered there, where the money is."
“On April 2, 2020, we said goodbye to two „garbage governors“, to Orlov and Gaplikov [both Governor of Arkhangelsk Oblast Igor Orlov and Head of the Komi Republic Sergei Gaplikov resigned on the same day]. I do not want to say that it changed the situation in the Komi Republic and Arkhangelsk Oblast radically, but the society was encouraged by that,” said Oleg Mikhailov, a deputy of the State Council of the Komi Republic from the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. “This is one of the examples in Russia in general, when people can achieve their goals by coming together.”
At the exhibition's opening, in addition to memories of past events, people talked about how reclamation was going on at Shies. Guards’ hostel has been dismantled, materials have been taken out, and activists are still recording violations there. Eco-activist Viktor Vishnevetsky believes that the Ecotechnopark Shies Project is definitely closed and cannot be reopened in the near future, and according to Ksenia Sokolova, the organizer of the exhibition, the protest will be completely over when there is a forest again. She added that people doubted that the fight was over because of the recent events, when activists’ posts were destroyed and burned at Shies.
The exhibition will be open in Syktyvkar until May 31. Then it will travel to Usinsk.
You can see a detailed photo report of 7x7's correspondent from the Shies station here.
Protests against the construction of a landfill for the import of waste from Moscow at the Shies station (the border of Arkhangelsk Oblast and the Komi Republic) took more than a year and a half. As a result, the Moscow City Hall has not included Shies in its territorial waste management scheme for the next 10 years. The Government of Arkhangelsk Oblast has excluded the project from the priority projects’ register, and the Technopark Company has promised to reclaim the territory by the summer of 2021.
After that, in January 2021, the opponents of the landfill construction at Shies developed opposing opinions. Activists of the Chistaya Urdoma (‘Clean Urdoma’) Initiative Group declared the protest stopped and decided that there were no more reasons to be on duty there. Other activists insisted on keeping the tent camp at the Shies station until the reclamation of the site was finished.
In early February, the contractor demolished the Leningrad activists' tent camp, which was on the territory intended for the reclamation. Before that, the police visited activists who remained in the camp, demanding that the camp be raised. The contractor suggested that they move the buildings to the forest or to the Banya and Krepost’ posts and monitor the progress of reclamation through webcams.