Despite the media coverage and discussions within the specially created working group at the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine1, on April 5, the Armed Forces of Ukraine conducted training in the fully reserved area of the Black Sea Biosphere Reserve. This is despite of the fact that any stay on the territory of the reserved area of unauthorized persons, any activity and even flights over the territory below 2000 meters are prohibited.
In spite of this, there were explosions of new and experimental samples of heavy weapons on the territory of the wildest and remotest tract “White Kuchuhury”. The management of the reserve as well as the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, in the system in which the reserve operates, were resolutely opposed to the conduct of the training (the letter is attached). The conduct of the training was not approved2. The training took place at the beginning of the nesting period of birds, which for 91 years of existence of the reserve had not been exposed to such large-scale factors of disturbance.
Apart from the fact that damage to the territory of the reserve results in the accrual of losses inflicted to the state, it also entails liability in accordance with Article 252 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The staff of the reserve found the locations of bombardments and drafted the act of detected damage, which allows to estimate damage to the soil, flora and fauna. In addition, the premises of the field research center of the reserve were destroyed.
This activity is also a violation of other legislative norms besides environmental ones. After all, the right to permanent use of the land plots of the reserve belongs to the administration of the biosphere reserve. The detrimental activity of state bodies here is considered to be the grabbing of the territory, the inappropriate use of the land, and, most importantly, it is carried out for budgetary funds, and therefore has signs of corruption.
The total amount of damage calculated by the state protection service of the reserve is UAH 12 693 257.48 (this amount does not include costs of unauthorized use of the land plot, as well as the costs of training, which in this case is inappropriate use of budgetary funds).
The next shelling of the reserve territory is scheduled for April 18-20, 2018. Despite public appeals from the reserve staff, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and the meeting of the working group, there is still no public position of the Ministry of Environment of Ukraine, no appeal of the Ministry of Environment to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and NATO.
Oleksiy Vasyliuk, EPL environmental scientist
(032) 255 76 82