The Criminal Pillaging of Natural Resources must stop

Open Appeal over the murder of environmental activist Olexei Goncharov

from the Fourth Forum of Ukrainian human rights organizations 

To   The Prosecutor General O. Medvedko

  The Minister of Internal Affairs Y. Lutsenko

  The Head of the Security Service, V. Nalyvaichenko

  The Secretary of the National Defence and Security Council R. Bohatyryova


The Head of the Verkhovna Rada Enquiry Commission into the circumstances around violations of the Constitution and Ukrainian legislation and taking of unlawful decisions by officials of the Kyiv City Council and its executive body, K. Kulikov

We members of Ukrainian human rights organizations are shocked by the unprecedented murder on 26 May 2009 of Olexei Goncharov and the assault on his wife.

  We are aware that Alexei Goncharov had long and consistently spoken out against the destruction of the landscape reserve “Zhukiv Island”, against unlawful building work on its territory and the extraction of sand from reserve land. Unfortunately, repeated appeals from Mr Goncharov to the regulatory and law enforcement agencies demanding that the unlawful activities be stopped were to no avail. It was only after Mr Goncharov publicized information about crimes against the environment on a national television channel that the police finally managed to intervene and stop the illegal activities, although similar infringements are being committed next to the Island.

   Over recent years shadow business dealings in land and its riches around Konche Zaspa and the reserve Zhukiv Island have become rampant, fuelled by the entrenched corruption of all bodies of power involved. We are forced to acknowledge that the criminal pillaging of natural resources has become a nationwide phenomenon from the outlaw wood felling in the Carpathian Mountains and illegal extraction of gravel from Carpathian streams and the Dniester to the destruction of recreation zones in the capital and illegal coal mining in the Donbas region. However it is with the case here that over many years a sense of impunity has prompted the organizers of criminal business dealings to be particularly brazen in overstepping the law, and resorting to a demonstrative act of murder.

  The participants in the Fourth Forum of Ukrainian human rights organizations demand that the leaders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs carry out an efficient, thorough and objective investigation into the murder of Olexei Goncharov and assault on his wife.

  We call on the heads of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and SBU [Security Service] to carry out an investigation into the plundering of Kyiv’s most precious natural territory – Zhukiv Island, the unlawful extraction of the earth’s riches, deposition and construction work on reserve lands, as well as into the links between environmental violations and decisions of the authorities bearing the hallmarks of corruption.

We believe that a special control and analysis commission should be created under the National Defence and Security Council to assess the actions and inaction of the State bodies of management and self-government which are posing a threat to national security in the areas of environmental policy, use of nature and issues regarding reserve lands.


Adopted in Kyiv on 31 May 2009

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