Thursday, May 22, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Russian Occupation Threatens Crimea’s Fragile Environment, Ecologist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 22 – Occupation authorities rarely take good care of the environment of the territory they have seized, and the Russian Anschluss of Crimea is no exception, with the Russian ecological legislation and practice significantly less good than their Ukrainian counterparts, according to Volodimir Boreyko, head of the Kyiv Ecological-Cultural Center.

                Boreyko’s views on five ways in which the Russian occupation has already harmed the environment of Crimea are presented in a blogpost today by Oleg Kozyrev, who has attracted widespread attention for commentaries on social networks and his frequent video posts (

            First of all, Crimea is an important flyway for migratory birds. Ukrainian legislation has prohibited springtime hunting since 2004, but Russian law permits it.  That has sparked “serious concerns,” Kozyrev says, that many birds will be killed with untold consequences not only for Crimea but for their entire areal.

            Second, Ukraine since 2006 has prohibited the use of wild animals for photo shoots. But Russian law doesn’t, and “according to local ecological activists in Crimea,” Russians are already engaged in exactly the kind of activities in this regard that Ukrainian law has regulated and banned.

            Third, as Kozyrev puts it, all the plants and animals under threat which were registered and thus protected by the Red Book of Ukraine are now under threat because they have not been included in the Red Book of Russia, and “it is unknown whether they will be included” at any point.

            Fourth, Ukrainian law bans tourism in nature reserves and hunting in national parks, but not only are both permitted under Russian legislation but a recently approved Russian law allows for the construction of housing and other infrastructure in these places, thus threatening the environment reserves and parks were created to protect for future generations.

            And fifth, Ukraine is “an active participant in many international nature protection accords,” whereas Russia “still has no plans to join these conventions” or abide by their provisions. It would be a good thing if Russia would change its law to bring it up to Ukrainian standards; it would be an even better thing if the Russian occupation of Crimea were to end.

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