Close not import: landfills gather stadiums of protesters, deprive of liberty and property 

Close not import: landfills gather stadiums of protesters, deprive of liberty and property
Moscow is trying to solve the problem of landfills with money and neighbors Photo: The CrimeRussia

The story of the Moscow garbage dumps resembles a smoking dump itself – it constantly smolders, stinks, but never goes out. Not so long ago the topic flared up with a new force: the deputy, who openly spoke out against the landfills, had his car burnt, and on October 18 it became known about the construction of the Shies landfill near Arkhangelsk, which would kindly accept the garbage of Muscovites for 20 years. But for the money. The CrimeRussia tries to find out how the garbage topic affects the lives of not only “civilians,” but also the organizers of anti-garbage protests.

Recalling what is happening with garbage landfills

Throughout 2018, in the Moscow region, one after another, protests broke out against the construction of new landfills, against spontaneous waste deposits, as well as against incineration plants, which adversely affect the health of local people and the environment. 

According to the International Academy of Environmental Reconstruction, today in the Moscow region there are 92 polygons with a total area of 772 hectares.

In 2017, during a direct line with Vladimir Putin, local residents complained about the stench from the Kuchino landfill in Balashikha, and a week later the landfill was closed by personal order of the president. Encouraged by this relatively successful history (it did not solve the ecological and social problem - local people continue to complain about the unpleasant smell to this day) residents of other districts of the Moscow region, near which landfills are located, are fighting as much as they can. They sign petitions, unite into thematic communities and discuss possible solutions to the problem in social networks, file lawsuits on the landfills (for example, in May of this year, the residents of Volokolamsk filed lawsuits for moral harm compensation for the total sum of 5.5 mln rubles ($83,500) to the owners of the Yadrovo landfill). But this "anti-garbage" campaign is led not only from home.

This spring was rich in "waste-related" events and protests. In Kolomna, locals kept garbage trucks, which were in a hurry to “relieve themselves” at the Volovichi solid waste landfill, blocked for several days. According to the locals, during the protest, people did not let about 20 loaded wagons to the landfill. In Voskresensky district, residents of the village of Svistyagino also blocked the road to the incineration plant under construction (by 2022, it is also planned to build waste incineration power plants in the Solnechnogorsk, Noginsk and Naro-Fominsk districts of the Moscow region). In Tarusa, local residents smashed the plant’s castle with a hammer, trying to stop the work of a new waste recycling plant, due to which it was impossible to breathe on the territory, even going hundreds of meters away. By the way, the head of Tarusa was among the protesters. According to him, the authorities are powerless to do anything, since the land where the fetid factory is located belongs to a private trader.

And, of course, the kicker is a large release of landfill gas at the Yadrovo landfill site in March of this year, because of which local residents suffered. Among the poisoned there were children (for a couple of days about 150 people went to the hospital complaining of poor health).


Yadrovo solid waste landfill. Photo: Dmitry Serebryakov, TASS

According to the members of the initiative group on solving the problems of the Volokolamsk “dump,” the main problem is that most of the garbage is brought into the landfill illegally. Environmentalists are sure that they place hazardous waste there, which needs to be disposed of not on ordinary landfills, but on special landfills – and this, in turn, may entail not only emissions of harmful gases, but also more serious emergencies, up to ecological disaster.

However, after checking and a number of examinations, the ICR declared that the very emission of gas in Yadrovo could not harm the health of local residents: they say, the experts did not find in blood and urine of those, who came to the hospital, any toxic gaseous substances – neither hydrogen sulfide, nor propane, nor methane.  

It turns out that in the given task there are dozens of schoolchildren who abruptly felt bad, and in the solution of the task - the same students who could not feel bad in given conditions.

“Thus, based on the conclusion of chemical forensic examinations and the conclusion of forensic experts, harm was not caused to the health of those minors who sought medical care,” the ICR website says.


Photo: Vladislav Shatilo, RBC

Mere mortals try to solve the problem of landfills with rallies. Reaction of the authorities

Following medical appeals, a new wave of rallies broke out demanding to close the Yadrovo landfill: for example, in May of this year, from 1.5 to 2 thousand people took part in the protest. A little earlier, on April 14, anti-garbage protests broke out in several places in the Moscow region at the same time – Serpukhov, Volokolamsk, Sergiyev Posad, Krasnoarmeisk and Shatura gathered several thousand protesters (in Serpukhov district alone, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, there were about 1,500 participants).


According to the deputy and the ardent organizer of the anti-garbage rallies, Nikolay Dizhur, many more people would have come to the rallies if it was not for the opposition from the authorities. Local authorities put sticks in the wheels any which way they can: they organize entertainment during the days of rallies (for example, concerts of popular pop stars, which potentially attract most of the residents), and state employees are threatened with dismissal from work. There is also a natural fear for their own safety: the Internet is full of examples of how police detains those protesting against garbage dumps in various districts of the Moscow region.

Video: Dispersal of protesters against a landfill in Moscow Region Schelkanovo

However, protest initiators get the worst.

Fighting against activists and organizers of anti-garbage rallies

There are cases when law enforcers attacked organizers of rallies against garbage dumps: for example, the organizer of the rally in Yadrovo, Artyom Lyubimov, was detained and imprisoned for 15 days "for resisting police officers", and later there was a search in his apartment and he was accused of hiding American citizenship. A criminal case under Article 330. 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (failure to fulfill the obligation to file a notification of the presence of a foreign state citizenship) was initiated against him. At the same time, Lyubimov himself claims that he is not a US citizen, and that the FSB officers falsified a certificate from the embassy, on the basis of which a criminal case was initiated.

Another activist, Andrey Zhdanov, a participant in the rally in Volokolamsk, received 14 days of administrative arrest for "actions that caused interference with the functioning of life-support facilities, transport or social infrastructure."

They also act out on businesses: for example, in April, Ramazan Bayramov, an activist of “anti-garbage” protests, was raided with searches right at his place of work. Bayramov owns a car wash in Volokolamsk, and it was there that the officers of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Migration Service of the MIA, as well as employees of the Department for Combating Economic Crimes (OBEP), came with a check. During the search and verification all documents and Bayramov's computer were seized, and together with them the working for Bayramov citizen of Uzbekistan (he was taken away for identification and to check the legitimacy of his stay in the Russian Federation).

But the most "fresh" was the case that happened to the deputy and "anti-garbage" activist Aleksey Mardasov.

Deputy from Sergiev Posad Aleksey Mardasov had his car burned for fighting against the landfills

On the night of October 14, unknown persons set fire to the car of Andrey Mardasov, a deputy and a public figure who fought against the sensational garbage dumps in Sergiev Posad.


Aleksey Mardasov

The arson was noticed at the initial stage, but literally 1.5 minutes after the setting on fire, the whole car was in flames. As a result, the fire was extinguished by the arrived firefighters, but they failed to save the car. The owner of the car, deputy Andrey Mardasov, was poisoned when with the smoke from the fire and went to the hospital, where he was given the necessary medical care and several hours later he was allowed to go home.

Video: Courageous journalist and honest deputy's car burned!

Mardasov himself, same as his acquaintances, is sure: the car was set on fire because of his deputy career and social activities – the position of the deputy on many pressing issues was too open and “inconvenient.” Repeatedly speaking against the creation of landfills (in particular, against the landfill near the village of Sakharovo, Sergievo-Posadsky municipal district), Mardasov openly expressed dissatisfaction with the plans of the Moscow region government, organized single pickets and strongly encouraged people to participate in rallies against the "garbage policy." Mardasov’s position is as simple as possible and close to “people's”: for example, in the comments section under one of the photos on Mardasov’s personal page on the social network VKontakte, he explained his attitude to the landfills, answering the question “where shall we pit the garbage then”: “... where do they put it in Europe? Sort, recycle, burn residues. All on modern equipment. And there will be no problems. Instead of plundering the allocated money, creating garbage mountains and poisoning people."  


Aleksey Mardasov at a rally against the landfill in Sergiev Posad

Mardasov claims that he is not a man of conflict and no one had any reason to take revenge on him for any personal reasons, therefore the direct link between arson and the anti-garbage campaign is obvious: "We fought, continue to fight and will fight against the landfill site, there are very serious people," said Mardasov in his commentary to TVR 24.

The very next day after the arson, a criminal case was initiated under Part 2 of Art. 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (intentional destruction or damage to property). The police are looking for those guilty of arson.

What happens if you close the landfills in the suburbs

In the spring of 2018, about 10 thousand residents of Volokolamsk wrote to Putin with a request to close Yadrovo, which, in their opinion, is deadly for the residents of the city. Residents of Sergiyev Posad are trying to fight with similar methods, and with them the victim of unknown arsonists, deputy Andrey Mardasov. So, in the deputy’s personal blog on YouTube, among other “anti-garbage” protest videos, there are shots of the residents of Sergiev Posad wrote an inscription to the administration of the city with letters to Putin – to some extent a sweet, but hardly effective, act.

According to the Moscow Region Governor Andrey Vorobyov, in 2018, 24 garbage dumps were closed in the Moscow region - he told about this on the TV channel 360. Vorobiev also noted that specialists from Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are attracted to solving the problem of waste disposal. At the same time, from January 1, 2019, new laws on the collection and recycling of waste come into force in the Moscow region.

“In fact, we are the first in the country to launch a new waste recycling industry,” said Vorobyev.

Russian realities show that solving a problem by closing a specific landfill does not work: people do not stop producing waste, the garbage stream does not go anywhere, therefore, if it is forbidden to take the garbage to place X, it will simply be taken out to place Y – as it happened to Odintsovo.


The other day an alternative to take the trash a little further appeared.

"Here you are, God, take what we do not need." Moscow is trying to shove garbage to Arkhangelsk. It seems, Arkhangelsk does not mind

Moscow is trying to solve the problem of landfills with the help of money and neighbors – with the involvement of other regions of Russia. For example, on October 18, a project was presented to the government of the Arkhangelsk region, according to which the rubbish from the Moscow region will be taken to the territory near Arkhangelsk. According to RBC, an eco cluster named Shies will be designed to receive 500 thousand tons of garbage (or about 6% of the total municipal solid waste generated in the city) annually for 20 years. In exchange, the Arkhangelsk region will receive not only rubbish from Muscovites, but also 10.5 billion rubles ($160 mln) (most of this money will come from the Moscow budget), as well as about 500 jobs with an average salary of 44,000 rubles ($670). It is planned that in six years the garbage park will bring 912.1 million rubles ($13.9 mln) to the budget of the Arkhangelsk region with the tax on personal income, payments and transfers to the funds and land tax.

“The decision to remove garbage outside the region is dictated by the fact that infrastructure is not ready in the Moscow Region. Existing landfills are filled to capacity, and more and more rubbish is created, including garbage from construction. Therefore, such temporary measures are being taken,” said Anton Khlynov, chairman of the Commission for Sustainable Development and Environmental Safety in the Moscow Region of the Moscow region branch of the Russian Geographical Society.

The project presentation said that about 300 hectares of territory will be allocated for its implementation. According to Novaya Gazeta, deforestation is already under way for the municipal solid waste (MSW) landfill in the Shies district.

The creators of the project claim that it will be implemented with maximum guarantees that there is no harm to the environment and only after an environmental impact assessment. However, according to Kommersant, at the end of this month, protest rallies have already been scheduled in Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk and in the village of Yarensk – not far from the future cluster Shies.

Those who are against are stupid and not patriots

Igor Orlov, Governor of the Arkhangelsk region, has already told RBC how he will fight with the protesters: he intends to present the project in the public and tell “what exactly it is about.”

Igor Orlov

Igor Orlov, Governor of the Arkhangelsk region

According to Orlov, the project is opposed by “people who do not fully understand this issue, on the one hand, and political speculators, on the other.” The governor also said that "we will explain to intelligent people, patriots of the Arkhangelsk region, and they will support the creation of such an important, promising project for the region." And to those, “who make primitive political dividends on this,” the regional authorities “do not even try to explain,” the governor added. 

“We build factories and create jobs, and they are working out the money of their customers,” Orlov explained.

The head of the region did not rule out that MSW will be brought to the territory of the environmental technology park from other regions as well, if appropriate proposals are received.



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