Eco-front line outside of Moscow: ‘garbage riot’ grows stronger, trash and problems keep piling up 

Eco-front line outside of Moscow: ‘garbage riot’ grows stronger, trash and problems keep piling up
How many garbage processing plants can be built on the money spent on Andrey Vorobyov's PR? Photo: The CrimeRussia

Yet another emission of landfill gas occurred at the Yadrovo landfill, Volokolamsky district on March 29. The registered hydrogen sulfide concentration was 12 times the threshold limit value, according to Volokolamsky district acting head Andrey Vikharev. About four dozen children had been hospitalized due to not feeling well, nausea and getting sick due to another hydrogen sulfide emission in the Volokolamsky district on March 21. 

On March 25, it was discovered Yadrovo hydrogen sulfide concentration was 7 times the threshold limit value. A state of emergency was declared in the Volokolamsky district due to Yadrovo emissions. The ICR and prosecutors have launched an investigation; Volokolamsky district head Evgeny Gavrilov has been dismissed; Moscow region governor Andrey Vorobyov got pelted with snowballs by outraged local residents. People want Gavrilov investigated for negligent infliction of personal injury.

Video: Local residents attack the head of Volokolamsk district

‘Garbage rebels’ face administrative prosecution

On March 25, Kolomensky district residents took to the streets to protest a similar incident. They want the Volovichi landfill, Pervomaysky village closed. The protestors blocked off the road and would not let garbage trucks pass. It is worth mentioning that some of the trucks had been re-routed there from the Town of Volokolamsk. On March 27, town head Denis Lebedev visited the protesters and promised to work out the problem. He ordered a halt to garbage disposal at the landfill and promised local residents to relocate the landfill. However, the OMON special police units began arresting protesters on the fourth day. 20 people have been charged with violation of article 20.2, part 5 (participating in an unauthorized public rally) of the Administrative Offences Code.  

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Rallies in Kolomna Photo by Novaya Gazeta
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Video: Riot policemen detain activists at rally against landfill in Kolomna

Novoshchapovo village, Klinsky district residents have also been rallying against the Aleksinsky landfill. It is worth mentioning that Aleksinsky had actually been closed, but only on paper. Residents of the Mars and Morevo villages, Ruzsky district, and Tuchkovo village, Ruzsky town district blocked off road and would not let garbage truck pass.

Residents of Tarusa, Moscow region, are protesting against a waste processing plant that had been commissioned there in February 2018. They say it stinks of garbage hundreds of meters away from the plant even when it is negative 10 degrees Celsius outside. Local residents smashed a lock on the plant gates with a hammer. 

Residents of the Svistyagino village, Voskresensky district, blocked off the road to a waste incineration plant that is being built there. They say the construction is illegal. Residents of the Mogutovo village outside of Naro-Fominsk protested construction of a waste incineration plant. The police arrested 9 activists, but later released them without pressing charges against them.

On March 30, it became known that the residents of the Dmitrovsky district, Moscow region, blocked the road leading to the Nepeyno landfill site. Local residents demanded to stop the delivery of garbage into the landfill. “About 100-150 people stood in the middle of the road at the entrance to the site. Information about the upcoming rally was known for two days, therefore, Ekozhilkom got scared, and redirected its trucks to other regions, such as Klin and Dubna,” activist Ivan Nikolaev told RBC


Lane closure to the Nepeyno landfill site

“We planned to block the road with cars, but as early as 6:45 Moscow time, there were police officers and the Ministry of Emergency Situations on the site; they demanded that we move cars to the curb. So people blocked the entrance to the landfill with their own bodies,” the participant of the rally, coordinator of the Russian Carriers Association Svetlana Tokareva said.  According to her, the police announced  that the rally was unauthorized, but there were no detentions.

‘Garbage figures’: Resources has been depleted

More than 11 million tons of garbage is buried in the Moscow region annually. In the Moscow region, the law forbidding collecting garbage from one administrative unit in another is being blatantly violated. Waste disposal is one of the major problems for Moscow, where the amount of garbage produced per person is three times the number for other Russian cities and towns. Experts estimated that the amount of garbage in Moscow increases by 2.5% every year. It is simply taken away from the city and buried next to ground waters. Waste disposal capacities have been depleted. 

There are 41 official landfills outside of Moscow. 25 of them are in operation; 3 are being built; about 15 are being revegetated. It is worth mentioning that with mere 3 hectares of land, Yadrovo is one of the smallest landfills. Compare it to a landfill in the Town of Shcherbinka that occupies 59 hectares. On average, a landfill occupies 20-25 hectares. However, there are thousands of illegal landfills. It is often the case that landfills are declared closed, yet in practice they remain in operation, either sorting or illegally collecting garbage, since people make money off of it. Illegal garbage collection brings in upwards of 700 ($12) rubles per ton. This illegal business brings in millions of rubles.


Entrance to Yadrovo

In late 2017, Moscow region authorities announced plans for revegetation of all Moscow region landfills by 2026.

“We are going to revegetate all landfills in 8 years. The capacity of landfills remaining in operation in the Moscow region amounts to 2.7 million tons a year. Meanwhile, about 11.7 tons of household garbage is buried in the Moscow region annually (7.9 tons of garbage come from Moscow). These landfills are being redesigned to increase their capacity over 1.5-2 years. We are going to build a new modern infrastructure over this period. All these landfills will get closed and revegetated as soon as it (infrastructure) starts being built,” Moscow Region Natural Resources and Environment minister Aleksandr Kogan explained during the Moscow Region Ecology forum.  

It is as easy as a pie to build a plant outside of Moscow? 

Now, let us do some fancy math. It costs about 4 billion rubles ($69.76 million) to build a German-style zero-emission waste processing plant, while a “regular economy-class” one costs about 1.5 billion rubles ($26.16 million). It takes about 10-15 plants to work out the “garbage problem” in the Moscow region. One plant processes an amount of garbage equal to processing capacity of 2-3 landfills. This means some 40-60 billion rubles ($697.6 million - 1.04 billion) for high-tech plants and 10-15 billion rubles ($174 - 261.6 million) for cheaper ones. 


Governor Vorobyov’s PR campaign eats away at billions of rubles of public money

Almost every Moscow region district got its own ice stadium when former governor Boris Gromov was still in office. One such stadium costs about 500 million rubles ($8.7 million) to build. Current governor Andrey Vorobyov is going to add at least another 30 ice stadiums to the existing 40 despite the latter not being used very much. 30 ice stadiums mean 15 billion rubles ($261.6 million), or 10 ‘economy-class’ waste processing plants.

But there is more. In 2015, All-Russia People's Front caught Vorobyov pumping more than 2.5 billion rubles ($43.6 million) annually from the Moscow region budget into PR campaigns for Moscow region government. The 5 years he has been in office means 12.5 billion rubles ($218 million), or 8 plants! 


The ‘toxic’ governor Vorobyov continues digging his own grave. He has proposed to amend the Russian law and drop the need to examine whether a given land has some historic or cultural value prior to building houses, roads, and gas pipelines on it. He cited two reasons for this: one is corrupt, another rhetorical. First, he said “it is necessary to ease social tension and administrative obstructionism for small business investors and builders”. Then, he added that “it is necessary to respects the rights of Russian citizens, including pensioners, handicapped people, and families with multiple children. “It seems Andrey Yurievich could not care less about garbage scandals in Volokolamsk, Klin, and Balashikha, as well as problems with Samolet-Development, so he is now going to cause a public outcry with his initiative to ruin Russia’s cultural and historical heritage”, Voskresensk utility services company employee Dmitry Nikonov said. 

Tenders are won by rookies

From 2012 to 2014, the Moscow City Hall held 9 tenders for 15-year contracts worth more than 145 billion rubles ($2.58 billion), according to available reports. Khartiya, a company founded in 2012 with a 10,000-ruble ($174) authorized capital, won the two largest tenders worth 42.6 billion rubles ($742.9 million) in 2015. 

Extract from unified register



Prosecutor General’s son Igor Chaika owns 60% of the company 

MKM-Logistika was paid 40 billion rubles ($696.86 million) in 2015. It is owned by three offshore companies. Two of them are registered in Cyprus, another – at British Virgin Islands. Ecolayn won two tenders collectively worth 25.6 billion rubles ($446 million). Spetstrans got another 12.4 billion rubles ($216 million). All these companies are rookies in the ‘garbage world’. Yet, they are business savvies, hence the focus on profit with no regard for the law and consequences. This led to regular people being victims of greedy garbage businesspeople.   

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Volokolamsk residents held a rally in front of the Town Administration on March 29. They demanded a state of emergency be declared due to Yadrovo. Andrey Vikharev and town Volokolamsk Mayor Petr Lazarev eventually talked to them, announcing the Committee for Emergencies had decided to declare a state of emergency in the Volokolamsk. However, the following day EMERCOM Main Directorate in Moscow Region head Sergey Poletykin said there were no reasons to declare a state of emergency in Volokolamsk due to Yadrovo. EMERCOM began handing out personal protective equipment (respirators and facemasks) to Volokolamsk residents the day after that.



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