Today the initiators of a series of clamorous investigations on the biggest recreation area near Kharkiv presented the closing results of their public project “Pechenihy: the Stolen Shore.”
For nine months – from January till October 2017 – the activists were digging for information about the ownership of the plots of scenic forestry land at the banks of Pechenihy water-storage reservoir at 50 kilometers from Kharkiv and the schemas of gripping the land.
Over 20 investigations were carried out, and 17 reports with facts, figures and names were published on the project website.
Revealing the wealthy people, oligarchs, rogue public servants and politicians like Michailo Dobkin, Yuriy Sapronov, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, Vitaliy Volkovsky and Stanislav Denisiuk was followed by the chronological record on acquiring the plots which previously belonged to the state, the villages communities or the former Soviet health resorts.
Despite the fact that the buying schemes were initially illegal, they were formalized later within the legal regulations, and therefore they are difficult to be disputed currently, the activists explain. The term of submitting lawsuit on a violation is three years, and it has been expired in most cases, says the project lawyer Volodymyr Rysenko. However, on the grounds of the found violations, the activists brought two claims to the prosecutor office, and other lawsuits are to follow they say.
The main problem the activists faced was a difficulty to find the documents registering the forestry parts of the Kharkiv region. The maps appeared to be old and contradictory which allowed numerous frauds in the most valuable and appealing places of the Kharkiv region.
Today, the activists say, the determined action of law enforcement structures is needed to fight for justice and to bring back the land to the local communities. “However the state institutions are still sluggish and do not work to the full even after having all the information about frauds collected thoroughly,” Volodymyr Rysenko notes.
“One of the important results of our work is that we have discovered where more transparency needs to be introduced,” says Nataliya Shylo, the project coordinator. “For example, the forest land maps with the plots inventory numbers must be published. Also, the land rent contracts should be open to the public.”
Also, the activists are sharing their experience on how to do the investigation on land plots acquisition: the detailed pattern of actions is presented on the project website.
The presentation was broadcasted live, and it was watched by about a thousand viewers.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Olena Sokolynska, Nakipelo, “Pechenihy: the Stolen Shore”