About 100 Kharkivites blocked the traffic along Oleksandrivsky avenue, in Kharkiv Tractor Plant’s industrial area on August 6. The people were protesting against chopping down local Bohdan Khmelnitsky park where the land owner decided to build a house.
The residents became indignant as this park used to be the only green zone in the polluted area where the tractor plant and other ones are located. The activists including old men and women were carrying the posters “No building in the park zone.”
According to the activists, 10 hectares of land between the park and public transport used to be a green alley leading to the playground. Unfortunately, the plot was not formally registered as a recreation zone, and in December 2015 it was sold to a private owner.
On July 27, 2017, the activists organized a mass meeting and wrote a collective appeal to the city council. Four hundred locals signed it. They required that the authorities brought this plot back into a communal property to arrange a park there. The citizens sent another request to the prosecutor’s office.
However, the authorities did not respond to the collective request and acted as if people were invisible. “On July 28, despite people’s protests, the city council agreed on town planning documentation for erecting a building and gave these documents to the developer on August 1,” the city council deputy Ihor Cherniak states. On August 3, the logging started on the site, and five trees were chopped down.
Therefore the outraged residents got down to active and extreme protests. In the afternoon of August 6, the people went out on the road and blocked the traffic for a half hour to attract the city’s attention to their problem. After that, they went to the fence which enclosed the site and dismantled a part of the construction.
“We were shocked when saw our beloved public garden ruined!” says Yulia, one of the picket participants. “And this is the last green area near our homes! How are we supposed to breathe if it disappears?”
After lengthy negotiations, the landlord promised people to suspend the work on the site till the final legal decision is taken.
“When people demonstrate their will and activity, the authorities start to solve problems,” says another activist Dmytro Bulakh.
Today the initiative group is meeting with the city administration to discuss the issue. The mayor’s office representatives promise to respond to the situation.
Text: Olena Sokolynska
Photo: Dmytro Bulakh