Garbage war. Investigation about the biggest landfill in Russia
Residents of cities near Moscow oppose the collection of Moscow garbage, increasing pressure on the Kremlin
MOSCOW – Contemporary Moscow is often seen as a sparkling city of dreams. The Russian capital can rightfully be considered a more efficient, cleaner and better organized city than many Western capitals.
But behind the outer glamor, there is an unpleasant truth: the largest city in Russia is choking on garbage.
According to the government, the city’s 12 million residents produce more than 7 million tons of waste per year – 20 percent of all Russian household waste. Industrial waste increases this share even more, and only a small part of this volume is recycled.
Most of this rubbish ends up in places like Aleksandrov, a picturesque historic town a few hours’ drive from the capital. It is here that one of the dozens of garbage dumps near Moscow is located.
Locals say they watched the illegally shipped rubbish from Moscow form an unsightly mountain on the outskirts of the city over the years..
“I come here and my eyes are watery and my face is swollen,” says 80-year-old Vladimir Saunin, USSR champion in judo, who moved to Aleksandrov with his wife several years ago..
Concerns about the negative impact of the landfill on public health led to the protests in Aleksandrov last December – the largest protests in recent memory. About 5 thousand people took to the city square and demanded the closure of the landfill.
Local anti-landfill activists say they are portrayed as troublemakers, harassed by the police and abused on social media just because they want to breathe clean air in their city..
People are afraid, and it is enough to look at the history of Alexander Shestun to understand why.
Shestun, the former head of the Serpukhov district of the Moscow region, has joined local residents protesting the expansion of another landfill a few kilometers from their homes..
Several weeks later, dozens of masked armed FSB agents came to his home and took him to Moscow’s Lefortovo prison on bribery charges that his family and supporters believed were clearly fabricated..
“This is a signal to other local leaders. Do you want the same thing to happen to you as to Shestun? – stated "Voice of America" his wife Yulia Shestun. “This was done to intimidate, and so far this form of intimidation works.”.
Shestun is expected to stand trial in March.
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