Report on the spot
“Ecology and us” – this was the motto of an almost three-hour-long rally recently held in Kiev. Among its most active participants were different public organizations, societies, well-known literati, scientists and experts. It was authorized by Kiev’s Moskovsky District Soviet of People’s Deputies.
Meeting in Kiev.
Hopefully, all of us realize on the brink of what kind of abyss we are standing today, said writer Volodymyr Yavorivsky. It is good that now we can openly and candidly speak about everything. I think that had the Chornobyl disaster happened four or five years ago, that terrible catastrophe would have been described as the world’s most beautiful accident. Most of us look like a ship full of fools trying to settle their own trifling matters, while there is no one to steer the ship which is bound nowhere. That’s enough! We have heard enough of tales that after the accident our life well-nigh became better. The Ukrainian SSR Public Health Minister Romanenko told lies straight to our face. That is why I want to say from this high public rostrum that I do not have trust in him.
Then writer Yuri Shcherbak took the microphone. He said that the whole truth about Chornobyl is still to be spoken. There should be no secrets in matters of ecology. People should have personal dosimeters and be fully informed about the environmental situation. As far as the USSR Ministry of Nuclear Power Engineering is concerned, it must stop its criminal policy in Ukraine.
Poet Rostyslav Bratun from Lviv told about chemical enterprises which invaded Ukraine’s western regions, and about acid rains in the Carpathians. Poet Volodymyr Boychenko from Mykolayiv shared his concern over the fact that the Southern Bug River is on the brink of a catastrophe – a situation which also resulted from the development of nuclear power engineering.
Snouts of approval from the crowd.
Formerly Ukraine was often referred to as an all-Union granary and, later, stokehold. Now it has become an all-Union reactor: there are 12 reactors in the Republic, and it is planned to build another 27. Do we want to become an all-Union cemetery? The arbitrariness of Union departments has gone beyond all bounds, and the excessive centralism spoils the land where we live and our children grow up.
It should be decided in Ukraine what, how and where to build in Ukraine. And it should be done by all of us, its citizens, and not by somebody else. This is what Oleh Shevehenko from Kiev, Lyudmyla Taranenko from Cherkasy and Yuri Vysochyn, chairman of the “Ecology” Soviety in Cherkasy, spoke about. In particular, the latter dwelt on the really difficult struggle waged by official and public environmental protection societies against departmental organizations concerning the construction of a nuclear power plant in Chyhyryn, Cherkasy Region. Bureaucrats are indifferent to sacred possessions of the people on whose land they are going to put up yet another project posing a danger for the very same people, ignoring all existing rules of civil engineering. In spite of all signatures that are being collected under the demand to stop the construction, and even the picketing of the building site, the nuclear power plant is being built. Yuri Vysochyn pointed out that it is too late to conserve nature in Cherkasy Region – it is necessary to begin saving it as soon as possible.
Dmytro Hrodzinsky, Corresponding Member of the Ukrainian SSR Academy of Sciences, emphasized that at present experts in ecology are needed, who would control the ecological situation in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there are few of them. Besides, it is necessary to look for an alternative to nuclear power engineering. Undoubtedly, there does exist such an alternative. One should only tackle this issue with responsibility.
From time to time shouts of approval were heard from the crowd. The slogans Kievites brought to this rally unequivocally testified to their stand, calling to hold up the construction and take stock of many things: “He who sows grain sows justice”, “Ukraine is a hostage to the Ministry of Nuclear Power Engineering”. True, there were instances of people trying to shout speakers down: the culture of discussion still has to be mastered. It was pointed out at the rally that Ukraine’s present-day power engineering is quite capable of keeping the Republic supplied with energy up to the year 2005. But who needs a power engineering race?
Isn’t it high time to finally consider the “incompetent” view of the public which, by the way, has the same legitimate right as any government agency? Among those who came to the capital of Ukraine were representatives ol other republics – Lithuania, Latvia and Armenia – who told about the ecological situation in their regions, which is also threatening – because of the position taken by the respective ministries.
The speakers were unanimous in one thing – a referendum should be held, i.e. a nationwide survey of public opinion on problems of power engineering, wifh all citizens who have the right to vote participating.
This is a sign of our revival as citizens of our Republic, who are united by a common concern and a common destiny.
Photos by M.Mosenzhnyk
News from Ukraine, 1988, № 48.