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  2. Russian opposition politicians met with activists at Shies in the framework of the Free People Forum

Russian opposition politicians met with activists at Shies in the framework of the Free People Forum

Dmitry Stepanovsky
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The Free People Forum is held in Arkhangelsk Oblast near station Shies from 14 to 15 December. The event was attended by opposition politician Andrei Pivovarov, libertarian Mikhail Svetov, human rights activist Marina Litvinovich and founder of the public page "Police Ombudsman" Vladimir Vorontsov. At night, they were joined by the former mayor of Yekaterinburg Yevgeny Roizman. They met with eco-activists and discussed how the protest at Shies developed and what should be done next, the correspondent of 7x7 reported from the scene.

Andrei Pivovarov told 7x7 that it was decided to hold the forum "in the freest place in this country." He called the Shies protest the advance guard of the fight for civil rights and the activists — the «ideal civil society»:

— There were two messages: the first was to understand how representatives of civil society, politicians, and public figures can help solve the problem. They have been standing for a year, it is a lot of work, and we might give them an additional push, we might be useful somehow. The second was how to make sure that people in different regions are not afraid to fight for their rights and, most importantly, win.


Activists told the guests that, in their opinion, the Russian Railways Company had unfairly canceled the train stop at station Shies in June. Activists are currently forced to travel and bring products using the gas pipeline and forest road. At the same time, an exception was made for police officers and employees of the Security Guarantor Company: trains with the food for them stop at station Shies. Nevertheless, the station was technical before the construction of the landfill. All trains were allowed to stop only after the beginning of the construction at Shies. Human rights activist Marina Litvinovich suggested starting a campaign to open a stop at station Shies.

Yevgeny Roizman advised activists to become deputies despite the fact that environmental parties had never gained more than 1% of votes in the elections in Russia.

The participants of the forum decided to help the activists in the media: to talk about the protest at Shies, to help fill complaints and lawsuits. According to Andrei Pivovarov, the civil protest should rise further. He also noted that activists should become municipal and regional deputies, because "they have proved their right to speak on behalf of the people."

Archangelsk eco-activist, lawyer Oksana Vladyka said that meetings in such a format had never taken place at Shies:

- People are very aware of what is happening in the country. They see all the problems, and they offer specific solutions and specific assistance. Such people do not often come from the capitals, because people from the capital have a slightly different view [of the problems] compared to those who live in the province.

Oksana Vladyka added that Shies activists considered the garbage problem in Russia as a whole therefore they had asked participants of the forum not only to support them informationally, but to support Shies-2, the protest camp against the incineration plant in Tatarstan, as well.

The previous Free People Forum was held in Yekaterinburg on September 21, the topic was "From Activism to Great Victories". According to the organizers, the goal of the forum is to unite civil society activists, create platforms for discussion and exchange of experience, think about new ideas and initiatives, talk about civil society.

The landfill at station Shies in Arkhangelsk Oblast began to be built in July 2018 100 km away from Syktyvkar. It is planned to import waste from Moscow and Moscow Oblast to the landfill. Residents of Komi and Arkhangelsk Oblast united against the construction. Activists regularly hold rallies and meetings. They organized termless protests («bessrochka», or actions in the central squares, at which activists demand stopping the works at Shies) in 24 settlements.


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