In the town of Pechora, activist Konstantin Polunin held a picket against the use of refuse incineration installations (thermal destructors) in the Komi Republic. Police officers attended the rally, took the man's explanation and asked who was financing the protest and what its purpose was. Polunin told 7x7 about this.
The activist held a picket with a poster "Thermal destructors against the whole creation" on January 18. Police officers approached him and asked if he had permission to hold the rally. Konstantin Polunin reminded them that a one-person picket did not need to be coordinated, and they left, wishing him not to be cold (the temperature outside was −30°C).
Later, a district police officer came to the square and took a video of the picketer. According to Polunin, the police officer took his explanation and said that it was the first time he heard about plans to install thermal destructors in the Komi Republic. He left the activist alone without drawing up a report against him.
Polunin said that the police had asked who had been financing and organizing protests against refuse incineration installations.
“I said that no one was heading that, and that was me who voluntarily decided to express their opinion in accordance with the Constitution. I also replied that no one was financing the actions — this was a popular initiative, having added that the Komi Republic was not for sale.”
Pickets against the installation of thermal destructors in the Komi Republic began in December 2020. Earlier, the police did not pay attention to the actions. Polunin was the first person whose explanation police officers took.
He believes the reason is that Pechora is a small town and public actions attract more attention of law enforcement officers there.
Plans to introduce refuse incineration technologies in the republic in 2021 were announced in November 2020. In December, people began holding pickets against their use. Opponents of the initiative have also collected almost 2 thousand signatures against the installation of thermal destructors and created a petition demanding that waste incineration in the region be prohibited by law. As of January 19, 804 people have signed it.
The activists have sent the collected signatures to the Komi Ministry of Natural Resources, but the officials ignored their appeal. Oleg Mikhailov, the deputy of the Komi State Council from the Communist Party, appealed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Prosecutor's Office after that. Social activists have developed opposing opinions about the need to use thermal destructors. Some called it a "dangerous and evil experiment", while others stated that those installations produced a minimum of polluting emissions and would enable waste utilization in hard-to-reach areas.