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  2. "I am done bearing it and being afraid." In Syktyvkar, an activist spoke out against oil spills caused by LUKOIL

"I am done bearing it and being afraid." In Syktyvkar, an activist spoke out against oil spills caused by LUKOIL

Ivan Zhuravkov
The Kolva village
Photo by Maxim Polyakov

In Syktyvkar, in the evening of May 19, activist Elena Gulina held a one-person picket against oil spills in the Komi Republic. She did this because of an accident at LUKOIL-Komi’s oil field, when at least 9 tons of petroleum products leaked into the Kolva river. Vladimir Uyba, the head of the republic, has imposed a regime of emergency in three districts of the region. Environmentalists claim that the authorities failed to stop the spread of oil. The activist told 7x7 about it.

Elena Gulina came to the Theater Square of Syktyvkar with a poster saying, "LUKOIL is a pest. Major oil spills are killing our nature and us." She told 7x7 that she had held the action, among other things, because she was "done bearing it and being afraid".

"I want to live in a state governed by the rule of law. I want my children and grandchildren to live in a clean, healthy country. I want businessmen not only to make money by pumping oil. I want a lot of things. Someone hardly comes to a square to express his dissatisfaction with the authorities and immediately gets arrested and fined. And we have an environmental disaster, but no one cares. Where are all those responsible: the Ministry of Natural Resources, Russian Federal State Agency for Health and Consumer Rights, and other agencies? I am ashamed of my country. We are robbed — we keep silent, we are killed — we keep silent. I am done with it," the activist said.

Gulina's rally was at least the third one after the oil leaked into the Kolva river. In addition to her, two other local residents, including editor of the Izhma District's newspaper Andrei Istomin, held one-person pickets.

Deputy of the State Council of Komi and member of the Save Pechora Committee Eco-Movement Nikolai Bratenkov told 7x7 that the journalist told him about the visit of a police officer after the rally. The press relations service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Directorate for Komi told 7x7 that the police officer had not initiated a case against Istomin and had only taken an explanation from him.

It became known about an oil spill at LUKOIL-Komi’s oil field on the border with the Nenets Autonomous Okrug on May 11, when a regime of emergency was imposed in the north-east of Komi. Iridescent film was found on the surface of the Kolva river near the fourth bridge. The Criminal Investigations Directorate for Arkhangelsk Oblast and NAO opened a criminal case on the fact of the oil spill. Environmentalists from the Save Pechora Committee compared the oil spill to one that happened in October 2020 and called the residents of Komi for speaking out against the "uncivilized" oil production in the republic.

By May 13, oil in the river has reached the village of Kolva, and the Head of the Komi Republic Vladimir Uyba and LUKOIL-Komi’s representative visited local residents. According to the company, almost 100 tons of petroleum products have leaked into the soil and the river as a result of the pipe leak; social activists from the Save Pechora Committee called the number underestimated. They also reported that the oil had reached the Pechora river.

By May 17, the Head of the Komi Republic has imposed a regime of emergency in the Izhma and Ust-Tsilma Districts to prevent the spread of floating oil through reservoirs. Greenpeace Russia reported that the oil slick had reached the village of Ust-Tsilma, which is located 400 km from the Pechora river’s influx into the Arctic Ocean. A day later, the Head of the Komi Republic's press relations service reported that the work on cleaning the rivers from petroleum products was almost finished.


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