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  2. In Komi, the police came to an activist’s house after she reported oil in the river

In Komi, the police came to an activist’s house after she reported oil in the river

Ivan Zhuravkov
Photo by Maria Ermolina
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Maria Ermolina, a member of the Save Pechora Committee Environmental Organization from the Ust-Tsilma District, discovered an iridescent film in the Pechora river. The woman posted the pictures on vk.com, the police coming to her house after that. The law enforcement officers' report says that the district administration asked to find the author of the post. Ermolina told 7x7 about this.

The activist published the post on June 20 after going fishing together with her family to the Pechora River in the village of Koroviy Ruchey. There she saw an iridescent film in the water and assumed it was oil. The woman took a picture of what she saw and posted it on her page on vk.com. The pictures were also posted on the Save Pechora Committee’s Telegram channel.

"We went fishing with my family today; unfortunately, the fishing was no joy. Koroviy Ruchey, the Ust-Tsilma District. This oil slick was being carried along the Pechora river,"Maria Ermolina’s post said.

Photo by Maria Ermolina Photo by Maria Ermolina

She told 7x7 that on June 21, she received a call from the police and was summoned to the station. The woman replied that she would not be able to come, and then law enforcement officers came to her house. They explained that they wanted to take an explanation from Ermolina because of her post about the rainbow film in Pechora.

The report (7x7 has its copy) states that Stanislav Durkin, a duty officer of the Shared Duty Operator Center (SDOC) of the Ust-Tsilma District Administration, contacted the police. The man saw the pictures, which were taken from Ermolina’s page, in a community on vk.com. The SDOC's specialist asked to identify the author of the photos, as well as when and where the photo was taken.

According to Ermolina, the police officer took her explanation and said that law enforcement officers would conduct an inspection under the article on failure to meet environmental protection requirements when dealing with industrial and consumer waste (Article 8.2 of the Administrative Code). The activist thought that the administration had filed a complaint against her and explained that she had had no intention to scare anyone with her post, simply sharing what she had seen.

"I have posted the photos so that my relatives and friends see what is going on here. We have never seen anything like this before. If I knew that they would file a report against me, I would think twice before posting it anywhere," said Ermolina.

The Department for Civil Defense and Emergency Situations of the administration of the Ust-Tsilma District told 7x7 that their employee had gone to Pechora to find no "oil slicks" in the river on June 21. After that, the administration decided to find the author to check whether the information about the river’s contamination was true.

"The information hit social networks. We cannot summon and interrogate her [Ermolina] ourselves. Therefore, the employee asked the police to check the information and take action if something proves correct. Sometimes people will post something thoughtlessly, the information being not true," said the district administration’s representative.

He stressed that the reason why SDOC's employee had contacted the police was not for the law enforcement authorities to hold Ermolina administratively liable. According to him, the purpose of the appeal is for the woman to show law enforcement officers where she found the "oil slick" in Pechora. He added that if it was there, "this was caused by local residents, rather than by the accident at Oshsky Oil Field in mid-May".

"Oil wells in the district are standing idle. The oil that spilled in Usinsk [this refers to 99 tons of spilled oil at Oshsky Oil Field in May] would have already floated there and would not have appeared in any way here at the moment. Therefore, SDOC raised the question of how it could be here. Someone might have spilled it. A lot of people here use small vessels, motor ships go here. But we are not drawing any conclusions. We have contacted the police to get some confirmation of the information," the official said.

The last major oil spill in Komi was in mid-May. The regime of emergency was imposed in three districts of Komi — Usinsk, Izhma, and Ust-Tsilma — due to an accident at Oshsky Oil Field in the bordering Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The experts of the Save Pechora Committee did not believe the official oil leak rate and declared it underestimated, referring to their own calculations. Criminal cases on the fact of the oil spill were initiated in Komi and Arkhangelsk Oblast and NAO. Environmentalists reported that the oil had reached the village of Ust-Tsilma.

In June, the Komi State Council prepared an appeal to the State Duma and the Federation Council with a request to limit the working lifespan of oil pipelines, introduce a multiplier when calculating a compensation for damage caused to the environment, and increase fines for oil spills.


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