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  2. In Arkhangelsk, activists have proved the waste management charge’s unlawfulness through legal action

In Arkhangelsk, activists have proved the waste management charge’s unlawfulness through legal action

Ivan Zhuravkov
7x7’s archive

The Arkhangelsk Regional Court has declared the waste management service charge in the region illegal. The regional agency for charges and prices established it at the beginning of the "waste reform", in December 2019. Lawyer Denis Bolshakov has been trying to challenge this charge for a year and a half. Meanwhile, he has achieved the abolition of the waste accumulation standard, the residents of the region having begun paying less for trash pickup. This is reported in the Pomorye is not a Dump! Movement’s community on vk.com.

The activists said that the monthly fee for the municipal solid waste (MSW) management consisted of two parts: the maximum unified charge for the waste management service of the regional operator and the MSW accumulation standard, which was set by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Arkhangelsk Oblast. Lawyer Denis Bolshakov considered both the charge and the standard unreasonably high. In January 2020, he filed a lawsuit to declare the waste management service charge illegal. Meanwhile, he also tried to cancel the MSW accumulation standard through legal action.

In January 2021, the Court of Appeal in St. Petersburg declared the MSW accumulation standard unreasonably high and canceled it. The post’s authors claim that residents of the region had begun paying less for trash pickup after that.

The claim for the charge’s cancellation was postponed for the time of the proceedings in the case on the MSW standards. Denis Bolshakov tried to initiate the claim again, but the Arkhangelsk Regional Court stopped considering the case. The lawyer appealed this decision, and the Court of Appeal in St. Petersburg remitted the matter for a fresh trial. As a result, the Arkhangelsk Regional Court invalidated the regional agency for charges and prices’ decision and declared the charge itself economically unjustified from the moment of its adoption at a court session on July 7. Denis Bolshakov has not received the declaration of intent yet.

Activists of the Pomorye is not a Dump! Movement told 7x7 in an interview that the court's decision had put a "final point" in the case that had lasted a year and a half. They stressed that declaring the charge for 2020 economically unjustified did not mean an automatic reassessment of the waste fee for the population.

"Activists and the population filed a lot of appeals to the prosecutor's office, the housing department demanding reassessment — no one is returning money to people yet. It is obvious that people will have to seek the reassessment in court. Such a claim has already been filed. If it is sustained, everyone will be able to go to court and win their money. It is naive to expect an automatic and voluntary reassessment from the regional operator," the activists said.

The new municipal solid waste management system has been operating in Russia since January 1, 2019. Regional officials had to choose a single regional operator for the municipal solid waste management and the method of the charge formation — based on the area of the residential premises or on the number of people registered in it. For example, Kirov Oblast's officials decided that people in Kirov and Kirovo-Chepetsk would pay per 1 m2 for waste, residents of other settlements — per person. The regional Ministry of Housing and Utility Infrastructure explained that the majority of families in Kirov and Kirovo-Chepetsk had areas of up to 54 m2, so the fee per meter would allow them to pay less for trash pickup.

In February 2019, about a thousand residents of Kirov held a rally against the high price for trash pickup. The protesters demanded putting a freeze on the reform in its current form, holding a referendum on the method of the charge formation, and calculating the payment for trash pickup at cost. In March, the activists achieved declaring the charge for trash pickup per 1 m2 of the occupied area illegal through legal action.


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