Socio-ecological Union

The Newsletter of
the Socio-Ecological Union
A Center for Coordination
and Information

Moscow, Russia -- Issue N 9 (43), April 3, 2003

SEU Times is a newsletter devoted to environmental news, events, NGO work within former Soviet Union territory. Currently it is mailed out on special occasions.

MORE NEWS IN ENGLISH FROM SEU-TERRITORY are available on Ecoport - green news project English version at






  April 2, 2003 the environmental activist Farid Tukhbatullin was released from prison.
  Late at night Turkmenistan national TV-channel has reported that the presidential pardon was granted to Farid Tukhbatullin. Probable reason of pardon are numerous protests of international community, and also the promise made by Turkmen President Saparmurad Niazov to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the chair in office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during his visit in Turkmenistan in March.
  As we already reported, March 4 the Azaltyck District court of Ashgabat (the capital of Turkmenistan) has convicted Farid Tukhbatullin to 3 years of imprisonment. He was accused of illegitimate crossing of border between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan (article 210 (1) of Turkmenistan Criminal Code) and misprision (article 214).
  The environmentalist was accused of non reporting of preparing attempt on the President Saparmurad Niyazov, which in opinion of Turkmen authorities, was discussed at Human Rights Conference held November 2002 in Moscow. In fact, Farid had become the victim of the wave of "witch-hunt" raised after the attempt on the President of the country.
  The conference was organized by International Helsinki Federation and "Memorial" Human Rights organization. The members of international human rights organizations - Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Human Rights League, Amnesty International - took part in the conference. All these organizations witnessed for Farid Tukhbatullin innocence in court, and insisted on peace content of the conference. The authorities of Turkmenistan, however, have found participation of Farid Tukhbatullin in the conference and non-reporting of its content criminal, and he was imprisoned. Tukhbatullin was also charged in illegal crossing of Turkmen border. The reason for this charge has become missed stamp of border crossing in Tukhbatullin's passport, that frontier official accidentally forgot to stamp.

  More info on the case is at



  Dear friends!
  The Ukrainian Ministry of Transport still cannot leave in peace Danube Biosphere reserve and insists on deep-water canal construction through its territory. Now the main idea is that some of the documents for reserve establishment were falsified and that was how the estuaries were included into reserve. Its absolute and stupid lie, however, they are going to bring this issue up on April 10 at Ukrainian Parliament's National committee on safety meeting. So once again we will have to send faxes for the sake of Danube's wildlife.
  Please, do it before April 9.
  More info is at

  Open Letter

  Letter to:

  For faxes - Kiev code: 8-10-380-44

  President of Ukraine L. Kuchma:
  fax: 291-61-61;
  e-mail:   Prime Minister of Ukraine V. Yanukovich:
  fax: 226-20-77,

  Chairman Of the Verkhovnaya Rada Committee of Ukraine on National
  Safety and
  Defense G.Kryuchkov:
  fax: 255-49-28.

  Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine A. Zlenko:
  fax: 253-94-93,

  Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources V. Shevchuk:
  fax: 229-83-83,

  Minister of Economy and European Integration of Ukraine V. Khoroshkovsky:
  fax: 253-06-83.

  Minister of Transport of Ukraine G.Kirpa:
  fax: 268-22-02,

  Chairman of Committee on Border Control N. Litvin:
  fax: 212-39-80,

  Odessa region Administration Head S Grineveckiy.

  Danube Biosphere reserve's wholeness must be preserved!
  The deep-water ship canal should go beyond the protected territories borders.

  Dear Sirs!
  For year and a half by now Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences together with environmental NGOs resist the attempts of Ukrainian Ministry of Transport to construct a deep-water ship canal through Bistro Estuary within strictly protected zone of Danube Biosphere reserve.
  Almost for year and a half world scientific and environmental community evinces to Ukrainian authorities the value of Danube biosphere reserve and absurdity of construction within the protected zone. In December 2002 more than 300 organizations from 64 countries sent their letters to the President of Ukraine for the sake of the reserve.
  However, the lobbyists of the canal construction still hope to pull through their project. At the end of February 2003 Minister Georgy Kirpa told the press about the plans of his office to withdraw the estuaries from the protected area.
  The issue of the Danube-Black Sea canal construction through Bystroe Esturay will be considered on April 10 2003 on Ukrainian Parliament Committee on National Safety meeting. Strangely, the alternative canal variant is not on schedule.
  This is why we remind you the following facts:
  The canal construction will irreversibly change the hydrological regime of the delta, disturb natural processes of delta formation, inescapable pollution of the ecosystem by oil products, change the habitat for most of the species, decrease of the trade fishery amount, will threaten endangered species inhabiting the area.
  The construction of the canal calls for the creation of a navigable opening through the sand bars of the delta and the deepening of one of the central branches of the Danube for shipping lanes. The building of the canal through the nature reserve will necessitate the removal of water-area and adjacent islands, dividing the reserve into two isolated sections. The latest version of the Ministry of Transportation's plans envisions the removal of all the water-area along the coastal sections of the reserve - a total of 5.600 hectares of channel, lake and coastal shallow waters.
  The withdrawal of all the water-area along the delta in the reserve will worsen or even make impossible the nesting of tens of thousand birds. The reserve will lose practically all the places where flocks of waterfowl and near-water dwelling birds congregate seasonally. The natural habitats of birds in these territories will be radically damaged. Just in the proposed zone of the shipping lanes reside 223 species of birds, including 5 on the European Red List and 31 in the Red Book of Ukraine. On the territory also reside or temporarily inhabit many rare and disappearing species of mammals and insects. The normal habitats of many of them are incompatible with what is being planned. If the plans of the Ministry of Transportation are realized, the Danube Biosphere Reserve will actually lose its importance on an international and national level.
  The proposed construction project violates both national legislation and international obligations of Ukraine.
  We do not by any means oppose the restoration of ship transit through the Ukrainian part of the Danube delta. We want to draw your attention to the fact that the alternative canal variants beyond the Bystroe estuary do exist; some of them have investors, while Mintrans wants to withdraw money from state budget - the money of Ukrainian taxpayers. Is not this a root cause for the Mintrans insistence on Bystroe project and sabotage of all alternatives?
  Taking in account all listed above, we consider repugnant the deep-water canal construction through Bystroe estuary within strictly protected zone of the Danube Biosphere reserve. Attempts to change the borders of the biosphere reserve and to withdraw part of its key protected area will have a negative impact on the international image of Ukraine, especially taking in account the fact that Ukraine is hosting European Ecoforum in May 2003.
  We hope that Ukrainian authorities will take all necessary steps to conserve the reserve.


  We ask to send copies of your letters to Pechenegi group at

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  This issue was written and complied by
  Sviatoslav Zabelin - the SEU Council Co-Chair,
  Olga Berlova, Victoria Kolesnikova, translated by Alla Kapoustina
  Previous Issues of The SEU Times may be found at
  "The Online Gadfly" at