Socio-ecological Union

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

Moscow, Russia -- Issue N 12 (46), May 7, 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






  The Ukrainian Parliament's National Safety Committee meeting which is to decide whether or not to route a deep water canal through the Danube Delta biosphere reserve has been postponed to the end of May. This may be because the 5th Pan-European Environment Ministers Meeting of the "Environment for Europe" process is to be held in the capital of the Ukraine, Kiev, from 21. - 23. May 2003. This gives us all an opportunity to lobby European Union Environment Ministers, the responsible Commissioner and national MEPs.
  You can add your support by sending the draft a draft text below, to the addresses of ministers which you will find at the end of message. MEPs addresses are on site
  More publicity for the campaign with the background arguments will be published shortly at

   Thank you,
   Russian and Ukrainian campaigners and David Conlin, Proact International

   ALso more info is at



  Dear Minister,
  The news reaching us from scientists and conservationists in the Ukraine is dismaying.
  For a year and a half now the Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, together with environmental NGOs, have been resisting the attempts of the Ukrainian Ministry of Transport to construct a deep-water ship canal through the Bystroe Estuary within the strictly protected zone of the Danube Biosphere reserve. In December 2002, more than 300 organizations from 64 countries also sent letters of support to the Ukrainian President. Sadly it appears as though this widespread and informed opposition is having little effect on the transport planners and lobbyists even though an alternative, environmentally more acceptable deep-water route is available.
  The facts are that:
  The canal construction will irreversibly change the hydrological regime of the delta and threaten the habitat and survival of protected and endangered species in the reserve
  The deepening of one of the central branches of the Danube for shipping lanes will irreversibly eliminate a total of 5.600 hectares of channel, lake and coastal shallow waters. This will destroy the nesting and staging sites of tens of thousands of birds including 5 species on the European Red List and 31 in the Ukraine Red Book. The habitats of many rare and disappearing species of mammals and insects are also threatened.
  The proposed construction project breaches both national legislation and Ukrainian international obligations in the field of conservation.
  The latest information received from the Ukraine is that the Ukrainian authorities plan to officially accept only a 3.000 hectare area as part of the MAB Biosphere reserve; ignoring the facts that 3.570 hectare are already recorded in UNESCO records with a further 38,779 hectare under protection as an important buffer zone.
  We urge you, as responsible commissioners and environmental ministers of the European Union, to use the occasion of the fifth Pan-European Environment Ministers' Meeting in Kiev at the end of May to raise this matter with your Ukrainian hosts and persuade them to review their stance in this matter.
  In the context of an ever-expanding politically unified Europe it is more than ever important to use such windows of opportunity to rescues what remains of our common but shrinking natural heritage.

  We remain,
  Yours sincerely,


  Mag. Wilhelm Molterer
  Minister for Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management
  Stubenring 1
  A-1012 Wien

  M. Jef Tavernier
  Minister for Consumer Protection, Public Health and the Environment
  Kunstlaan 6-9
  Avenue des Arts
  B-1210 Brussels
  Fax: +32 2220 2067

  Mr Hans Christian Schmidt
  Minister for the Environment
  Hojbro Plads 4
  DK-1200 Copenhagen K

  Mr Satu Hassi
  Minister for the Environment
  P.O. Box 35
  FIN-00023 Government
  Fax: +358 9 1603 9545

  Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development
  20 avenue de Segur
  75302 Paris 07 SP

  Mr Jurgen Trittin
  Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety
  Heinrich-v.-Stephan-Str. 1
  53175 Bonn
  Telefax: +49 1888 3053225

  Mr Vasso Papandreou
  Minister for the Environment, Regional Planning and Public Works
  17, Amaliados str.
  115 23 Athens

  Mr Martin Cullen
  Minister for the Environment and Local Government
  The Custom House
  Dublin 1
  Fax: +353 1 888 2888

  Mr Altero Matteoli
  Minister for the Environment and Protection of Natural Resources

  M. Charles Goerens
  Minister for the Environment
  18 Montee de la Petrusse
  L - 2327
  Fax: +352 40 04 10

  Mr Isaltino MORAIS
  Minister for Towns, Regional Planning and the Environment
  Rua de O Seculo 51
  1200-433 Lisboa
  Fax: +351 213 231 539

  Sr. D. Jaume Matas Palou
  Minister for the Environment
  Pza. San Juan de la Cruz s/n,
  28017 Madrid

  Lena Sommestad
  Minister for the Environment
  SE-103 33 Stockholm
  Fax: + 46 8 21 96 28

  The Netherlands
  Cees Veerman
  Minister for Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries
  Email: Use the contact form at

  United Kingdom
  Rt. Hon Margaret Beckett MP
  Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
  Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  Ergon House
  17 Smith Square
  SW1P 3JR

  United Kingdom
  Fax: 020 7238 6591

  Margot Wallstrom
  Commissioner for the Environment
  B-1049 Brussels
  Fax: + 322 2981899



  ISEU and Union "For Chemical Safety" have sent the second appeal to the President of Russia about fulfillment of international obligations on elimination of chemical weapons in the end of April. First appeal to the President was sent in November 2002.
  On April 26 the authorities have declared their intention to destroy 1% of inventory of mustard gas, which is now stored on the plant in Gorny settlement (Saratov region). The chemical object was set in operation without fulfillment of essential requirements provided by law. Even state environmental assessment of the technology of toxic substance elimination was not carried out.
  In their letter the representatives of NGOs have emphasized that the process for destruction of chemical weapon was started with many infringements of legislation and procedures. The plant for processing of chemical weapons originally was built for another technology of elimination of poisonous substance than that have passed environmental assessment in 1999. The minister of nature resources have approved the documents for building of the object post factum, when the plant was built already, in November of 2002. The object was set in operation without environmental assessment of the technology of poisonous substance elimination. The capacity of the plant was exceeded in 10 times. At the same time, there is no warehouse for a storage of toxic reactionary substances, which are formed during processing of mustard gas, Its construction is only planned, and design documents on its environmental assessment were not submitted for consideration of the Ministry of Nature Resources. Meanwhile these toxic substances were poured in barrels and placed on territory of military chemical warehouse.
  The environmentalists have called upon the President to remember the consequences of soviet attempts on processing of chemical weapons. With regard to the importance of chemical disarmament for Russia the representatives of NGO take note to that it should not turn into disarmament drive dangerous for people and nature. "Mr. President, don't put lives of people on risk: elimination of chemical weapon should not be carried out at any costs, in haste, in secrecy, and with violation of legislation, infringements of regulations and procedures," - reads the letter.




  Action of trees planting was held in Nizhny Novgorod April 26within the international campaign "March for Parks". Students' Nature Guard from Nizhny Novgorod State University and Service for Nature Protection have organized the action.
  The Oksky slope near Malitovsky bridge is the place practically bare of trees. In 19 century there was broad-leaved forest, which was later clear-cut for building. Every spring this place is burned out, is exposed to wind and water erosion. As a result, soil layers slip downwards and are washed off by spring water to the river, exposing natural rock, on which trees could not grow.
  About 50 volunteers from Nizhny Novgorod State University and other colleges of the city took part in the action. They have planted saplings of pine, linden, maple, buckthorn, rowan, dog-rose. The plants were given by Nizhny Novgorod forestry. Planting of trees and bushed is essential for strengthening of the slope edge. The students plan to look after condition of young trees and bushes, water them in case of dry summer, and in autumn they going to plant new trees if necessary.

  For further information:
  Students' Nature Guard of Nizhny Novgorod State University


  The action dedicated to the March for Parks was held in the end of April in Blagoveshchensk (Amur region, Russian Far East). It was carried out within the Year of Reserves in the region.
  More than 300 students from 30 schools of Blagoveshchensk and various districts of Amur region and members of 3 Students' Nature Guards of Far East - "Berkout" ("Golden Eagle") from Biribidzhan, Nizhneamur environmental inspection from Komsomolsk-on-Amur, and "Ussuriysky Bear" from Ussuriysk took part in the action. It was organized and supported by the members of Amur branch of ISEU and "Bars" Nature Guard.
  The participants of the action have passed with environment conservation transparencies and slogans by the central street of Blagoveschensk. In front of the building of regional government students have told to the participants about their nature conservation work. In April school students in all the region planted trees, cleaned rivers and lakes, put performances about nature on the stage, published newspapers about the problems of the reserves of Amur region. Schoolchildren have drawn posters about most urgent problems of Amur region.
  For further information:
  Amur branch of ISEU, Blagoveschensk
  Yuriy Gafarov
  phone: (4162) 53-44-79;


  The exhibition of artworks of artists and children of Crimea dedicated to the festival of reserves and national parks "March for Parks - 2003" is held in museum of local lore of Crimea is held since the April 25 till May 17. In addition the lectures for the students of schools were given in dendro and zoo park and in the museum of Crimea nature reserve, were also the children drawings were exhibited.
  Within the March for Parks in Ukraine the participants conduct exhibitions, plant trees, clean small rivers and springs, help to reserves, game reserves and zoos. And all these actions are aimed to draw attention of many people - and first of all of young people and of authority - to the problems of protection of nature, including reserves and national parks.
  The employees of Crimea Association "Ecology and World" took part in cleaning of Alma river from garbage and branches - the action, which was also carried out within the march for parks. The river Alma is one of the purest rivers of Crimea. Branches which were gathered on flood-lands of the river, will be taken out outside the reserve. This action is necessary also to save the forest from fires, because there is a road along the river, and dry branches can instantly catch fire from stub casually thrown out. This year the March For Parks has coincided with another environmental festival in Ukraine - the Day for Environment Conservation, April 19. This day the employees of "Ecology and World " have carried out the action on clearing of the part of bank of Maly Salgir river from garbage. On the action the inhabitants of houses near Gagarinsky park where the river flows. The inhabitants have helped the ecologists to clear the river.

   Ukraine takes part in the March for Parks since 1996. Since 1998 this action is carried out in Crimea every year, and the number of participants of the action grows.

  For further information:
  "Ecology and World", Simferopol, Crimea

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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