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Crimes Against Environment of Crimea:  CrimeaSOS Presents a Report on Ecological Consequences of the Russian Aggression 

May 27, 2021 17:08 0 2639
On May 27, CrimeaSOS organized an online presentation of the ecological report "Environment of Crimea: Changes and Losses Over the Time of Occupation. Part 1. Destruction of the Environment." The report has been co-authored by members of the CrimeaSOS team and a number of Ukrainian ecologists. 

The event was available on the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center website as well as the CrimeaSOS Facebook page.  

Speakers of the presentation: 

Oleksii Vasyliuk -  ecological expert; 

Olena Kravchenko – executive director, member of the board, editor-in-chief, magazine “Environment. People. Law.” 

Ievhenii Iaroshenko – analyst, NGO “CrimeaSOS”; 

Moderator: 

Olha Kuryshko – legal coordinator, NGO “CrimeaSOS.” 

According to experts who participated in the preparation of the report, the environmental situation of Crimea has significantly worsened since the time of occupation. This happened due to the decisions of the local occupying administration of Crimea and the Russian federal government. Some of the ecological problems worsened during the time of occupation. Some other problems appeared due to the occupation. 

According to Oleksii Vasyliuk, an ecologist and one of the report's authors, the Kerch bridge that connects the occupied Crimea to Russia brought the most significant harm to the environment. In addition, the Russian government organizes regular military drills in Crimea that also harm the environment. More details on how those factors influence the ecology of Crimea are available in our interview with Oleksii Vasyliuk. 

Oleksii Vasyliuk emphasized that Crimea is a unique natural area containing many unique species of plants and animals. Due to the occupation, many of those species are at risk of dying out. 

“There are species of plants and animals that appear only in Crimea. They have always been registered in the Red Book of Ukraine [an official red list of endangered species – ed.]. Ukraine studied and protected the nature of Crimea. But the Russian Red Book does not include those species because Russian does not have them. Therefore, they are not protected by Russian laws. We do not even know if those species still exist in Crimea because those plants and animals are not noticeable," – said Oleksii Vasyliuk. 

Ukraine has to collect all the data about Russia's damage to the occupied Crimea's environment to use that data in international courts. This was a statement by Olena Kravchenko, editor-in-chief of the magazine “Environment. PeopleLaw.” She believes that the Ukrainian civic society needs to draw the government's attention to this issue. 

“The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine has to work with the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. They have to create inter-institutional workgroups that would include civic experts who have experience of studying losses that appear as a result of damage to the environment. Already now civic society can demand that the government develops methods of learning about the damage to the environment, [society can demand] collecting that data and preparing it for the international courts," – said Olena Kravchenko. 

Ievhenii Iaroshenko, analyst of NGO “CrimeaSOS," spoke about the international legislative regulation of the environmental protection of Crimea. He emphasized that there are three main areas of international law that regulate the environmental situation on the peninsula: international human rights, international humanitarian law, and environmental law. 

The first two areas regulate the problems of the environment only indirectly, while the international environmental law focuses on ecology. The problem of using the international environmental law in relation to Russia comes from the fact that Russia has not joined many of the conventions on the environment that Ukraine has been part of. 

According to Ievhenii Iaroshenko, there are five international institutions that Ukraine can use to appeal against Russia's damage to the Crimean environment. Those are:  

  • World Heritage Committee; 
  • The International Criminal Court; 
  •  Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague; 
  • The European Court on Human Rights; 
  • United National Human Rights Committee.  

According to Olha Kuryshko, legal coordinator of NGO “CrimeaSOS," the report "Environment of Crimea: Changes and Losses Over the Time of Occupation" should become a first step towards documenting and collecting the facts of Russian violations in the sphere of the ecology of Crimea. 

A full text of the first part of our report is available here (in Ukrainian). 

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