The Access Initiative

Environmental Activist Volodymyr Honcharenko Murdered in Ukraine

By Carrie McKee (Posted: August 7, 2012)

Well-known Ukrainian activist Volodymyr Honcharenko died on Friday, August 3rd from injuries sustained during a brutal attack two days prior. Honcharenko was en route to his dacha when he was blocked on the road by a group of men, pulled from his car, and viciously beaten. The attack came four days after a press conference in which Honcharenko made public information on 180 tons of toxic metal waste being held in the Kryvyi Rih district. Honcharenko called the waste a “chemical time bomb” and warned that the toxic material could end up in exported scrap metal.

Honcharenko was known for his work with the NGO For Citizens’ Rights to a Safe Environment and the newspaper ECO Safety, described by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group as the “sole reliable source of environmental information in Ukraine with data, references and evidence used not only by the media and individuals but by central and local authorities”. A member of the Academy of Engineering Sciences and the International Academy of Ecology, Human Safety and Nature, Honcharenko released diligent scientific reports with his colleagues. Honcharenko brought to light information on a number of issues, including the production and use of battery components, contamination of reservoirs and the quality of drinking water; the nuclear power industry, the ore enriching industry and radioactive contamination; the use of domestic and industrial waste, and others. He also advocated for access to accurate information, recently pointing out that the Ukrainian government hasn’t produced legally mandated reports on the state of the environment since 2005.

Honcharenko’s friends and colleagues are in “no doubt” that the attack was a result of his activism. They say he had previously received numerous threats, and was known for his pointed criticism of corporate negligence and government corruption.

In Honcharenko’s words: “The environment’s worst enemy is indifference and incompetence, and sometimes also criminal inaction from officials responsible for monitoring an environment safe for people’s life and health.”

Read more on Ukraine’s “chemical time bomb” here:

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