Transparency activist receives death threats while standing up to construction mafia in Kyiv suburb

What appears to be a memorial plaque was installed at the entrance to the home of Iryna Fedoriv, a transparency activist leading a campaign against the construction mafia in Irpin. Photo: chesno org 

Ukraine

Edited by: Michael Garrood, Alya Shandra

Iryna Fedoriv, the editor-in-chief of the website of the Ukrainian NGO Chesno advocating for transparency and accountability in politics, has been subjected to an exotic attempt to intimidate her. On 14 July, in a thinly-veiled death threat, unknown persons affixed a memorial plaque bearing Fedoriv’s photo at the entrance to the house where her apartment is placed. This is by no means the first threat to Fedoriv, as well as to her neighbors fighting to save a plot of land they are living on.

Chesno’s editor- in-chief lives in the village of Kotsiyubynske, Kyiv Oblast. While the village is located only 16 kilometers from Kyiv’s center, it still remains an enclave within the capital. Kotsiubynske citizens do not receive the same level of medical services as in Kyiv nor is there local public transport (one can get to Kyiv by minibus at the intercity rate). Most local taxes go to the Kyiv budget.

Therefore the locals are demanding that their village be officially integrated within Kyiv. They even appealed to the Kyiv mayor Vitaliy Klitschko with a corresponding request.  

Those opposed to the decision are construction companies aimed at building houses in local forests. There are a lot of new buildings in Kotsiubynske, with according to unofficial data up to 30,000 people living there in spite of only about 9,000 of them having a residence permit.

The nameplate on the Fedoriv’s house appeared the same day that she, together with other local activists, organized a protest called “Kotsiubynske is Kyiv” near the Parliament. 

“Irpin [city] developers, who dream of building up the Bilichanskyi Forest and have construction plots there are ready to hold more than 20,000 people as hostages without access to medicine and quality access to education, without public transport and other services,” Fedoriv explains. 

The entrance to Iryna Fedoriv’s house. Photo from Iryna Fedoriv’s Facebook page.

Chesho’s editor-in-chief associates the recent attempt of intimidation with the leader of the party New Faces Volodymyr Karpliuk. She said the recent memorial plaque incident was only the last one in a line of attempts to intimidate her: she had received death threats before and intimidating phone calls earlier; as well, unknowns cut the tires of her car and she encountered a man with a knife at the entrance, after which she and her child had live-in security.

In Ukraine, construction and land plots issues and are the reasons for the majority of local conflicts and attacks on local activists. As a result of such an attack, Kherson city activist and politician Kateryna Handziuk was killed. Numerous cases of attacks and threats to activists have been registered in Odesa.

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“In Ukraine, there is a critical situation with attacks on activists and failings of the cases on that. In addition to physical violence, whistleblowers, journalists, and those who defend the interests of their communities are constantly intimidated, their personal data published, monitored and harassed, both on the Internet and in real life. I don’t want to think about how such an alleged ‘trolling’  with the installation of the nameplate reminding a memorial plaque could end up. We appeal to the police and demand a proper investigation into this incident, and we will also provide Irina with appropriate support,” Vita Dumanska, the Chesno Movement coordinator said.

As of now, now one was punished for the previous cases of threats and intimidations to Fedoriv which has been ongoing since 2018. 

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The Chesno movement was established in October 2011. Its goal is to “stimulate transparency, accountability, and openness of state officials and the demand for quality policy among the citizens” and its area of expertise concerns parliamentarism and local self-government, politics, and elections.

Edited by: Michael Garrood, Alya Shandra

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