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Open-air Waste Dumps near Moscow, Russia

Since 2018, there have been widespread protest movements against landfills run by government-complicit "garbage mafias" in the towns surrounding Moscow.


In 2018, waste management company Khartia, part of an alleged “garbage mafia” of officials connected to Kremlin, won a 500-million-euro ($635 million) contract to manage waste in Moscow and the surrounding region, establishing several massive open-air landfills. Khartia is owned by Igor Chaika, the son of Yury Chaika, Russia’s prosecutor general [2].  The dumps are overloaded, do not have adequate safety protections, emit toxic gases, and contaminate the groundwater. This is also a social and economic problem because of the emergence of illegal dumps and bad business practices monopolizing the waste management sector [3]. Moreover, while Moscow and some of its elite residents generate more than twice the amount of waste as residents in the surrounding towns, the surrounding towns must deal with all the waste and are at the bottom of environmental ratings out of 85 Russian regions. Moscow itself ranks 23rd [3]. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Open-air Waste Dumps near Moscow, Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Central
Location of conflict:Moscow Oblast
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Companies such as Khartia charge between 2000 and 3000 roubles

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Level of Investment:640,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/01/2018
Company names or state enterprises:Khartia from Russian Federation
Relevant government actors:Federal Security Service, The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Human Rights Watch, Friends of the Earth Russia, The Republic of Shiyes protest camp, Chistaya Urdoma, Komi Voityr, Doryam Asnymos, Memorial Komi, Free Historical Society, Immortal Regiment, Pomorye Ne Pomoika, Greenpeace Russia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impacts headaches and nausea
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Violent targeting of activists
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The garbage protests continue with little effect and the landfills keep operating and expanding.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[7] Center of Eastern Studies. A stinking business. Environmental issues, protests and big money in the waste business in Russia (Rogoza 2018)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Business & Human Rights Resource Center. In Eastern Europe, the COVID-19 pandemic is being used to attack human rights defenders (Skybenko 2020)
[click to view]

[2] Politico. Putin’s Garbage Challenge (Bennetts 2019)
[click to view]

[3] OSW. Environmental issues, protests and big money in the waste business in Russia (Rogoza 2018)
[click to view]

[4] OCCRP. The spoils of Russia’s trash reforms go to the well-connected (Anin 2020)
[click to view]

[5] Business & Human Rights Resource Center. Svetlana Kareva (2019)
[click to view]

[6] YouTube. Обращение Главы Серпуховского района А.В.Шестуна к Президенту (2018)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Dalena Tran, ICTA-UAB, [email protected]
Last update30/04/2021
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