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Shiyes Landfill in Arkhangelsk region, Russia


The blockade of a Russian landfill site has inspired a nationwide movement against plans to export garbage to poorer and less populated areas in the Russian hinterlands. The landfill site in Russia’s Northwestern Arkhangelsk region is slated to process 500,000 tons of Moscow’s trash per year, and is being built near a railway station called Shiyes.[12]

The city of Moscow has been facing serious issues with waste management for decades, reaching a trash crisis in 2018. Landfills from soviet times are in fact insufficient for the growing amount of solid household trash which is dumped in regional landfills, and only a tiny percentage is burned or recycled [1]

In March 2018, the Mayor of Moscow came under pressure to reform trash handling, as doctors linked the hospitalization of 60 school children to fumes originating from a local landfill [2]. To avoid further protest in the capital region authorities decided to close controversial landfills and ship 6.6 mio tons of waste into other regions [1].

As a consequence, a trash reform came into effect on 1st of January 2019: 4 „ecoclusters“ in Moscow region compress and pack trash for storaging it in the „ecotechnoparks“ to be build accross European Russia.

One of the first „ecotechnoparks“ is being built 1200 km North of Moscow at Shiyes train station in Arkhangelsk region, with a planned capacity of 500.000 t of trash per year [1]. End of August about 3,000 local people protested the landfill when they learned from social media that Moscow's trash will arrive within a few days and that plans for the „ecotechnopark“ do not include any recycling facility, but aim to storage trash for at least 30 years [3].

Local citizens take offense in the decision making process and demand a referendum. The local municipality for Shiyes, in the village Yrdomyi, wasn't involved in decision making, project documentation is lacking and no environmental impact assessment was carried out. [9]

The contracting for building the landfill was not publicised and the contract awarded to a company with personal ties to officials working for the Mayor of Moscow [1].

The landfill is being built in a water sanitation zone, designated to protect drinking water. The local branch of the „agency for natural resource management“ so far fined the building company „Technopark“ 800.000 roubles for pollution, which they currently appeal in court [4].

Since August repeated protests were held in Moscow and in 26 other regions where authorities plan to build new „ecotechnoparks“ [5]. The protests drew 30,000 protesters in the street of Arkhangelsk on Dec 2 and a central square held a permanent protest camp for several weeks. At the construction site of the landfill an „Eco-Guard“ was installed in November to check the construction site for environmental damage at daily basis. This guard has been met with police inspections several times. One person was hospitalized [6].

The region's governor publicly insulted the protestors, which resulted in an unauthorised protest on April 7 with about 2000-3000 protesters calling for his resignation. Police detained some protesters, as of end of April a total of 32 protesters were given fines amounting to close to 1 mio roubles [6]. Two of them were journalists who were fined 215.000 roubles for not carrying visible press cards and no letter of work engagement from a media house when arrested at the protest [7]

On 25th of April Arkhangelsk court allowed locals to register an initiative for holding a referendum. One of the initiators of the referendum is being prosecuted under a new law of „fake news“ for sharing information about the protest of April 7 on social media, max fine is 100.000 roubles [6]. 

On May 10 Arkhangelsk court ruled that building of the landfill is suspended and a technical building report for the landfill must be presented until 2019 June 17 [8].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Shiyes Landfill in Arkhangelsk region, Russia
Country:Russian Federation
State or province:Arkhangelsk
Location of conflict:Yrdomyi municipality
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Specific commodities:Domestic municipal waste

Project Details and Actors

Project details

500.000 t of solid domestic waste per year shall be storaged at Shiyes in Arkhangelsk region. The waste originates in Moscow and will be transferred by train. [1]

3000h of forest will be logged for the landfill [10] where the waste shall be stored for 30 years minimum. [3]

Project area:3000 [10]
Level of Investment:163,000,000 [1]
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:20/08/2018
Company names or state enterprises:TechnoPark from Russian Federation - Building company of landfill
Moscapremont from Russian Federation - Investor for landfill
Relevant government actors:Pro landfill:
Mayor of Moscow
Arkhangelsk Regional Government (Oblast)
Con landfill:
Yrdomyi Municipality
Local brances of Росприроднадзор (natural resources agency), Ростехнадзор (technical agency) and Росводресурсов ( water resources)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Information website
„Protect Russian North“ movement
„Committee Safe Petshora“ NGO
„42“ ecological NGO
Moscow Zero Waste (Recycling Campaign)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Urban citizens of Moscow, citizens of areas where further ecotechnoparks are planned. Hunters.
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Recycling waste at source is proposed by Moscow NGOs and locals.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Court suspended the project until technical studies are presented, but some construction is on-going. Harassment and repression of the protestors by police continues. One court case was won in January 2020 but it is under appeal. [11]

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] News (Russian) Pomore is preparing to take film-packed briquettes with Moscow garbage. News 18.10.18.

[7] Znak. (Russian) We count this as repression. Ignak Bakin. 10.4.2019.

[5] The Moscow Times. 8 more activists detained following arkhangelsk landfill protest. 11.4.2019.

[2] Meduza. Our very best, absolutely ideal landfill (Russian) . Ilya Jhegulev. 29.3.2018.

[6] Bellona. (Russian) Shies: repression makes people stronger. Igor Yadroshnikov. 29.4.2019.

[9] Yushniy Federalniy. Construction of the Sheets landfill will be suspended by the authorities. Anastasia Kuznetsova. 16.05.2019.

[8] 7x7 Journal. (Russian) Court in Arkhangelsk appointed an expert review of the facilities under construction at Shies station. Maria Gavrilova. 08.05.2019.

The New York Times. Russians, Feeling Poor and Protesting Garbage, Suffer Winter Blues. Neil MacFarcuhar. 19.02.2019.

(This arcticle provides general background reading about political situation and conflicts between Moscow and provinces).

[1] Meduza. Moscow needs to get rid of six million tons of garbage. Which regions will it be transported to and who will do it. Ivana Golynova. 1.11.2018.

[4] 7x7. (Russian) "Technopark" appealed in court against the fine from Rosprirodnadzor for drilling wells at Shies station in the Arkhangelsk region. The parties dispute whether this is considered use of subsurface resources. Karina Sabolotnaya. 27.03.2019.

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Information website

Facebook profile of protestors. Can be contacted in English.

[11] Court rules to demolish controversial landfill in northern Russia

Read in Russian | Читать по-русски


The Moscow Times

January 09, 2020

A Russian court has ruled to demolish the landfill at the heart of a year-long battle over Moscow’s waste, marking a major victory for regional activists who actively opposed its construction.

[12] Bellona. EnvJustice, The Ecologist, 12 Febr. 2020, How Moscows's thrash became treasure.

Bellona, The Ecologist, 12 Febr. 2020, How Moscows's thrash became treasure.

Meta information

Contributor:Carola Rackete, [email protected]
Last update13/02/2020



Shiyes train station

landfill in construction


Landfill site next to train station Shiyes


Photo of the first page of the building contract for the landfill.