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In the summer of 2018, tractors and construction equipment without license plates appeared near a small Shies railway station on the border of the Arkhangelsk region and the Komi Republic. Local hunters were the first to find them. They also noticed that a large section of the forest around has already been cut down. A few months later, in October, the authorities of Moscow and the Arkhangelsk region announced that they were building an ecotechnopark together. However, it soon became clear that behind a beautiful word there was an ordinary dump: Moscow garbage, compressed into briquettes, was decided to be placed in a swampy forest at the Shies station, a thousand kilometers from the capital. It was planned to bring 250 cars with garbage to the station every day.


The construction of landfills in swampy areas is prohibited by law. Decomposed waste and landfill gas will poison the water, from the swamp it will get through the Northern rivers to the Barents sea, and from there to the Scandinavian countries.


December 2. 2018, mass rallies began in the Arkhangelsk region and the Komi Republic. Local residents demanded to stop work, not to import garbage from Moscow and to remove Igor Orlov from the post of the Governor of the Arkhangelsk region.


At the end of 2018, activists set up a tent camp at Shies and blocked the roads where fuel was delivered to builders. In the summer, Russian Railways closed the Shies passenger station. Employees from private security company, police and riot police were put up against the activists. At the same time, the investor of ecotechnopark could not present the results of environmental assessment, construction permits, or even the project itself.


Residents of the North collected and submitted more than 60.000 signatures against illegal construction to President Putin's reception office, but in November, the Supreme court banned a referendum on this issue for the third time.


January 9.2020, the arbitration court of the Arkhangelsk region recognized the structures built by the investor near the Shies station as illegal. However, whether this will stop the construction of the landfill is still unknown. Anyway, Shies has already become a symbol of civil protest against the arbitrariness of the officials.

© Anna Shulyatyeva