21 February 2018, Wednesday, 9:45
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HR Defender From Svetlahorsk: Authorities Fear People's Protests Against Plant

3
ALENA MASLIUKOVA
PHOTO: DW.COM

The construction of the bleached pulp plant was conducted with violations.

For the last several months there has been a horrible smell in Svetlahorsk and the surrounding villages, coming from the new bleached pulp plant, built by a Chinese corporation. People complain about the worsening health, choking, nausea and vomiting. The management of the plant and the municipal authorities assure citizens that the emissions are not harmful to health, the press-center of the Belarusian National Congress informs.

Human rights defender Alena Masliukova told during the demonstration on February 11 that the local authorities are afraid of popular protests against the plant and forbid holding pickets on this topic even in the permitted places:

- The fact is that in the nineties the Council of Ministers decided that chemical production in Svetlahorsk should no longer develop, because there are two large harmful production facilities in the city. But then they changed their mind. Residents collected more than 10 thousand signatures against the construction (the Svetlahorsk population is about 70 thousand people). But neither Lukashenka nor the local authorities listened to us.

The plant was built with violations, everyone in the town knows about it. Until it started working, people put up with it, but in November disturbances began, people asked uncomfortable questions, wondering where strange smells had come from across the town. Therefore, we must go to pickets and demand compliance with the laws.

About 100 people came to the meeting with the leaders of the Belarusian National Congress in Svetlahorsk on February 11. The main theme was environmental issues in the town.

Representatives of environmental organizations and specialists spoke at the action, having told about the danger posed by the bleached pulp plant. The residents of Svetlahorsk also received leaflets with an invitation to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian People's Republic on March 25 in Minsk and the information on the ways to bypass the blocking of the Charter97.org website. Many participants stressed that this is especially important now and thank the journalists for covering timely local issues.