Civilians  at Khoper River (Russia) brutally beaten by the nickel mining company guards

Civilians at Khoper River (Russia) brutally beaten by the nickel mining company guards



May 13, Khoper, Central Russia – participants of a civil peaceful watch camp at Khoper were brutally beaten by the guards of the nickel mining company LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant.

The locals – civil watch participants, were documenting the law violations by the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant (Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company) who have started geological works on these territories. The locals were standing in front of the illegally-installed fence when the private security guards (from a Patrul’ company) opened the gates and beat the activists, pushing away police officers who tried to protect the demonstrators. The guards dragged three activists in, closed the gates and continued to beat them while the police and other locals tried to open the gates. Then they threw over the bodies of the beaten activists over a two-meter metal fence.

One of the locals – Igor Zhitenev, a Cossack chieftain, fell unconscious while being beaten. He is suffering from concussion, broken ribs and a broken jaw, as later stated by paramedics. Other activists have their noses smashed and their teeth broken. The guards used tasers and threw bricks at the activists, inflicting head injuries on two other activists.

The peaceful civil watch began on May 11, 2013 as a bid to fix and document illegal works on the territories earmarked for the further obtrusive nickel mining. The nickel mining company started illegally cutting down trees and installing metal fences with concrete foundations on the agricultural territories. These works were temporary stopped by the activists who called the police. But the regional police prefer not to interfere in the conflict.

On May 13 Cossack Alexander Dolgopyatov started a hunger strike in Novokhopersk against nickel mining in the region. This week other locals plan to join him in the hunger strike.

The striker and the civil watch participants insist on the ban of the toxic nickel mining major agricultural Black Earth territories of the Central Russia. The license to mine nickel was awarded to the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant without taking into account the damage nickel mining will inflict in these territories, which are home to many endangered species, and without any respect to local peoples’ wishes. This amounts to violations of both civil rights and ecological regulations.

Contacts: Konstantin Rubakhin +7 925 585 4145

Tatyana Kargina: +7 915 00 27 938

Natasha Milovzorova:





Located in the center of Russia, in the Black Earth Belt, 439 km south of Moscow, Voronezh Region is a densely populated, traditionally agricultural region, due to its fertile soils (the Black Belt Earths). Introducing the nickel mines (that can’t be waste-free production) in this unique region, carefully preserved for more than eighty years, is an act of bargaining the living nature for the sake of a short-term economic profit.

The Khoper River, the largest left feeder of the fourth biggest Russian river Don, and the adjacent wood areas are the rare territories that have stayed preserved from the by-effects of the technologic development. In 1935 the Khoper Nature Reserve was founded for the purposes of saving the Russian Desman, – small mammal of the mole family, characterized by its long bi-lobed snout. This animal, whose ancestors are as ancient as mammoth – 500 000 years B.C., was almost fully destroyed in the beginning of the XXth century by hunters for its precious fur. The captive breeding of this delicate animal is impossible, and the only chance to preserve it is preserving its habitat. The local Desman population is extremely vulnerable as it counts only about 150 units.



Nickel deposits were discovered in the region during the Soviet period, in the 1970-ies, but were left untouched and the question of mining never rose. Until 2011 when V. Putin granted the permission for the competition for mining on these territories. In summer 2012 the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant was announced as the winner.

The mining project evokes several major points of concern: 1/ Mines are planned in the proximity of 20 km from the Khoper Nature Reserve; it will cause the destabilization of habitat of rare species. 2/ Waste dumps for the earth material extracted from the mines risk to be made on the precious Black Earth which covers this territory; 3/ Voids formed by extracted ore will be filled with cement; it prevents from avalanches in the mines, but leads to the drastic transformation and degradation of the soil as well as of the multiple subterranean waters of the region; 4/ Metallic substance will have to pass through the primary burning that implies huge amounts of water neutralizing acid-alkaline processes. The leaks from drain water reservoirs can fatally pollute Khoper, as well as go further to the Don River.

The current Russian legislation gives absolutely no mechanism to public control of the activities of private mining corporations. The tragic example of Nornikel Company’s influence over ecology is the city Norilsk (Siberia), the 91st largest populated Russian city. The mining and smelting activity made it the most polluted city in Russia and one of the most polluted on Earth. Life expectancy in Norilsk in 10 years less than all-Russian statistical ratios.

VIDEO: Activists beaten by the nickel company guards

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