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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Zvyahilsky Statement Wishful Thinking!

November 21, the day of the rigged 2004 presidential election, marks the third anniversary of the Orange Revolution, officially celebrated on Nov. 22. Still, with miners dying by the dozen and with the smell of shyrka in the air, few fell like celebrating. Ukraine’s circle of life hasn’t changed much.

Donbas, which overwhelmingly supported Yanukovych, made no peace with the Orange Revolution. Now that the Yanukovych’s Party of Regions has been in power for a while and will probably remain so, will Donbasians make peace with coal mines that send them to death?

Ukrayinska Pravda quotes a Delo report in which Yukhym Zvyahilsky, the man who controls the Zasyadka Mine, denies expressing willingness to close the mine. In fact, Zvyahilsky issued a full denial at a funeral ceremony yesterday.

Delo traces the previous statement to Anatoliy Akimochkin, leader of an independent labor union, who, in his own words, overheard it during Zvyahilsky’s conversation with head of the Secretariat Baloha and national security chief Plyushch.

The Zasyadka Mine produces 4 million tons of coal annually, but has a casualty rate 7 times above the industry average.

The poster caption reads:

“Life’s gotten better, comrades. Life’s gotten more fun. And when life is fun, work gets done.”

— Joseph Stalin

Stakhanovtsy, expand the ranks of the Stakhanov movement!
(Note: From
1924 to 1961, Donetsk bore the name of Stalino.)

Image uploaded from:


Buffalo Expat said...

Depressing, isn't it? Closing mines didn't make Yushchenko very popular among these regions during the Revolution. Do you think these new safety laws he is proposing will be of any consequence?

Taras said...

Yes, it is depressing indeed. I guess Yushchenko didn’t close the ones he should have closed.

In Ukraine, safety regulations — no matter how stringent — are severely neglected. We inherited this safety culture form the Soviet era. It takes a lot of training and investment for safety regulations to start providing safety. So far, few in the industry have been willing to walk the talk.

As I understand, in the Zasyadka case we have geological risks that cannot be mitigated even by state-of-the-art safeguards.

We have a mine that is a hybrid of a cash cow and a coffin. Together, they form a vicious circle, a neverending story of "killer coal" that keeps a bunch of profiteers sitting at the top of the food chains while thousands of miners have to dig their own graves.

This Russian roulette must be stopped. Three lives per every million tons of coal output is too steep a price for any democratic country to pay.

Anonymous said...

Ukraine coal miners blame board chairman for mine disaster
"Miners who survived the catastrophic methane explosion at the Zasyadko mine in the Ukraine on Sunday say that the mine's chairman and apparent proprietor, Yefim Zvagilsky, is to blame for unsafe working conditions at the mine, and for imposing steep shift production quotas that led to the suppression of methane detection and shut-off systems. ...

Their political rivalry points up the fact that Zvagilsky, the mine boss, is a backer of Yanukovich, and that the mine asset was transferred from state to private property in a process, the details of which no-one is currently willing to discuss openly.

Yuri Zayets, head of the Zasyadko coal mine's trade union council, was evasive on the accident cause, telling Mineweb ""the reason is still unknown, but it is under investigation."" He was asked who owns the mine.""The owner of the mine is the Ukrainian government. But it landed on to the staff of the mine for operations." This was disputed by Donetskugol. the state enterprise which used to own Zasyadko. A source there told Mineweb: "The Zasyadko mine is no longer on the books of our enterprise" The source claimed he was unable to say when it was sold, or to whom."

WHILE over at RIA-Novosti
"Wages of miners at most of Ukraine's mines are calculated by the volume of coal one can turn out. This often leads miners to ignore safety procedures."


Taras said...

Here comes the same old story again. “Nobody knows” who owns the mine. “Nobody knows” why the miners die.

OK, let’s keep the mine open for another decade or two. Maybe then we’ll get some answers?

Anonymous said...

So if noone owns the mine, who gets the money from the mine?

Taras said...

Good point, Elmer. I think it’s one of those “don’t ask, don’t tell” questions.