Transcarpathian Zen: blossoming and picketing
Instead of philosophical contemplation of sakura blossom, Transcarpathians were protesting the whole month, the Ukrinform analyzes.
Despite the Zen, which the flowering of the sakuras should have brought (as April is the month when the cities and villages of Transcarpathia turn into a flowering paradise), it was the month when multiple protests took place in the region.
Interestingly, in all cases, the protesters blocked the state and international roads - to draw public attention to their problems. The problems related to different spheres of life: the "veto" of the Regional State Administration on the formation of a united community in Uzhgorod district; a murder of a student and change of pretrial restraint against the suspected murderer from imprisonment to house arrest; even road repair, or rather lack thereof. Transcarpathians even managed to argue about sakuras: albeit, without pickets, but with mutual insults by Uzhgorod and Mukachevo residents due to the fact that this year, it was Mukachevo, and not Uzhgorod, that was recognized as the sakura capital in Transcarpathia.
WHILE THE OLD AIRPORT IS STILL NOT FUNCTIONING, THE OFFICIALS TALK ABOUT A NEW ONE
One of the top events in the region at the beginning of the month was the working visit of the Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan to Transcarpathia. The most pressing issue was resuming the operations of the Uzhgorod airport. However, no exact date was mentioned - the minister Omelyan only informed that the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine was planning to resume regular air service in Transcarpathia by the end of this year. Volodymyr Omelyan emphasized that Uzhgorod airport should be ready for 2018-2019 winter navigation.
But local residents were not particularly excited about the official's promise: Transcarpathians remember that back in November 2016 Volodymyr Omelyan already assured that the airport would start working in April 2017.
Therefore, Transcarpathians were especially surprised by Omelyan's statement that the regional authorities were considering the construction of another airport - in Khust or Mukachevo. The prospects of the construction of new airports in the region while the international airport "Uzhgorod" is still not functioning seemed a bit flimsy.
But what Transcarpathians are really concerned about in the infrastructure sphere is the state of roads in the region, which in general can be decribed as "catastrophic".
The Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan during his visit to Transcarpathia stressed that the most important thing for the region was the repair of the Kyiv-Chop highway.
"Currently, the repair of the Kyiv-Chop road is a priority for Transcarpathian region. This year, more than UAH 430 million will be allocated for its repair. Also, UAH 218.7 million will be allocated for repair and construction works on highways of local importance. All roads between the district centers must have a high-quality pavement," - Volodymyr Omelyan emphasized.
PROTESTERS ON THE RUINED ROAD - OR ROAD REPAIRS IN TRANSCARPATHIA
The "Kyiv-Chop" road is indeed being repaired - in April, the work on the road section between Mukachevo and Uzhgorod was very active. But as for other roads, road builders clearly do not live up to the expectations of Transcarpathians.
So, at the end of April, villagers arranged a picket near Mizhhirya - they blocked the state road "Khust-Dolyna", which had not been repaired... for 40 years. The villagers demanded attention to their problem from the region's leadership and road builders and received an interesting response from the head of the region.
The head of the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration Hennadiy Moskal told the picketers that the region was not responsible for this road, and the central government in its turn had not provided money for its repair this year. So, Moskal promised to personally pay the expanses for a rally near the Road Service in Kyiv to tell the central authorites about this problem.
"The residents of the nearby villages lost their patience, and they blocked the road. It is more of a symbolic measure, since hardly anyone is driving on the road, but it shows the first failures of the road reform. Since neither the regional nor the Mizhhirya district state administrations are responsible for the road, I am asking the Prime Minister of Ukraine to order the management of the Road Service and the Ministry of Infrastructure to go to the protesters and explain when the repair will begin. Otherwise, I will personally pay the travel expenses for people to come to Kyiv and picket the Ukrainian Road Service."
At the same time, Hennadiy Moskal said that of all the Transcarpathian roads, which are on the balance sheet of the Road Service, 170 million had been allocated only for the repair of the main international route "Kyiv - Chop". Not a single penny was allocated for other roads.
- In order to somehow save the situation, we decided to use for the repair of roads the funds from the "road experiment". But the Ministry of Finance left the region only 53 million for the repair of the state road "Mukachevo - Rohatyn" (the work there has already begun), - Moskal said. - The situation on many other state roads is frankly catastrophic. Thus, on the road "Dolyna - Khust" with a total length of 128.8 kilometers (83.8 km within Transcarpathia), no major or medium repair has been carried out for 40 years! This year, the Road Service did not even announce a tender for its repair. Now, the road, especially from Mizhhirya to Dolyna, is not suitable for driving, bus services there have already been canceled.
DECENTRALIZATION: MOSKAL SAID "NO"
Another hot topic in April was the decentralization in the region.
As previously reported by the Ukrinform, Transcarpathian region remains the only region in the country, where long-term plan of community consolidation has not yet been adopted. There are also 5 united communities in the region, which still have not been approved by the RSA, despite the fact that the communities completed all the statutory procedures more than a year ago.
Therefore, on April 19, residents of eight villages in Uzhgorod district, who want to form Kholmok united community, rallied in front of the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration building. The villagers demanded that officials sign documents for the formation of the community - otherwise they threatened to block the international road Kyiv-Chop.
In response to their demands, residents of Uzhgorod district received a firm "no" from Hennadiy Moska, who once again used his favorite phrase "I will not let you ruin the district". (The fact is that two powerful plants are located in these villages that provide more than 50% of revenues to the budget of Uzhgorod district). Alternatively, the head of the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration offered the villagers to join to Uzhgorod city community since the new law allows to do it, and these villages are actually the suburbs of Uzhgorod.
But the position of the community is that they want to manage there separately.
"There are two facilities in our future comminity, which now account for more than 50% of the Uzhgorod district budget, - Tetyana Vachilya, the chairwoman of Kholmok village council, explains. - We are accused that by creation of the community, we will destroy the budget of the district. But in fact, if we are annexed to the city of Uzhgorod, then this money - and the planned budget of our territorial community will amount to 160 million hryvnias a year - will still go from the district to the city, but we will not be able to dispose of them," - the village chairwoman told the correspondent of the Ukrinform.
So, five days later, the villagers did block the international road "Kyiv-Chop" in Kholmok near Uzhgorod. Naturally, a traffic jam formed on the highway, so the road was unblocked in a few hours. In short, the decentralization picket gave no results. The fate of Kholmok and the four other communities remains unclear.
MURDER THAT ALMOST LED TO LYNCHING
Meanwhile, residents of the village of Nyzhnya Apsha in Tyachiv district were rallying for other reason.
On April 18, half a thousand villagers blocked the road "Mukachevo-Rohatyn" for 8 hours because of dissatisfaction with the course of the investigation in a resonant murder: a schoolboy killed his friend.
The murder happened in March. A minor boy stabbed his friend with a knife in his own home. The guy was detained, he was notified of being suspected under Part 1 of the Article 115 of the CCU (deliberate murder), the court sentenced him to two months in custody for the time of the investigation - but two weeks later, under the decision of Uzhgorod City and District Court, the suspect was released under house arrest.
After seeing the murder suspect walking around the village freely in broad daylight, residents of Nyzhnya Apsha almost lynched him - the boy was taken by the police just in time. A week later, the teenager was taken into custody again - by the decision of the Court of Appeal of Transcarpathian region at the request of the prosecutor's office. The investigation in this case is currently ongoing.
SAKURA BOOM AND SCANDAL
Despite the high tension in the public life of the region, in April Transcarpathia entered the flowering season.
It started on Easter with the saffrons in Kolochava, the village of 10 museums. Then, in mid-April, sakuras started blooming in Transcarpathia. It was followed by the scandal about the right to be called the sakura capital of the region.
This year, regional tourism experts of Transcarpathia granted this title to Mukachevo - according to their information, this city currently has the largest number of sakuras (more than 6 thousand trees), the longest sakura alley (more than 1,3 km long) is located there, as well as the oldest sakura in the region and the one that blooms the earliest.
The title was taken away from Uzhgorod, which had officially held the title of the sakura capital previously, because last year the city authorities had initiated the cutting of 12 old trees in the historic city center.
But the scandal came to an end once the sakura flowering season finished and other "stars" started to blossom. Those are glycines and lilacs in the cities and the Derenivka arboretum, narcissi in the Narcissus Valley near Khust. They will be followed by irises in Derenivka, tulip trees in Uzhgorod, lavender in Uzhgorod castle, poppy field near Uzhgorod...
100 TREES ON THE OCCASION OF THE UKRINFORM'S 100TH ANNIVERSARY
And, among other things, April in Transcarpathia became the month of planting campaign in Transcarpathian forests.
- On April 27, 10 forestry enterprises of Transcarpathia completed the planting campaign within the framework of the All-Ukrainian action "The future of the forest is in your hands", - Valeriy Murha, the head of the Transcarpathian Regional Forestry Department said. - In particular, the employees of state forestry enterprises have finished the afforestation in Beregovo, Velyky Bychkiv, Mukachevo, Volovets, Perechyn, Khust, Dovhe, Uzhgorod, Svalyava and Velyky Berezny state forest farms. The reforestation plan is fulfilled at 66% or 1323 hectares. As a result of the campaign, 42.9 hectares of forest crops were created in Transcarpathia, over 2000 people were working on it.
During the reforestation campaign in Transcarpathia, the Ukrinform correspondents planted an alley with linden and chestnut trees in one of Uzhgorod parks - 100 trees in honor of the 100th anniversary of the agency. The alley was named in honor of the journalits' colleague Oleg Zadoianchuk who was killed in the ATO zone.