Local People Successfully Resisting the Renting of Pripyat River

6.12.2017 - Mazyr

Pripyat is for most residents of Mozyr, the city in Gomel Region of Belarus, and surroundings the main resting place. Most of the inhabitants of the regional center and nearby villages rest their whole lives on Pripyat because of their low incomes. However, in April 2017, information about the decision of the government to lease the Pripyat river appeared. According to the rules of fishing, approved by Presidential Decree No. 580, potential tenants were offered free spaces - 91 km of the river itself (excluding the site in the city) and adjacent floodplains with a total area of ​​302.6 hectares. The winner was promised a contract for 10 years at a very democratic price: slightly less than 2800 rubles for 1 km. The winner of the auction became the Belarusian Society of Hunters and Fishers.

For the first time in the history of Belarus 91 kilometers of river were leased


The news about leasing Pripyat caused resentment of local residents, primarily fishermen, as well as activists of social movements. In recent years, due to dry summers and small amounts of snow, the water level in Pripyat has fallen dramatically, even shipping has been canceled. Local people were afraid that renting would be misused as legalized poaching and the number of fishes would decrease dramatically. They could still remember the previous attempts to organize commercial fishing in Pripyat in 2014 when numerous evidence of violations of the law appeared. Local people for instance saw how workers used electric current to tase fishes. The amounts of benefits seemed not  to be comparable to the damage the renting could cause to people and nature. The local fishermen were also indignant at the idea of regulation of amateur fishing up to 5 kilograms of catch per day and penalties in case of exceeding the permitted number.

More than 3 thousand signatures against the renting of rivers

After the unofficial leader of the protest movement Dmitry Bogachev organized a collective appeal to the local regional executive committee, more than 3 thousand people signed a petition against the delivery of 91 km of Pripyat for rent. After the numerous appeals of fishermen, the Security Council announced the signing of Decree No. 247 by the President in July 2017. The document, in particular, establishes the procedure for leasing lakes, natural reservoirs and land plots to lease, while the lease of watercourse sections - rivers and canals - has been removed from the list.

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