The residents of Kremenchuk, a city of 230,000 southeast of Kyiv on the Dnipro River, and its environs are up in arms over oligarch Kostyantyn Zhevago’s plans to build the Bilaniv Mining and Enrichment Combine on the Psol River in the area. According to Zhevago’s plans, about 12 villages comprising one fifth of the district’s territory would have to go to make room for the combine.
Besides opposing the displacement of thousands of villagers, the inhabitants of the region, together with community activists and scientists, fear an environmental catastrophe—ranging from the destruction of the Psol, massive air and water pollution, to permanent changes in the area’s ecological balance. The specific bone of contention is the local government’s development plan for the district, which activists say fails to safeguard the area’s environment and must be revised. The bureaucrats and Zhevago’s people say it’s fine.
The 39-year-old Zhevago is worth a few billion and has a growing mining and minerals empire in Ukraine. He controls the “Finances and Credit” group and has been a parliamentary deputy since 1998, usually as a member of the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc. Most recently, in the October 2012 parliamentary elections, he ran as an independent candidate in the town of Komsomolsk and won 60 percent of the vote. Komsomolsk happens to be the site of one of his plants, the Poltava Mining and Enrichment Combine. And his flagship company Ferrexpo is listed on the London Stock Exchange.