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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

“Orphan” harvest

Peasants from a village in Vinnytsia region “expropriated” a squatter’s harvest to help soldiers in the ATO area
20 August, 2014 - 17:52

Lands of a defunct military base, which had been located in the village of Dzyhivka, Yampil raion of Vinnytsia oblast (near the border with Transnistria), were used by a squatter for 13 years. A former businessman just seized 330 hectares and went on to grow there cereals, including corn. District and village activists long tried to break the corruption scheme and celebrated a qualified victory last year. The local tax inspectorate came to grips with the issue, deciding to confiscate the harvest. The activists’ effort to get prosecutors involved and bring the case to the trial failed, because the other party never even appeared, so there has been no official statement on who owned crops harvested there throughout these years. Some laborers were just getting there, working in the fields, and leaving. Even after activists and journalists started their investigation that resulted in taxmen confiscating the harvest, most locals were just watching the developments from the sidelines.

Aware of their impunity, these squatters (as they are called in Dzyhivka), sowed the fields this year as well. The land brought good harvest of corn and wheat once again. However, peasants felt keenly their own involvement in the fate of the country like never before, especially since a hundred young men from the village are serving in the ATO area, particularly in the 9th and Aidar battalions. The latter unit’s commander Serhii Melnychenko served at the Dzyhivka military base once. Therefore, a recent village meeting decided to harvest the crops, sell them and use the proceeds for the ATO needs. The squatters, however, tried to preempt the peasants by urgently sending harvesting equipment to end the work earlier and thus steal the grain, but the locals blocked the road for the harvesters and forced the squatters to dump all the grain in their vehicles, which was then stored at another farmer’s granary. Vinnytsia self-defense came to the peasants’ aid as well.

People decided to use the proceeds to buy helmets, body armor and other combat gear and bring it to their countrymen in the two battalions. As much as 180,000 hryvnias were at stake. An initiator of the showdown with the illegal harvest’s owners, author of investigative articles on this issue, civic activist and journalist Vasyl Kizka came back recently from the ATO area, in particular from the Aidar battalion’s zone. He, along with other activists from Tulchyn People’s Council, accompanied the shipment of necessary gear, goods and groceries into the warzone, as they helped the armed forces. Kizka said that the battalion had not yet received the Dzyhivka shipment, meaning that it was probably still on the way.

Chairman of Dzyhivka Village Council Oleksandr Yurchenko eschews involvement in the issue, explaining that such a move was the decision and will of the community, and he is not going to somehow correct it.

Meanwhile, residents of Dzyhivka have another goal as well, aiming to eventually repair at least one barrack and breathe new life into the former military base. It is now clear that the revival of military presence near the Transnistrian border is more important than ever before.

By Tetiana PARKHOMCHUK, Vinnytsia oblast