Open Letter from Ukrainian Ecologists:

Kyiv Faces Ecological Threat if Eurovision Festival Goes Ahead on Trukhaniv Island

To environmentalists, to the Ukrainian diaspora, to followers of the Eurovision Song Festival, and to all those who so recently cheered on the "Orange Revolution" which swept Ukraine:

As is well known, the finales for this year's Eurovision festival are to be held in the city of Kyiv, capital of Ukraine, from the 12th through the 23rd of May. Ukrainians, and Kyivans especially, are honoured to host a festival of such international scope and significance.

What is less well known, however, is that in the rushed planning leading up to the festival, Kyiv City Council has chosen the ecologically sensitive Trukhaniv Island as the site for a "tent city," anticipated to house 15,000 festival visitors.

Ecologists and urban activists, including the National Ecological Center of Ukraine (NECU) and the Kyiv Ecological and Cultural Center, have raised vocal complaints against this decision for several reasons:

Trukhaniv Island is one of the environmental jewels of Kyiv.

The 508 hectare island, which is located in the Dnipro river north-east of the city center, includes populations of numerous rare animal and plant species, many officially protected by Ukraine's "Red Book," as well as plant association listed in Ukraine's "Green Book." Researchers from the Ukrainian National Institutes of Botany and Zoology have appealed to city authorities to protect parts of the island as a nature preserve. The Eurovision Festival will not only disrupt ecological communities; it also happens to coincide with the nesting seasons of numerous bird species and the spawning seasons of fish and amphibians.

Trukhaniv Island is also notable for its historical value. The island is the site of the Ukrainian Cossack fleet's victory over the Lithuanian army in 1651. According to data from the Ukrainian National Institute of Archaeology, the island also contains remains of as yet unstudied settlements from Kyivan Rus'. Failure to protect these sites would constitute a blow against the study of Kyiv's cultural history and the heritage of the nation.

It is certainly an honour for Kyiv to host the Eurovision Festival, and we would be most eager to share this honour. However, this would require finding a more appropriate location for the tent city.

As an alternative location, we have proposed the Chaika Sports Centre, a facility used during the visit of Pope John-Paul II to Kyiv. We have urged Kyiv City Council to reconsider its decision about the location, but the council has thus far not responded to our requests. Should this decision not be reversed, the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine, the Kyiv Ecological and Cultural Center, and associated groups are prepared to organize demonstrations against the Trukhaniv Island tent city prior to and during the course of the festival.

We therefore reach out to the international community to support our plea on behalf of Kyiv's Trukhaniv Island. We urge you to raise your voices and share your concerns about this potential tragedy by writing to . . . .

Mayor O. Omelchenko

01044, Ukraine, Kyiv, Khreschatick 36

President of Ukraine

V. Yuschenko

01220, Ukraine, Kyiv, Bankova 11

Prime minister of Ukraine

J. Tymoshenko

01008, Ukraine, Kyiv, Grushevskogo 12/2

Vice-Premier of Ukraine of humanitatian questions

N. Tomenko

01008, Ukraine, Kyiv, Grushevskogo 12/2


Minister of culture and arts of Ukraine

O. Bilosir

01030, Ukraine, Kyiv, Franka 19

Head of the Standing Committee for ecological questions of Kyiv City Council

D. Karabaev

01044, Ukraine, Kyiv, Khreshatik 36

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