The creation of protest sentiments in the frontline Mariupol, caused by environmental issues can be fabricated and used by politicians to fight for power. Human rights defender Vasyl Smetana claimed this on the air of 112 Ukraine.
According to the expert, protest occurs in the frontline city due to the environmental situation right before the start of the election campaign.
‘The first noticeable thing is the period of time when the exacerbation takes place. Let's put it this way: this exacerbation is happening in the lead-up to the elections, the electoral year. We have the presidential and parliamentary elections ahead, and probably, some political force is trying to earn political points. After all, we need to draw attention to the fact who organizes this and what leads them, and the real situation in Mariupol,’ he said.
Yet, according to Smetana, the environmental issues in the industrial city is not something entirely new to it. Local enterprises recognize the problem but, for some reason, the protesters who call themselves activists started it in the pre-election season.
‘I know that almost three billion hryvnias (USD 107 million, - 112 International) were spent for the environmental modernization. And the situation is getting better gradually. For example, an enterprise says 'we bought some Italian equipment, we spent more than 200 million dollars'. The situation in the city is getting better consistently. The situation wasn’t created, it is kind of retained and remained serious from the Soviet time. And against this background of improvement of the ecological situation, we see a surge of protest sentiments,’ the expert convinced.
According to Smetana, the politicians will use a variety of topics for the struggle for power in the pre-election period, and the voters' task is to distinguish the reality from fiction.
‘I am sure that they will use many different subjects. Of course, the closer to the presidential election, the more. And to parliamentary even more. Therefore, we must prepare and learn to distinguish populism from realism after all... Mariupol is a frontline city, no one knows who and how it will be used,’ the human rights defender stressed.