News / Europe

Poor Economy Forces Ukraine Miners into Illegal Operations

Poor Economy Forces Ukraine Miners into Illegal Operationsi
X
Patrick Wells
March 26, 2014 11:33 PM
The Donbass coal field in eastern Ukraine is a huge reserve that once made this region one of the most powerful in the former Soviet Union. But with the collapse of the Soviet empire, industrial production has declined, forcing many local people to find work in dangerous illegal coal mines. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Patrick Wells
— The Donbass coal field in eastern Ukraine is a huge reserve that once made this region one of the most powerful in the former Soviet Union.  But with the collapse of the Soviet empire, industrial production has declined, forcing many local people to find work in dangerous illegal coal mines.
 
Under the crumbling industrial landscape of eastern Ukraine, many are forced to scratch a living out of the earth in illegal coal mines like this one.  

There are thousands of illegal mines across this region that operate without licenses or safety checks, and miners say with the complicity of local police, organized crime groups and politicians.
 
Some pits are 300 meters deep and lack adequate support and ventilation.  Miners stack the coal into carts pulled up to the surface on these pulleys.  The men often work without safety equipment, insurance or any hope of a pension.  Some say hundreds of miners perish under the earth each year.
 
“Every week we have accidents.  Two weeks ago on our part of the mine there was an accident, one guy died and another became an invalid.  Almost every day I hear news of accidents in different mines where somebody was wounded or killed," said illegal miner Valera Mardanenitsa.
 
Like many others, Valera lost his job at a state run mine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  As the Donbass region went into economic free-fall, he turned to drink and crime, and spent more than 10 years in prison.  Now illegal mining is the only work he can find.
 
“I could go to the state mine, but I would have to pay $400 for a job and I might then be fired any time in the future," he said.
 
He can earn around $18 a day, but because the industry is unregulated, sometimes his bosses do not pay him at all.
 
"Owners often lie to workers, I know a team who were paid less and less each week they worked, and eventually they had to leave their jobs," he said.
 
Cheap coal from illegal pits now supplies up to 12 percent of Ukraine’s total output and is undercutting state owned mining, an outmoded industry that is heavily subsidized and estimated to be losing more than $120 million a year.
 
And while officials in Europe and the United States worry about a possible Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, many here cannot see what assets Russia would hope to gain.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid