The story features how the Prysyvaska AH managed to stop carve-up, banish bandits and restore local infrastructure
By Dmytro Synyak
If I had the opportunity, I would have printed the story of the Pryvaska AH and distributed it to all Ukrainian hromadas, both amalgamated and not. For what happened on the coast of Syvash can be called an economic miracle, long dreamed of by large and small Ukrainian villages, settlements and cities.
In Soviet times, Western Syvash was artificially “salted” by removing fresh water from it to provide salt water to the Perekop Bromine Plant. And now it is even more salty than the glorious Dead Sea. And it has many more minerals and trace elements. In Syvash there are also microorganisms that produce carotenoids – provitamins A, powerful antioxidants beneficial to the human body.
It is useful to walk barefoot on the Syvash salty shore
“When a person takes our salt into hands, he/she becomes stronger,” assures Serhii Klishchevskyi, head of the Prysyvaska AH. “We have repeatedly tested this with simple experiments.”
Syvash owner. Serhii Klishchevskyi, head of the Prysyvaska AH, in a shirt of the “right colour”
Serhii Klishchevskyi’s genealogy tree has three peoples mixed: Ukrainians, Poles and Tatars. The Ukrainians, to whom he enrolls himself, passed here every year through the Milky Way to Crimea. Hryhorivka still has many residents with Polish surnames, and one of them is Kliszczewski. Serhii became the head of the Hryhorivka village council in 2006.
“Until 2006, I was a private entrepreneur, before that I worked in various positions at the Tytan plant,” says Serhii Klishchevskyi. “Earlier, I worked as a driver in the Hryhorivka collective farm, and before that I passed my military service at the headquarters of the Odesa military district. When I came back to Hryhorivka, I noticed how much had been dismantled, broken, stolen... Carve-up had fantastic scale: in the middle of the day people sawed fruit trees in the central park and nobody stopped them. One day I threatened the village head that if he did not stop the carve-up, I would run for his post. And then my friends just double dared me: like, you said it yourself... Honestly, if I knew that I would win the election, I would not run. I did not even agitate anyone, did not meet people, only compiled my election programme, since the law required it…
Serhii Klishchevskyi took over Hryhorivka’s almost destroyed economy. People were leaving this place.
“At that time, the debts of the village council could be estimated in three “sevens”: for only salary debts, three brand new “Lada” cars – VAZ-2107 could be purchased. The village council owed three more “sevens” for tax payment. But we gave repaid all the debts. And now almost all our lands are sown. However, to make it real, I spent almost six months practically in the prosecutor's office and in courts, and at intervals dealt with various “gangs”.
When Serhii Klishchevskyi started breaking criminal schemes related to land and selling of collective farm irrigation systems for scrap metal, he incurred intimidation. He did not pay attention to it, however, just in case he bought himself several weapons, including an analogue of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, which shoots single shots.
Serhii Klishchevskyi mobilised local hunters to fight metal thieves.
The local mafia realised that they had lost considerable profits through one person, and clouds began to thicken over Serhii Klishchevskyi.
Frigate, the Soviet irrigation system in which the watering system constantly moves under the pressure of water over a huge circle. Such systems were hunted in the early 2000s by “metal seekers”. Of more than 40 systems owned by the Hryhorivka collective farm, only 10 survived. Now, for the rent of each of them, farmers pay the owners UAH 10 thousand per month.
Once, bandits burst into Mr Klishchevskyi’s office, and one of them stabbed a knife in the table in front of him.
“There were many such “meetings” at that time, and I always expressed confidence, believing that I would conquer the system. It was due to this confidence that, quite frankly, had no foundation, that I won.
Round table of the Session Hall. Once criminal gangs were breaking into it
We approach a small house. On the door I can see a red cross and inscription: “Healthcare of Hryhorivka Village”.
UAZ car of Hryhorivka. It was purchased at hromada’s own expense to participate in the oblast programme. Now the salaries of the ambulance workers come from the oblast
“These are our ambulance and emergency room!” says Serhii Klishchevskyi proudly. “Ten years ago, trees grew inside this house. At first we repaired a couple of rooms, then at the expense of UNDP purchased the equipment, and the residents collected money for insulation themselves. The first time they brought us UAH 40 thousand, and then UAH 80 thousand. But it turned out that we had enough UNDP assistance to provide insulation. So we spent the residents’ money on the renovation of the lobby, front desk and a corridor.
We are greeted by Artem Shchukin, senior paramedic of the ambulance station, covering five settlements.
Senior paramedic Artem Shchukin
“This year we had 1100 calls,” he reported. “But it is not only in the Prysyvaska AH. For the fourth year now, we have been included in the oblast fast ambulance tracking system. We now reach the farthest point of our area of responsibility in 22 minutes, and this in case of bad road conditions. And if our ambulance unit is busy, a car from a neighbouring hromada will serve the call.
Work at Hryhorivka health post
The village council quickly restored water supply by developing a water supply programme and attracting UNDP grant money and project funds of the rayon budget for its implementation – a total of UAH 118 thousand.
New solid fuel boiler of Hryhorivka health post
“When the Norwegian Ambassador first came to us, rayon and oblast scolded me,” says Serhii Klischevskyi. “It turned out that I should warn the top officials about such visits so that they could prepare for the meeting, mobilise special services... And now, after amalgamation, so many foreign guests come to us that I would be tired of reporting this up. But fortunately, we no longer have that kind of obligation with decentralisation, and I can talk to rayon and oblast officials on an equal footing.”
What would you propose?
The decision to amalgamate in the Prysyvaska AH occurred overnight. In the evening, the debate concluded that it was not worthwhile to amalgamate, and the next day we already voted in favour of amalgamation.
There were also those who lost their profits from various illegal schemes after amalgamation. These people were offered a choice.
“We have set a number of conditions, I told how I would press those who profit from the weakness of the local self-government system,” Mr Klishchevskyi says. “I warned: “Either you get a fair balance of money and fair game rules, or a war with me.” And they gave up.”
In the session hall
At the end of 2016, 3 more village councils and 4 villages joined Hryhorivka.
Hryhorivka now initiates accession of neighbouring non-amalgamated villages.
The Prysyvaska AH wants to protect itself from joining the rayon centere... by extension. According to Serhii Klishchevskyi, when the hromada has 10 thousand residents and occupies most of the rayon, no one will adjoin it.
Another way to save the AH is to develop the economy and tourism.
To be continued...
The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE
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