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Technoprivod lawsuit against environmental NGO (re defamation, Ukraine)

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In January 2020 Technoprivod Invest Group, a subsidiary of Austrian company Kronospan, filed a lawsuit against Ecoclub, an environmental NGO, in Ukraine alleging defamation in relation to an environmental analysis report concerning the negative impact a proposed wood processing plant would incur. The case is ongoing.

Factual Background 

In January 2020, Ecoclub, an environmental NGO,alerted the public through various social media outlets to a number of potential negative environmental impacts of a planned wood processing factory to be built in the village of Horodok, in the Rivine region of Ukraine by Technoprivod Invest Group, a subsidiary of the Austrian company Kronospan.

Even though the regional authorities approved the Horodok facility’s environmental impact assessment (EIA), an analysis released by Ecoclub found the factory could exceed the allowed levels of formaldehyde concentration in the air. Additionally, Ecoclub raised concerns that toxic waste from the plant could be sent to local municipal landfills and that the EIA does not sufficiently cover alternative  plans to remediate or mitigate the damage.

 

Legal Argument

Technoprivod Invest Group is suing Ecoclub for alleged defamation arising out of the NGO’s campaigning efforts against the planned wood processing factory.

Ecoclub denies the accusations of defamation. “Kronospan wants to make money by polluting our air and consuming our forests. However, when we simply comparedthe expected pollutant levels taken from the EIA Report with the safe concentrations, Technoprivod Invest Group went to court trying to collect money out of Ecoclub ‘due to damage to business reputation’. Local residents who will breathe formaldehyde from the planned enterprise expect completely different behavior from a responsible investor,” statedAndriy Martynyuk, Executive Director of Ecoclub.

 

Legal Proceeding

In February2020,Technoprivod Invest Group filed a lawsuit against Ecoclub, alleging defamation. Technoprivod Invest Group is calling on Ecoclub towithdraw its informationand requestingcompensation of 150 000 UAH (5000 EUR approx.) for damage caused to its reputation.

The first preliminary court hearing was scheduled for 23 March 2020, but was rescheduled for 13 April 2020 because the plaintiff did not appear in court due to the COVID-19 quarantine. On 13 April 2020, the preliminary court hearing was postponed again due to the same reason. It is now scheduled for 18 May 2020.

 

 Latest Legal News

On 18 May 2020, the first preliminary hearing was held. Technoprivod filed a petition to change the amount of compensation for the damage cause to its reputation from 150 000 UAH (5000 Euro) to 1 hryvnia (.03 Euro). The first court hearing is scheduled for 1 June. 

 

 

News

Ukranian activists taken to court by longstanding EBRD client after sounding the alarm on impacts of planned wood processing factory, CEE Bankwatch Network, 7 Apr 2020

Court Documents

Complaint filed against Ecoclub in Rivne Oblast Court, 17 May 2020

From Ecoclub

Notice from Ecoclub regarding environmental impact of wood processing plant, Ecoclub

11 tonnes of formaldehyde into air each year-estimated emissions from the planned Kronospan plant in Horodok, Ecoclub, 9 Jan 2020

Overview of the environmental impact of wood processing plant, Ecoclub, 1 Mar 2020

From Kronospan

Kronospan response regarding defamation lawsuit against Ukranian activists, Kronospan, 13 Apr 2020