Володимир Довбах Volodymyr Dovbakh

* 1949

  • “Zaiets [a member of the Ukrainian parliament of several convocations] suggested that I go to the Ministry of Environmental Protection. And I started to pursue policies for the Holosiiv Forest there. A commission was established by order of the minister, the commission on Holosiiv problems. Because the agricultural academy began encroaching on the forest, cutting down trees, and taking possession of parts of it. And this commission was created. I was appointed deputy chairman of this commission. This is not a public commission, it's a ministry commission. We invited representatives of the university administration and local government to discuss issues. And there, the issue of creating a national nature park was raised, but it wasn't until Yushchenko [former Ukrainian President] came to power that it was created. Yushchenko took 10 hectares of it. The park was created 10 times smaller than what I had drawn on the map. The idea of the park was that it would be a national park of natural reserves, which would allow for environmentally friendly economic activity”.

  • “In these two years [after the Chornobyl accident], many things have certainly changed. But the main thing is that I have changed. Thanks to these changes, when I returned, I was deciding what social activity to engage in upon returning to Kyiv. We didn't return entirely on our own will either. Banditry started in the mountains because of Karachay-Cherkessia. That was the end of the Union. The question was what to do. The first thing that interested me, of course, was political activity. Especially the issue of language, Ukrainian identity as such. Because we were in Kuban. We were in a village that was founded 112 years ago, precisely during the resettlement from the Poltava and Chernihiv provinces, the Stolypin resettlement. With the Cossacks who didn't want to let new Ukrainian settlers in, although they themselves were Kuban Cossacks, as they called themselves. Because they had already been heavily Russified. One of the directions I wanted to engage in as a public figure was the issue of language, the development of Ukraine. Something like that. And the second issue. Of course, post-Chornobyl – an environmental one. The environmental direction prevailed. I joined the environmental movement. And this issue continues to this day”.

  • “After finishing university, I worked at the department, but not directly there. A laboratory was created to complete a research project, so called state topic, money were taken by the lecturers, but the work wasn’t completed. So, they created a scientific research laboratory that could do it, with graduates. We did it in the end, we reported on the work that hadn't been done and did it excellently. I didn't know what it was then. Later, it turned out that these were the circumstances of creating the laboratory itself.”

  • “There were no excessively pro-Ukrainian or anti-Soviet expressions in the family, and there couldn't be. We, of course, listened to the “enemy voices” quietly. I wasn't involved in it, I just listened on my own. But my father was a communist, a front-line soldier, and a disabled person. He had experienced things that I didn't know about until his death. Specifically, what was described in Dudintsev's “White Robes”. There it was about cucumbers, and for him it was about wheat. The persecution of scientists who were engaged in the transformation of nature. Michurins attacked geneticists. The famous academician Lysenko. This is a stumbling block. My father defended his doctoral thesis, but it was never recognized, despite his defense. The Higher Attestation Commission in Moscow did not allow it. He fought for decades until his death to have his dissertation recognized as a doctoral thesis. Moscow did not allow it precisely because he could not but mention Lysenko in his dissertation, could not but quote him. Otherwise, dissertations were not written at that time. And when he defended it, things changed - Lysenko became an enemy of the people. They did not forgive him for those words, although the dissertation itself was also on the verge of Lysenkoism because it dealt with the impact of external conditions on the varietal qualities of wheat seed material. Obviously, such an impact should exist. You get it as you grow it. The quality of such material is ordinary. This is not a question of heredity, which was the focus of genetic problems. What is important - upbringing or origin?" Ideology in this family was always rather difficult”.

  • “My greatest achievement in my professional and perhaps public life is the act of monitoring compliance with environmental legislation in the agro-industrial complex. More specifically, it was within the Ministry of Agricultural Policy at the time. A joint commission was created, and I had to coordinate its activities, even though I was no longer working there and had to do it on a voluntary basis with the “Green World” organization. The act was signed on a significant date, which I consider to be the beginning of the end of that world. Signing such an act in that world, in the post-Soviet world, or rather, in the still Soviet world at the time... [although] Ukraine was already independent... was impossible. The act is 44 pages long and describes all the insane dangers that the development of the agro-industrial complex posed in that direction, in which it was developing then and now, including land reclamation and chemicalization - for the soil, for future generations, and for nature as a whole. All representatives of all departments signed it. The act was sent to the heads of state. At that time, it was Prime Minister Yushchenko, and in the Verkhovna Rada, the “greens” were ruling. The Chairman of the Committee on Environmental Policy and the Chornobyl Disaster, Yurii Ivanovych Samoilenko, even handed over this act to the Security Service of Ukraine to check for any forgeries, lies, or fakes. He was told that everything was correct and true. But things haven’t budged an inch. Moreover, land reclamation was being developed. They even created a special department, combining it with fish, where I also had to supervise and conduct checks on the Azov Sea while I was in the ministry, where battles are currently taking place. Or maybe there are no more battles in that sea any more. They should be taking place, though... Concerning a check of the state of fisheries. A separate, as they say, story, a separate novel. Adventures with the seizure of tools for barbaric fishing - with hooks for sturgeon - on a trawler owned by this fisheries department. A very interesting fact. We are descending from the deck for lunch, and I ask the chief fish inspector of Ukraine (it was Kliemientyev): “What is shining there?” There is such a gap between the deck and the superstructure, about 50 centimeters high, no more, and something is shining there. “What is shining there? Captain, come here”. The captain comes. “Take it out”. He takes it out. And there is such a rare net with hooks in it. The captain was removed from the fisheries protection system. So we had such interesting cases”.

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    Kyiv, 30.12.2022

    duration: 02:46:23
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Humanity needs to return to thinking

Volodymyr Dovbakh during an interview.
Volodymyr Dovbakh during an interview.
photo: Post Bellum Ukraine

Volodymyr Andriiovych Dovbakh was born on October 26, 1949, in Kyiv into a family of agronomy scientists. In 1967, he graduated from Kyiv school №116 with Ukrainian-language education and entered the Ukrainian Agricultural Academy (now the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine), where he studied economic cybernetics. During his studies, he became an active member of a tourist club. From 1972, he worked at the Branch Laboratory of the Department of Economic Cybernetics of the Agricultural Academy. Later, he worked at the Computing Center of the Ministry of Procurement of the Ukrainian SSR, where he developed automated management systems. In 1986, due to the consequences of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, he became an environmental emigrant. After returning to Kyiv, he joined the public environmental resistance movement. He became a co-founder of the “Holosiiv Rescue Union” and an active member of the Ukrainian Environmental Association “Green World”. From 1992 to 1999, he headed the Department of Environmental Safety of the Agro-Industrial Complex at the Ministry of Environmental Protection. In 2023, he is the head of the commission on village ecology issues at the Ukrainian Environmental Association “Green World”.