Scores of Russian media featured stories last week based on a blog by a former Ukrainian MP from the disgraced Regions Party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, claiming that the southern Ukrainian Kherson region was flooded because Ukraine had blocked the North Crimean water canal. In fact the photographs featured in Zhuravko’ blog are of several villages which were flooded due to unusually heavy rainfall and have nothing to do with Ukraine cutting off water to annexed Crimea.
Water blockade backfires for the Ukraine, declared the Rossiya 24 televison channel. Crimea water blockade leads to ecological catastrophe for Ukraine, Lenta.ru announced. Crimea water blockade hurts Ukraine’s economy TASS claimed. A complete fiasco, wailed Russia’s Federal News Agency . Plague and cholera threaten Ukraine because of Crimea water blockade Rossiyskyi dialog predicted.
Others claimed Ukraine was turning into a dessert, had shot herself in the foot and that the country was in mortal danger .
The source of all this doom was was one Alexey Zhuravko, a former Ukrainian MP who currently lives in Moscow and often comments on Ukrainian events for Russian propagandist television channels. Zhuravko declared that the recent flooding in several Kherson villages was the direct result of Ukraine blocking water from reaching Crimea, that Kherson villages were threatened with disease and the entire region was facing an environmental catastrophe.
The flooded homes in the Kherson region that Zhuravko featured in his blog were taken from a video shot by a local activist and posted on Youtube on June 10. This area experienced unusually heavy rains in the beginning of June leading to the flooding of many households, including the village that Zhuravko features in his blog.
According to Ukraine’s State Emergency Situations Department on June 6, as a result of heavy rains 150 households were flooded in Nova Mayachka village, the water is receding but many homestead plots continue to be submerged. On June 14 the Emergency Situations Department again noted heavy rains in the Kherson region leading to the flooding of several villages. The Kherson Regional Council has asked Kyiv to provide the region with funds for the construction of a new drainage system for the village which was damaged by the recent floods.
Nova Mayachka experienced similar flooding in 2010 and 2015.
The environmental catastrophes that Russian media warned about are actually happening in occupied Crimea. The peninsula’s fragile ecosystem is suffering without water, many gardens and farming plots have been abandoned because of water shortages.
The North Crimea Canal delivered water to Crimea from the River Dnipro, in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region. The canal accounted for 80% of Crimea’s water. Crimea had accumulated a huge debt for water supplied. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Ukraine cut off water to the peninsula in 2017 by way of a newly constructed dam on the North Crimea Canal.