Geschichte Osteuropas und Südosteuropas




Andrei Vinogradov (München)

Sweet Streams. River Pollution by Ukrainian Sugar Smelters and Trajectories of Anti-pollution Innovations in the Russian Empire

15.12.2022 14:15 Uhr – 15:45 Uhr

Oberseminar der Professur für Geschichte Russlands und Ostmitteleuropas in der Vormoderne



Die Veranstaltung findet per Zoom statt:
Meeting-ID: 998 9704 9917
Kenncode: 302314


This story describes the unusual and unexpected path taken by one of Russia’s first innovations in pollution control. Born in what was then perceived as the periphery of the empire, it was successful enough to be adopted by the Russian Government. It not only survived the Revolution of 1917 but was very close to becoming the basis of environmental policy in the early Soviet Union.

These were commissions for the sugar refineries’ wastewater treatment, which worked at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Podolsk. Already in the 1880s, water pollution by wastes of sugar beet production became a serious problem, threatening farming and peasants’ traditional way of life. At the same time, the Russian sugar industry — the only one that could compete with “colonial” cane sugar — had geopolitical importance and brought enormous profits to industrialists. Opposing such powerful corporations with weak sanitary legislation and a lack of relevant scientific knowledge had little chance of success. Nevertheless, the local communities were able to form commissions that first brought the conflicting parties together in their common desire to develop unified, understandable and feasible anti-pollution measures that did not yet exist on a national scale. Their joint work has greatly improved the national environmental policy. In my talk I will focus on the history of these commissions, the reasons for their effectiveness, and the fate of nationwide initiatives inspired by their example.