Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj

Illegal Coal Mines Blight Ukraine's Landscape

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    Igor repairs a cable that’s used to pull coal to the surface, from about 350 meters deep, at the opening of a mine shaft on Oct. 18. The mine, which is illegal, is located in the Davydovka settlement near the eastern Ukrainian city of Torez, the same settlement where two miners died in an accident at an illegal mine two days earlier.

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    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj
  2. 2

    Ludmyla Kalinovsky, 64, drops trash into the gaping mouth of a defunct kopanka, or illegal coal mine, across the road from her home in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Alla, 76, stands in the doorway of a small trailer where she lives, without running water or electricity, working as a security guard on a plot of land where an illegal coal mine was set up, but is inactive.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Konstantin Lekhodimov, a coal miner and priest in the Evangelical Christian Baptist Church, sits for a portrait at his home in Shakhtarsk. He was recently injured while working in an official mine, but in the past has also worked in illegal mines.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Nikita takes a cigarette break while working at an illegal coal mine in Davydovka.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Khrystina Tishchenko mourns over the body of her brother Andrey Kandourov, a day after he was killed while working at a kopanka in Davydovka in the coal mining region of eastern Ukraine.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Valentina Kandourova holds a picture of her son Andrey Kandourov, three days after his death at age 44.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    Zinaida Trofimova’s home was damaged after a now-defunct kopanka was dug across the road and went under her house near Snizhne in eastern Ukraine’s coal mining region. “Sometimes when I go to bed and the night is quiet, I hear the walls cracking,” she says.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek
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    The remnants of a now-defunct kopanka across the road from Trofimova’s home.

    Photograph by Joseph Sywenkyj for Bloomberg Businessweek