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Zhytomyr Oblast: a Meeting Place of Military Potential and Light Industry, a Cornucopia of Subsoil and Forestry

Zhytomyr Oblast: a Meeting Place of Military Potential and Light Industry, a Cornucopia of Subsoil and Forestry

On the 20th of September my team and I visited the cities of Zhytomyr and Berdychiv in Zhytomyr Oblast. 

I met with Volodymyr Fedorenko, Chairman of the Zhytomyr Regional Council, who talked to me about plans and forecasts for the region’s development, and made me feel optimistic for its future. 

Here are just a few of their initiatives: 
  • Building a cartridge factory in Zhytomyr, which will supply our army with much-needed ammunition
  • The creation of a hub for light industry (possibly in Novohrad-Volynskyi) 
  • The construction of an InterCity train line to Zhytomyr
  • The opening of Zhytomyr International Airport, which few believed would even be built 

I hope that all the ambitious plans of the local authorities will come true as quickly as possible!

My visit coincided with good news in the Chairman’s personal life: Volodymyr Fedorenko’s son was born. Congratulations!

We visited the Berdychiv Clothing Factory. Here they sew garments for brands including Marco Polo, Gant, Hakket, Lacoste and others. The workers create over 24,000 coats a year!

The factory is owned by Frenchman Gerard Losson, who takes good care of renovating the equipment and the premises. The workers are provided with everything except, unfortunately, a good salary. The average wage of a seamstress there is around 10,000 hryvnias a month, whilst one of the jackets they create can cost up to 900 euros. I believe the government pays too  little attention to the development of light industry, and so when the next parliamentary session begins in September I will present a bill addressing this issue. 

We also spoke with soldiers of the 26th Artillery Brigade.

The unit was involved in heavy fighting in Donbas, and although barrel artillery is not currently in use in the combat zone, our soldiers are always ready! As the unit’s badges state, cannons are the last argument of kings. 

I also learnt about the problems faced by the unit. Unfortunately, there are quite a few of them:

  • Pay: unfortunately, the current sum earned by the soldiers is too low. Because of this many combat soldiers, sergeants and officers resign, and training new artillerymen is a long and difficult process. 
  • Practically all of the unit’s buildings are in need of repairs, particularly the storage facilities for weapons and equipment but also the sports complex.  The roofs are leaking, the walls are crumbling and the swimming pool is out of order. Renovation will require a significant, though not exorbitant, amount of money. However, the unit can not do this alone; they require permission from the Ministry of Defence, which is not allocating the necessary funds.
  • Rearmament: Ukraine does not currently manufacture barrel artillery or the ammunition for it. Much was lost in the war and in warehouse fires. We need to launch a programme aimed at rearming our Rocket Forces and Artillery, and using NATO munitions at that. The cartridge factory in Zhytomyr is a good start, but we also need factories for cannons, shells and much more. 

Zhytomyr Oblast made a great impression, with its history, its businesses and the determination of the local authorities to develop the region. I recommend a visit! 

At the end of our trip we visited the Jewish cemetery in Berdychiv, and flipped through the pages of the city’s Jewish history. 

Just be careful: if you travel to Zhytomyr Oblast you might end up falling in love and getting married, just like Honoré de Balzac!
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