Toll motorway vs. Khimki Forest: Chronicles of Violence
Moscow-St.Petersburg Motorway vs. Khimki Forest: Chronicles of Violence and Unlawfulness
May 16, 2011. On a meeting of Russian Presidential Council on Development of Civil Society Institutions, all the Council members signed Ludmila Alekseeva’s open letter to Medvedev. They demanded Russian president to stop all the works, investigate all the violations of law related to the project, and switch to an alternative option for the motorway bypassing the Khimki Forest.
A few days before, similar statements were made by Amnesty International and European Parliament delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
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May 15, 2011. A group of environmental activists and representatives of Left Front tried to carry out an unauthorized rally for the Khimki Forest in front of the Kremlin. The activists were brutally detained by police and unknown men in civil clothes. They were left in a police station tonight, and released only next day.
Another action was calmer. A group of artists performed in the Khimki Forest to protest against the clearing.
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May 14, 2011. At night (about 3-00 AM) one of the participants of the environmentalists’ camp Yury Petin was assaulted apparently for no reason at all.
He was staying on the roadside of Vashutino road trying to pick a car. It was near a shop, about 1 km from the clearing. He was approached by a black Hundai sedan car with registration tag х531см or х513см (he didn’t remember exactly). Four men came out and grabbed Yury saying “You’re caught, finally!” Then they started to beat him. Yury was thrown to the ground, the men forbade to look at them threatening to beat him more.
Then the attackers were approached by a man in the Vityaz’ uniform, the attacker commanded him as though he was their subordinate.
Yury told: “It was like they instructed the PSC guy. They wanted him to say police that Yury exploded petards in the forest. Then police arrived. Police started to talk with the attackers and the security guard. Then I was brought to 2nd Police Department of Khimki, address: Khimki, Kudryavtseva str., 4”
It was about 5-30 in the morning when Yury was driven to the police station, to a duty investigator. The investigator refused to accept Yury’s statement about the attack against him. Instead, he started to accuse Yury in “exploding petards in the forest”. Then the investigator prepared a protocol by himself, asking Yury and the security guard about what had happened. Police tried to photograph Yury and take his fingerprints threatening to put him in jail otherwise. Yury refused, and spent in police few hours (till 12-00 AM). In the midday, Yury went home with a policeman to take his passport. At 1-00 PM he was back in the police station again. Then Yury was met by a second investigator who prepared a protocol that Youry was detained for violating “fire safety rules”. The investigator said that the protocol is to be passed to the fire service. He refused to hand a copy of the protocol to Yury.
“The investigator said he can do whatever he wants to me, to plant drugs or arms and put me to a prison” – Yury explained.
Yury Petin wrote a statement to the Prosecutor Office demanding to detain the attackers, and punish them as well as the policemen who refused to receive Yury’s statement about the attack against him. He also asked to find the security guard who gave the wrong testimony to the policemen.
May 13, 2011. An emergency gas service arrived to the clearing (from “Gazpromregiongaz”, a structure of Gazprom). They confirmed that there was a high-pressure (1,2 MPa) gas pipeline underground just in the center of the clearing. Any damage to the pipeline could result in a powerful explosion. Like the activists before, the emergency service failed to find any permissions for the work, including required special authorization for working in the dangerous zone near the pipeline. Basic safety rules were neglected, heavy crawler machines literally tore the ground over the pipeline. Moreover, access for emergency crews to the pipeline was blocked by fallen trees scattered chaotically on the clearing. The emergency crew issued a written order forbidding use of crawler machines or put logs near the pipeline.
It must be noticed that a tender for moving the pipeline away from the construction ground was carried out in the end of 2010. No winner was found. According to the tender, 20,000 more trees are to be cut down, including those in the oak grove. There must be no construction works before the pipeline remains in its current position.
After the emergency service left, the works were resumed. Activists tried to stop it, but police of Khimki blocked their attempts. Thus, police protected dangerous works that were directly forbidden, including continued use of the crawling machines.
A student of the Moscow State University, Ms. Anastasia Suslina asked police major Mr Shkuratov to introduce himself. He pushed her into the face instead, said she was drunken and, if she was not taken away by her parents, he would arrest her. He further commented that he had not violated any law and needed no excuse for his behavior.
After police left the scene, two groups of activists went to stop works. It was successful, the workers fled. Meanwhile, activists Aleksey Rassolov and Pavel Shekhtman (who were taken to the hospital) revealed that one PSC guard was also put to the hospital. He was looking quite healthy but affirmed that he was beaten by the environmentalists. Next day he was released quickly from the hospital.
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May 12, 2011. In the morning, the cutting down of century-old oaks started near the spring of St. George, despite the fact that the State Company Avtodor (the customer of the project) had assured that the cutting down of the oak grove would not begin. The activists tried to interfere with the cutting. An excavator and a bulldozer were used to uproot the oaks near the spring of St George.
The activists tried to stop the felling down of the trees. PSC guards again bate the people. A kneecap of one of the activists, Dmitriy Monakhov, was damaged intentionally by a well-trained strike. They also tried to steal a camera from journalist Semyon Kolobaev. People laid down before the bulldozer, trying to prevent uprooting of the trees. According to activists, people from the internal security service of the contractor began to steer the bulldozer instead of its driver without knowing properly how to do this. A fallen tree hooked and threw the people down. A tree trunk damaged a leg of Evgenia Chirikova. One of the security guards was caught and squeezed between the falling trees, only due to extreme luck he survived. A doctor in a hospital said that Chirikova now cannot walk for at least 2 days. He was indignant at the cutting down of the forest.
At the same a team of Khimki Landscaping municipal enterprise arrived to the forest with chainsaws, but the activists managed to stop them. A bulldozer continued to work under protection of policemen armed with Kalashnikovs. Major Shkuratov from the 2nd Police Department of Khimki told Suren Gazaryan, who had been beaten in the police station a day before that he would be killed if detained again: they would put the private guards to his jail.
A commission of Greenpeace Russia arrived at a place of cutting intending to calculate the amount of losses inflicted to the forest areas and to learn the scope of the illegal clearing. The policeman Sheruimov refused to introduce himself to Sergey Tsyplenkov, director of Greenpeace Russia. The police refused to stop the works. Greenpeace was unable to do anything.
The environmentalists promised to send to Dmitry Medvedev their assessment of damage, which was made to the Khimki forest by felling of trees for the highway Moscow-St. Petersburg. According to Greenpeace, some trees were cut even out of the strip of land reserved for the motorway.
About 3 p.m. two women who tried to photograph the tags on the cars near Vashutino were attacked. They were beaten with their heads against the door of a car, a gray-haired man ordered to erase their photos. Most likely, the attackers were employees of "PO Teplotekhnik" (now renamed "DorInzhStroyProekt). Garegin Alexandrovich from "Teplotekhnik" is suspected in the beating of activists.
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May 11, 2011. Near Svistukha village, a team of workers with chainsaws was noticed. The same time another group of workers started to cut down trees just near environmentalists’ camp. Activists tried to protect the trees literally with their bodies. Police interfered and detained Evgenia Chirikova and 9 other activists (7 to 15 according to different information). The command to detain the activists was given by Khimki police colonel Tsurif. According to Evgenia Chirikova: "We made a cleaning day in the forest, picked up trash, when a"Volvo" with OBOP (a special section of criminal police) appeared, accompanied by seven SUVs with unknown persons, workers with chainsaws, and PSC guards. The workers were given a command to go deeper into the forest, we ran behind them to prevent the destruction of trees. We called the police, hugged the trees covering them with our bodies. OMON (Russian riot police) arrived, we were roughly torn off from the trees - for example, I was held by five policemen. At first 15 people were seized - we were put to the workers’ bus and taken to the police station. Then two more persons were detained. My phone was taken away and I was put behind the bars as a dangerous criminal. Previously, this had not happened. Apparently, we have become incredibly annoying – since now we managed to protect the forest better. "
OMON took part in the arrest despite no permissions for the clearing were still produced. Eugenia Chirikova, Yaroslav Nikitenko, Sergey Ageev, Sergey Udaltsov, Anna Goncharova, Oleg Melnikov, and several other people were among the detained. The detainees were sent in the 2 nd Department of Police, Khimki. Other activists remained in the woods and still tried to cover the trees with their bodies. As a result, they were attacked by bandits. Later, OMON made a second attack on the defenders of the forest, and two more people were detained. These were Dmitri Smirnov and Suren Gazaryan. The detainees were placed into the trunk of a police UAZ car. On the way to the police station the driver of the UAZ stopped, then increased the speed so that the detained were hit against the sides of the car. The detained environmentalists protested, and when they were brought into the police station, police lieutenant Mr. Nozhenko hit Gazaryan with his fist into the face. Ghazarian bent out of pain, then Nozhenko delivered another blow - with a knee into his face. The environmentalists were charged under Article 19.1 of the Administrative Code "uzupation of power", which, as is written in the protocol, was expressed in the fact that Ghazarian "broke fences, signs, obstructed the work of clearing the highway." The activists spent more than three hours in the department. After his release, he was able to talk to the head of the second Police department. The Head of the Deparment calmly acknowledged the practice of the department. "I can see how impertinent you are, you had to receive another blow in the face" - Gazaryan quotes the policeman.
Cutting down continued under the direct protection of OMON. All these events took place near the ruins of a summer camp, located near the plant "Fakel." After most of the activists were taken away, the remaining were attacked. One of the victims, Daniel Beilinson, reported that shortly after the departure of OMON two girls-activists rushed to the camp, shouting for help: they were attacked in the forest. The three defenders of the forest remaining in the camp rushed to the aid of the fourth, whose phone was taken away in the forest. Daniel Beilinson: "We saw an already familiar man wearing a hood and another man, bald, dressed in black, having Caucasian appearance. We demanded that they return the phone to Alexey. Then they started to beat us - beat on the head, kicked me into the face, knocked to the ground." Then the two assailants were joined by three private guards in the uniform armed with freshly sawn clubs. Thus, four defenders of the Khimki forest were severely beaten while trying to stop illegal cutting down in the area of the plant "Fakel". These were Daniel Beilinson, Paul Shekhtman, Alexey Rassolov and Vladimir Morozov. The PSC Vityaz’ securities as well as unidentified bandits took part in the beating up of the environmentalists. An ambulance was called for the activists, which took them to the Khimki city hospital. Doctors diagnosed Alexey Rassolov and Pavel Shekhtman with a brain concussion. Shekhtman also has his nose broken with displacement. He also suffered a temporary amnesia. They were hospitalized in the Khimki city hospital.
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May 10, 2011. At 9 a.m. cutting down of the trees near Vashutino was reported. Workers, private guards and bandits were collected together. The activists met 3 workers with chainsaws and stopped the works. The workers who did not have any documents went to a bus, a PSC guard tried to return them and make them work. The PSC boss Nikolay arrived in a black SUV with registration tag т500мк197.
Later, the cutting down of trees continued but the activists managed to stop it again. Some activists were injured due to the attacks by guards from "Vityaz". A member of the Ecological Watch of the North Caucasus Suren Gazaryan and some other people were beaten. The police was called to the scene. The PSC guard itself made a false report to the police that Gazaryan himself had attacked them. The lawyer Artur Grokhovsky arrived to help Gazaryan. Suren was released within 2 hours.
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May 9, 2011. The camp in the Khimki forest continued its work. The V-Day holiday was rather calm. It became a day of cleaning the Khimki forest from the garbage. Patrolling of the Khimki forest also continued: the cutting down of the trees or construction equipment were not reported.
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May 8, 2011. A gathering of about 200 persons took place in Khimki. There were activists of Greenpeace, WWF, poitical parties and other organizations who came to protest against destruction of the forest. People acted accordingly to the law: they stood on the edge of the road, leaving a passageway, and used neither banners nor megaphones. The gathering lasted 15 – 20 minutes. The result of this open meeting was the decision of all participants to join the tent camp in the area of the ongoing felling of Khimki Forest. The people left the place of meeting and began to move toward the Khimki Forest.
Suddenly the riot police began to catch the activists in a very brutal manner causing injuries and pushing them into police bus. It must be stressed out that police had not warned the people about any illegal activity from their side or about their intention to use force. It was looking like rather another bandit attack than a police action. Oleg Prudnikov was hit into his face. Gleb Sitnikov’s knee and elbow were scratched to blood. Ildar Isayev’s elbow was hurt to blood. Many other people during this arrest suffered from hurt knees or elbows and received bruises. Evgenia Chirikova was hit in her cheek, and her neck was injured. At a whole, about 20 persons were detained, including activists Evgenia Chirikova, Yaroslav Nikitenko, Sergey Ageev, ‘Yabloko’ party chairman Sergey Mitrokhin, Moscow Soviet chairman and ‘Left Front’ leader Sergey Udaltsov as well as a group of environmental activists from Klin town. The riot police went on beating people inside the bus, without any confusion, in the presence of more than a hundred eyewitnesses. Vassily Maliy was beaten by the riot police in the police van. Udaltsov received a rib damage and numerous hematomas. Mitrokhin’s arm was displaced. The detained people were conveyed to the 2nd Police Department of Khimki.
Khimki policemen Shakhov, Sheruimov, Tsurif, Romadin and many others participated in the arrest. Mr. Goldobin was its organizer. Head of information and PR department of the Chief Office of Moscow Region Police Evgeny Gildeyev told the press that the arrested ones broke law and resisted police – though no court decision was made about it.
Police protocols were written against the detained people. The persons were charged of resistance to policemen and organization of a non-sanctioned rally (articles 19.3 and 20.2 of the Administrative Infringements Code). Police repeatedly forbade lawyers to meet with the detained activists, the policemen behavior was very rude toward the arrested persons. Since the detention they had not received medical treatment and didn’t even get water to drink. One of the activists was called out of the jail and beaten in sight of the other detained persons, afterwards he was pushed to another jail.
A group of citizens came to support the detained defenders of Khimki Forest. They started picketing the house of Khimki Police Department requesting to free the arrested activists.
Several hours later the detained activists were brought to the court. Khimki policeman Sheruimov was exposed by the activists trying to forge the protocol of detainment directly in the hall of the court.
The judge of Khimki court returned the protocols back to the police department due to multiple inconsistencies. About 17.00 the detained were freed in the court hall and went to the tent camp.
Meanwhile, another group of activists (including Greenpeace and WWF representatives) managed to escape police. They stopped an illegal clearing and set up another camp in the forest near Khimki, not far from Fakel plant. The camp became the main environmentalists’ stronghold in the Khimki Forest.
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May 7, 2011. The harvester was sent from the clearing near Sheremet’yevo to the vicinity of Vashutino village. When the activists came to the place of the second clearing near Vashutino, they found two non-working harvesters, several embarrassed private security guards and well-known strangers – members of the very gang which committed attacks. A group of policemen was called to the place. The thugs, hearing about oncoming arrival of police departed in haste leaving a lot of their belongings on the place.
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May 6, 2011. t night, the harvester was working despite many persons fighting in the dangerous zone. Securities were attacking activists and patrolling a narrow road in the forest. In the morning, the harvester approached the environmentalists’ camp with unknown intentions. 12 activists tried to block its movement. They were attacked by 13 securities and bandits. A chaotic clash happened.
Pavel Shekhtman’s cheekbone was damaged. A bandit struck Yaroslav Nikitenko in his throat and jaw. Ekaterina Drobotenko was knocked to the ground and kicked into the kidneys. Vera Lenina was hit into her jaw more than once and into the kidneys. Sergei Ageev was stunned by brass knuckles, his head was injured and bleeding. Dmitri Monakhov was beaten with a rubber hose (perhaps with a steel core inside) . Oleg Melnikov’s jaw was smashed – it was broken twice with displacement. French citizen Nikita Mikhalkov also suffered. He was a descendant of Russian emigrants who came to support the activists. The assailants hit him in the groin, resulting in a serious injury, he was sent to the hospital. Police failed to react immediately after the call of the victims. Those who had serious injures were taken to the International Highway from where an ambulance car took them to the hospital.
Finally, Senior Guard of Vityaz’ Sergei Parshin and Poice Lt. Stanislav (Ruslan?) Mironenko arrived. The policeman offered to go to the office and write a complain.The environmentalists asked him to interrogate first the guards who were beating up the activists. As soon as the defenders of the forest together with Mironenko approached the camp of PSC, ununiformed men immediately fled into the woods.
In the morning, Suren Gazaryan rode from the camp on a bike to buy food. On his way through the forest, he was attacked by five men who began to beat him. Gazaryan’s face was smashed, his bike broken. The chief thug was dressed in the uniform of Bundeswehr with the German flag on his sleeve. The other mobster was dressed as a skeleton. Local residents told the environmentalists that the bandits broke their fence and garden gate and kept running to and fro every day.
Policemen from the Chief Office of Internal Affairs of Moscow Region arrived after the call about the night attack. They intended to examine the place of the incident. Some time later a group of men was seen approaching the tent camp, and the activists recognized in them the thugs which had attacked the camp before. When the men saw the policemen, they tried to run away but one of them was caught by activists. Another one was found inside a temporary living construction. Sergey Nikolayevich Rutsev, a guard from the PSC Vityaz’ refused to show his ID card. The policeman asked him to come out from the construction, and the guard disobeyed. Two attackers were finally detained, but released within an hour.
By the midday, five tents stood in Khimki Forest near river Klyazma. About 20 persons were in the camp; among them there were representatives of the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest, the Moscow Soviet, movements ‘Left Front’, ‘Solidarity’ and ‘Alternative’, environmentalists and journalists.
Evgenia Chirikova appealed to the Chairman of the Presidential Council for Development of Civil Society and Human Rights.
Picketing of Moscow regional Prosecutor’s Office took place. An open letter was handed to the prosecutor, accusing police in the blood shed in Khimki Forest. Indeed, Khimki police department didn’t act at all, and part of the crimes became possible just because the top officers of the police department turned blind eye to the criminals. The letter included an appeal to Moscow regional prosecutor A.A. Anikin to take urgent measures to stop the violence.
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May 5, 2011. At night the activists heard a working harvester (a special machine to cut down trees) and went to stop it. They succeed, but then they were attacked by bandits (some of them wore masks) and security guards from Vityaz’. The activists were thrown onto the ground and beaten. As a result, several people were injured, including Yaroslav Nikitenko whose fingers were dislocated. Unknown people grab Oleg Kopyev’s head and bate him against a tree. It was possible to recognize some of the attackers - they had already confronted the activists in the summer of 2010. The thugs threatened the activists to be ”buried in the forest”.
Policeman Mr. Romadin arrived to the scene of the crime about two hours after the attack had begun. He stopped the clashes and ordered to stop cutting down of trees. Evgenia Chirikova went to the police department and wrote an official complain about the crime. Meanwhile, the tires of several activists’ cars were punctured by unknown attackers.
In the morning, the PSC guards encircled the camp. Cutting down was stopped near the Sheremetyevo Airport but began near Vashutino village. The activists got up in front of the machinery to block the cutting down of trees again. They were grabbed by the private guards. Two people were injured: Yaroslav Nikitenko’s ribs were squeezed and they threatened to "pull out his clavicle”, an employee of Vityaz’ hit Oleg Melnikov into the liver. Then the gangsters came to aid the private securities. One of them - in a green shirt - was recognized as the very man who smashed the face of Alexey Belykh a day before.
Police arrived about midday. The defenders of the forest asked the police to put a post to guard the camp/ Lt. Col. of police Mr. Goldobin refused. No investigation of beatings or any attempts to detain the attackers were made despite the fact that the criminals were seen again near environmentalists’ camp.
About 6:00 PM activists approached the place of illegal clearing near Klyaz’ma river where securities and bandits were also seen. A working harvester was found. Six of the bandits in civil clothes introduced themselves as a “the group of immediate response” of the PSC Vityaz’. They confronted activists and journalists in a very rude manner by pushing them and grabbing their hands clearly trying to prevent them from passing to the clearing. No fences, signs or notices were found, no papers were shown.
Journalist from Klin News newspaper Mr. Yury Samsonov was also confronted despite he wore special uniform with notices clearly designating his profession. Thus, another crime was done since preventing journalists from working is forbidden by Russian law.
Securities were co-ordinated by an ununiformed man who had been seen before by activists in similar situations. He personally threatened and offended the journalist.
Voices on video:
A thug: - Hey, “article”, I’ll just cut your ears off!
The jornalist: - Say it loud, about ears, again!
Somebody else: - Stop attack press!
The thug: - We’ll meet again!
The journalist called police and announced that unknown persons prevented him from working, and were also attacking other persons – and asked police for immediate reaction. After this call he was physically assaulted, thrown onto the ground. His camera (Kodak EasyShare Z915) was taken away. He was beaten and got multiple body injures (which required medical treatment later). Having no choice, the journalist was forced to fight back. Activists came to help and pushed attackers back. The journalist’s camera was not found at place, perhaps stolen by the attackers.
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Radio Liberty (video) http://www.svobodanews.ru/content/article/24092213.html
- http://pamjaty.livejournal.com/4774.html http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZWSZub_r1A&feature=player_embedded
May 4, 2011. A public inspection was held in order to survey the places of cutting down of the trees for the future highway. 40 people, including Evgenia Chirikova, Yaroslav Nikitenko, State Duma member (MP) G. Gudkov, activist of the Left Front S. Udaltsov went to the forest. The meeting of the public inspection with the guards from Private Security Company (PSC) Vityaz’ (which was supposedly commissioned by the destroyers of the forest from DorInzhStroyProekt – former "PO Teplotekhnik" LLC) was, to put it mildly, unfriendly. Nevertheless, the presence of MP Gennady Gudkov appeared to prevent an open clash. o permits for cutting down of trees were found by the public inspection. The guards also failed to provide their documents. They commented that they defend not the nature, just the machinery.
The activists managed to get in touch with General Director of company "PO Teplotekhnik" Alexander Semchenko. He agreed to speak with Mr. Gudkov via mobile phone. During the talk, he admitted that his company has neither permissions to perform construction works nor permissions to cut down trees.
Meanwhile, a detail of the Khimki police arrived. Evgenia Chirikova demanded them to stop the illegal destruction of the forest, since the contractors had no documents for cutting. Police lieutenant Sheruimov expresses his sympathy to the activists, but refused to accept the written act about illegal cutting from the environmentalists. Sheruimov was also very kind to Mr. Gudkov, but refused to take any real action to stop the works. After the departure of the MP, the activists and the journalists decided to set up a camp in the Khimki forest, to patrol the possible places of work and prevent further illegal cutting down of the trees.
Soon, they found another clearing where 150-year-old oaks were cut down. The further cutting down of trees was stopped, but a violent incident happened. Greenpece volunteer Aleksey Belykh together with another activist were attacked by ununiformed bandits. Mr. Belykh got a blow to the face which apparently resulted in a broken nose.
See for more details /news/n-1778/ (in Russian)
May 2, 2011. A rally took place in Paris, where the French Greens and MEPs supported the cause of Khimki forest defender. A petition demanding company Vinci to stop its involvement into the project with more than 20,000 signatures collected all over the world was passed to Director of Public Relations of Vinci Mr. Dupree. Along with the petition, an anti-corruption investigation of the specialists of Bankwatch CEE was also handed over. The investigation found offshore schemes and Russian oligarch Mr Rotenberg behind Vinci Concession Russie which is 100% owner of the project concessionaire NWCC LLC. Some other beneficiaries were hidden behind an offshore company on British Virgin Islands which is very strange for a public-to-private partnership project.
- The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/160402/russias-khimki-forest-threatened...
- The Moscow News: http://themoscownews.com/society/20110505/188645790.html
- Tax Justice Network/Nicholas Shaxton blog: http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/2011/05/russian-ppp-road-deal-is-tangled....
April, 19. Again, activists got the info that large-scale cutting down of trees in the forest resumed - despite statements of Russian company Avtodor that all the works are confined to taking away the trees that was fallen this summer. Activists of Save Khimki Forest Movement arrived at site and found clearing in process guarded by police and security forces.
The perpetrators of cutting down of trees failed to provide any permissions for this work. Nevertheless, police threatened to arrest activists in case they didn't leave the scene. Police refused to check permissions for cutting down of trees and literally joined security thugs from "Vityaz" agency. Activists were accused in an "unauthorized gathering" - a sheer nonsence, since no permission needed for gathering according to Russian law.
Police attacked activists, some of them were beaten and handcuffed. 10 persons were arrested, including Evgenia Chirikova and Yaroslav Nikitenko.
The arrested persons were imprisoned in Khimki Police Station (Khimki, Kudriavtseva str., 4). They were threatened in a very brutal way all day long, even denied to sit down or drinking. Evgenia Chirikova was undressed and searched by police, her mobile phone was taken away. Mobile phone of Yaroslav Nikitenko was also taken away, later police failed to give it back.
In the evening, all the detained persons were brought to Khimki Court. Only Nikitenko's case was heared, he was found not guilty in disobeying police. All the activists were freed, but the next day, police brought Evgenia Chirikova to the court again - but failed to formulate any meaningful accuisitions against her.
April, 16. Despite Avtodor's statements that no cutting down of trees was planned, there appeared reports about fresh clearings in the Khimki Forest. People came to stop cutting of woods, and securities attacked them. Activist Semen Kolobaev was hit in head and fell down. Mikhail Matveev had his nose and lips damaged and bleeding, blood on face and hands, a bruise on a leg. Some activists had dress torn. No permission for any works was provided. Police arrived and refused to check permissions. Later, activists managed to find and fotograph a fresh clearing in the forest. Securities tried to catch them and prevent from photographing.
April, 12. Today, Russian state company "Avtodor" tried to demonstrate its ability to re-start works in the Khimki Forest despite civic protests in Russia and abroad. Tens of jornalists were gathered by Avtodor to show them the start of the works.
All the works had been already stopped when activists reached the place. There were a few trucks loaded with tree trunks on the clearing. Few tree trunks were even unloaded back. The trunks were left from the summer, no new clearing were carried out. Nevertheless, activists demanded to demonstrate any permissions for works or for taking away the wood. It was done because we consider the falling of trees this summer as a criminal case, and any attempts to hide the evidence must be stopped, even outside the Khimki Forest. The workers failed to provide the permissions though the permissions must be available at the site of works according to the legislation. Meantime, it was found out that Teplotekhnik, the very company which hired the Neo-Nazis is still working on the project. Then activists addressed police asking them to interfere and find out who those workers were and ask their permissions. Police refused to interfere. Activists submitted an official complain about police inaction. Fortunately, no direct violence occured this time.
March 4, 2011. Denis Solopov, one of the participants of the action against the Khimki forest being cut down and against the local authorities' abuse of power, that took place on July 28, 2010 by the Khimki town hall, was arrested by the criminal investigation department officers in Kyiv. His brother Maksim Solopov was already arrested for about 3 months - without even proper consideration of his case in court. Several months ago United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kyiv recognized Denis as a political refugee. Nevertheless, Kyiv court sanctioned his arrest for 40 days. Denis Solopov's possible extradition to Russia would be a gross violation of international law.
In February and March, 2011 police activity in intimidating clients of Chirikova and Matveev's business was re-activated despite an official statement of the Deputy Minister of Interior affairs that such activities were finished. For example, in St. Petersburg, an officer of the St. Petersburg Central District Police Department, Mr. Kopylov, informed one of the clients that there is a criminal case against the company.
February 22, 2011 The State Guardianship and Khimki Police tried to launch a procedure to deprive Evgenia Chirikova of her children. A printed unsigned paper allegedly authored by her neighbours about Chirikova’s “cruelty” toward the children was used as a pretext. The first check showed that the neighbours did not write such a paper, and they denounced all the allegations in it. Therefore, the case was clearly a deliberate distribution of false compromising information (a criminal offence according to Russian law!). Nevertheless, next day the guardianship still tried to prosecute Evgenia. A squall of calls and petitions from outraged people has apparently made them to stop the attempt. Nevertheless, Khimki police tried to enter Chirikova’s apartment on February 27 and March 1.
February 11 , 2011. Alla Chernishova who is the chief editor of the environmentalists’ website was surprisingly arrested by Khimki police and taken to the police station together with her 4 and 6 year old children. She was subjected to an extensive interrogation for several hours. She was treated in a very rude manner, policemen threatened to deprive her of her children and to imprison her – demanding her to give testimonies that the “dummy bomb” was planted by her and Evgenia Chirikova. Alla refused to give false testimony. She was finally released without any official charge. Nevertheless, the press-service of Moscow District police distributed an official statement claiming directly that she was guilty in planting the dummy bomb. Later, the police statement was denounced by activists at a press conference, and challenged in court as defamation.
February 1 , 2011. Police broke up a meeting for the protection of a green zone near the Moscow Canal from “development”. A pretext of a “bomb threat” was used to push people away from the site. There was a parcel on the ground that allegedly contained a dummy bomb. Some witnesses later said that the parcel was left by a suspicious-looking man.When a witness on site pointed policemen towards this man as a possible criminal, a policeman said “impossible, that’s our man”.
January 15 2011. Four activists were arrested by Khimki police after a peaceful meeting in Khimki Forest. Ununiformed policemen attacked the activists using force, and threatened to use firearms. No any reason for arrest was specified. Later, police tried to accuse them of “unlawful election agitation” – though no election was taking place in this period! Due to strong public pressure in Russia and abroad, the activists were released uncharged.
December 22. Evgenia Chirikova was detained by Moscow police for a peaceful flashmob action near the Presidential Administration. Later, a Moscow court found that Chirikova did not break the law.
Another wave of repression was started after the “final decision” of the Russian Government to go on with the initial option of the motorway through the Khimki Forest was announced on December 14 2010.
December 2. Some Internet users in Khimki reported that the “Telinkom” internet provider had blocked access to the forest defenders’ website www.ecmo.ru.
October, 21 The perpetrators of the project organized a meeting in Moscow in favour of the construction of the road through the forest. A journalist from Grani-TV managed to capture the very moment when the “supporters” of the destruction of the forest got their money for participating!
August – December 2010 The company organizing the cutting down of the Khimki Forest PO Teplotekhnik submitted claims for 9,000,000 rubles to Savelovsky court in Moscow. The suit was filed against Khimki forest defenders and journalists. The company accused them of preventing the competion of the felling of Khimki forest, which meant a partial loss of profit for Teplotekhnik. Despite the legal claim's inconsistency, judge Mrs. Yurova accepted the claim for examination.
Representatives of Teplotekhnik used this claim as a way of putting pressure upon activists, declaring readiness to withdraw the suit in exchange for a promise not to interfere with further cutting. Meanwhile, an audit of the Moscow city court revealed a set of infringements in the activity of Savelovsky court and, in particular, of judge Yurova. It has been widely suggested in the media that the infringements may have included 'sponsored' sentences.
The court hearings revealed some shocking details. It was found out that PO Teplotekhnik had an annex to the contract with its state customer (Federal State Office “Roads of Russia” – FGU Dorogi Rossii) which effectively put it outside of the law. For example, Teplotekhnik was obliged to proceed with the works ignoring not only civil protests of any kind, but also lawful (sic!) orders of governmental bodies if those orders were aimed at stopping the clearing of the forest.
Finally, the lawsuit was withdrawn by Teplotekhnik itself – perhaps due to its obvious deficiencies.
November 6 Two unknown persons attacked journalist Oleg Kashin near his house in Moscow. Kashin is a very well-known journalist of the newspaper “Kommersant” who wrote an article about the anti-fascists’ action at the Khimki administration. Kashin received numerous serious injuries: concussion, broken shins, and a torn off finger phalanx . The attackers resembled 'football fans' according to Kashin himself. Later, unofficial information appeared that police had tried to turn the case into a “domestic conflict”.
November 4 Khimki opposition activist and supporter of the Movement to Protect Khimki Forest Konstantin Fetisov was beaten by a baseball bat at the entrance of his house. With severe brain injuries he was taken to hospital. He was in coma for a long time, and as of 1 March 2011 is still not speaking. This was the second attack against him. The first one a few weeks before resulted in a broken jaw.
Khimki Police initially didn't even try to begin an investigation or even to take and study the weapon that was left on site. An investigation was begun only after the attack received publicity in the central mass media, and a group of human rights lawyers and celebrities addressed President Medvedev.
As a result, some suspected criminals were arrested. A middle-rank bureaucrat from Khimki Administration is among them. There are serious doubts that he could act without authorization from the very top of his administration. Nevertheless, all the top figures in the administration have remained in their positions.
October 10 Activist Sergey Ageev was unlawfully detained during an environmentalist meeting in Khimki. Police also tried to arrest Evgena Chirikova – but she managed to escape. The same day it was found out that the Transstroymekhanizatsya company was still carrying out works according to the initial routing of the motorway – as usual, without any official permission.
Video of the arrest
August 26 Immediately after Medvedev’s announcement, the website of the forest defenders www.ecmo.ru was subjected to a severe DDoS attack (in fact, there have been tens of attacks during the last few years). At the same time, workers of state-owned businesses in Khimki were forced to sign petitions for the resuming of building of the motorway through the forest. Later, public opinion polls showed that more than 2/3 of people in Khimki, Moscow, and the whole of Russia are against the chosen option of the motorway. It has not prevented authorities from scaling down and then stopping all the “public and expert consultations”. The “Final Decision” to proceed with the initial project was taken on December 14 completely behind closed doors. Despite the temporary halt of the works, further repression has been carried out.
August 22 A rally to protect Khimki Forest took place in Moscow despite multiple attempts of police and unknown bandits to interfere. Youry Shevchuk and other celebrities took part in the rally. The Moscow police threatened the organizers and participants during the few days before the rally. When the rally started, they forbade the organizers to bring in music and sound equipment – though it was not forbidden by law. Moreover, unknown motor bikers attacked a van with the sound equipment and punctured its tyres. Nevertheless, thousands attended the rally. It was, perhaps, a direct consequence of the rally that President Medvedev announced the interruption of the works on the project, and called for additional “expert and public discussion” on August 26.
Meanwhile, more and more people in Russia and abroad joined protests against destruction of Khimki Forest
During July - August 2010 a number of illegal arrests of participants in the anti-fascist movement were made, among them:
On July 31 in Kupavna near Moscow 50 persons were detained without any charges. They were subjected to fingerprinting and photographing.
On August 21 70 participants of a charitable concert were detained in Zhukovsky town and at least 10 of them were beaten.
Also on August 21 in Kostroma, police and state security detained and subjected to fingerprinting more than 200 persons in search of the organizers of the action at the Khimki administration.
Simultaneously pressure upon journalists mounted. In particular, Oleg Kashin from 'Kommersant' newspaper was pressed by policemen with requirements to give out the sources of his information about the July 28 action at the Khimki administration. Oleg refused, and was later (on November, 6, 2010) cruelly beaten - see below.
At least two detained anti-fascists (Emilju Baluev and Alexander Pahotin) were subjected to torture with the intention of forcing them to give the names of the participants in the action against the Khimki administration.
Not only antifascist activists were subjected to pressure. The family business of Evgenia Chirikova and Mikhail Matveev (a small engineering company) became an object of ruthless harrassment by police.
In August 2010 police sent a notice to their bank that the company was “suspected of financing of extremism”. The frightened bank provided police with all the info about their clients. Then such notices were sent to the majority of the company's clients. It inflicted huge damage to goodwill and reputation, and some clients were lost.
When the Head of the Security Committee of the State Duma Mr. Gudkov later sent an official request to police about all this activity, they answered (in February, 2011) that all the actions were taken in connection with the “attack” by antifascists. It was officially announced in this letter, that the company was cleared of suspicion. Nevertheless, pressure was resumed in 2011 – with the clear intention to frighten clients as well as to fabricate a criminal case (see below).
After the action of anti-fascists and anarchists near the Khimki administration building on July 28th, a serious crackdown began on participants of the anti-fascist movement.
Two anti-fascists – Alexey Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov - were arrested and spent three months in jail, without even judicial consideration of their case in essence.
Two anti-fascists – Alexey Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov - were arrested and spent three months in jail, without even judicial consideration of their case in essence.
The participation of Gaskarov and Solopov in the action is unproven. Nevertheless, they are officially accused of the crime of hooliganism., which can mean up to 7 years imprisonment.
August 5 Evgenia Chirikova was arrested again, and then brought to Khimki Court. This time she was fined. The case was based only on false testimonies of policemen. The judge, Mr. Khalatov, deliberately discarded multiple testimonies of other witnesses as “not trusted”.
August 4 Evgenia Chirikova was literally kidnapped in the centre of Moscow by riot police immediately after she left a press-conference. She was brought by force to the police department for an interrogation.
August 2 Riot police broke up a peaceful rally for Khimki Forest near Starbeevo village. 10 persons were unlawfully arrested, including Leader of the Yabloko Party Sergey Mitrokhin, as well as leaders of the Left Front Sergey Udaltsov and Konstantin Kosiakin.
July 31 Activist Gennadi Rodin was arrested in Khimki just for wearing a T-shirt with the slogan “Russia supports Khimki Forest!”
July 28 The same evening riot police once again attacked the tent camp of forest defenders (now situated in another place). Fifteen persons were arrested. Six of them – 5 journalists and an MP's aide – were soon freed. The other 9 forest defenders had to spend the following night and morning in stuffy cells. Before pushing them into the cells, the policemen searched environmentalists as if they were dangerous criminals. Evgenia Chirikova and Yelena Maximova were undressed during the search. Personal items belonging to the arrested people, including cellular phones, were taken away. Evgenia Chirikova requested them to let her to go home, because her two young children (her daughters aged 9 and 4 years) were in her flat alone, but the policemen, led by Major Shkuratov, refused to let her leave. Later Khimki policemen gave false testimonies in the court, trying to secure the conviction of environmental activists. Nevertheless, almost all the activists (including Evgenia) were not found guilty.
July 28 One of the forest defenders, Mikhail Matveyev, went to the inner part of the wood not far from the clearing to contact a group of activists. Two masked men attacked him. They knocked him to the ground and beat him, injuring several ribs, and took away the flash card and batteries from his camera. When the men left him , Mikhail went to the policemen at the post near the local road. The policemen refused to inspect the woods in search of the attackers or even to take a written complaint from Mikhail. Later they arrested him for alleged ‘disobedience to policemen’. The same day, another environmental activist Alexandr Glibin once again saw a group of men in masks who were accompanied by policemen and uniformed security guards, hired by PO Teplotekhnik.
July 27 Lawyers from Greenpeace together with activists visited the office of PO Teplotekhnik . No document allowing the clearing of the forest was provided to them. Nevertheless, trees were still cut down.
Approximately at the same time more beatings were reported. For example, activist Yury Petin was not only beaten, but apparently kidnapped for interrogation by unknown thugs near the clearing. According to Alexei Grigor’iev's testimony, the thugs harassed a girl who attempted to find the way to the environmentalists’camp. They pretended they were going to run over her in a SUV car, and then stopped at the last moment. They also stopped Alexei and took the flash-card from his camera.
July 23 In the evening, activist Oleg Prokopich was severely beaten by unidentified bandits when he attempted to approach the clearing.
July 23 At 5 a.m. tens of unknown men suddenly attacked the tent camp of the forest defenders. The attackers had masks and tattoos, some were wearing Nazi symbols. They threatened and insulted activists , and physically attacked those who dared to approach the tree clearing, which was resumed immediately after arrival of the men. Most witnesses claimed that the men resembled football fans belonging to ultra-right groups. Later the head of PO Teplotekhnik Mr. Semchenko publicly admitted that these thugs had been specially hired by him to provoke disorder and give the police a pretext for arrests of activists. Police condoned the attackers by refusing to find out who they were, and the police even tried to escape the scene. To prevent a bloodbath, the activists were forced to block the police car from leaving with their own bodies – which was then held against them. Then police re-enforcement arrived – and arrested 7 defenders of the forest and 2 journalists. Journalist Yelena Kostyuchenko, 23, from Novaya Gazeta newspaper received such a strong blow on her neck during this arrest that doctors later found displacement of neck vertebra and injury of neck ligaments. Another young woman Margarita Popova, the mother of a year-and-half-old child, was caught by her hair and dragged to the police van. She wept from pain. On the contrary, no one of the masked thugs was arrested, and none of them have been identified. The felling of trees was immediately resumed after the arrest of the activists. The police committed many other violations : they refused to introduce themselves or specify any reason for the detention. Charges were then falsified in the police station later.
The provocation of July 23 had some far-reaching consequences (perhaps not fully calculated by its masterminds). On July 28 several hundred antifascists attacked the Administration of Khimki, apparently outraged by the Neo-Nazi involvement in the project. No people were injured, and the building was damaged only slightly (broken windows, slogans painted on the walls). Nevertheless, this case was used to justify repression against activists, including those who were clearly not present at the antifascists’ action (see below).
July 22 Police arrested some activists who approached the House of the Government in Moscow with a peaceful flash mob action as well as to submit a petition demanding a stop to the clearing of the forest.
July 16 In a clearing, near the environmentalists’ tent camp, an unknown man attacked Evgenia Chirikova, the leader of the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest. He hit her first, and knocked her mobile phone out of her hand. Then he sat in his off-road car and tried to hit Evgenia with the car bumper. After this incident Evgenia wrote a complaint to the police. As far as it is known, the identity of the attacker was soon identified: his name is Boris Velchenko. However, police have not opened a criminal case against him.
July 14 Felling of trees was discovered by activists. The workers failed to show any permits for the work. Activists established a tent camp in the forest to prevent the illegal works from being continued. Security guards tried to attack activists
A series of cases of violence against peaceful protesters and of open violation of law has take place since July 2010 when an attempt was made to clear Khimki forest for construction of the Moscow – St. Petersburg toll motorway.
The main perpetrator of the project at this stage was PO Teplotekhnik – a company which was hired by State company FGU Dorogi Rossii to clear the land from vegetation for further construction works. It was planned that, after Teplotekhnik, further works would be carried out by NWCC Ltd – the concessioner of the project. A share in NWCC company is owned by French company Vinci, and the rest is owned by Russian shareholders (one of them is the company N-Trans and the other is the close friend of Putin Arkadi Rotenberg) – both with strong ties to top state officials.
November 2008. An attack against Mikhail Beketov, the editor of “Khimkinskaya Pravda”. He was found near his house in coma, with serious injuries to the head (cranium and brain were partially destroyed) and numerous injuries to his legs and hands. The investigation of this crime yielded no result. In 2010, the investigation was suspended under the pretext of the ‘complex nature’ of the case. After an attack against activist Konstantin Fetisov (see below) the investigation was resumed – but apparently with no result.
May, 2007. A car belonging to Mikhail Beketov, who was the editor of local opposition newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda, as well as an active participant of the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest, was set ablaze with flammable liquid. At approximately the same time Beketov’s dog was killed by unknown persons, apparently as a warning. Before this, Mikhail had published some articles criticizing Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko for various scandals, including the routing of the Moscow-St. Petersburg motorway within forest land with the clear intention of further commercial “development” of the land. In a TV interview, Mikhail Beketov publicly accused Khimki mayor Vladimir Strelchenko of involvement in these attacks. As a response, the Mayor started a campaign of intimidation against the journalist.