In recent days, the battle to stop the destruction of the forest in the Moscow suburb of Khimki has heated up. Activists have been protesting the building of an $8 million high speed toll highway between Moscow and Petersburg. This highway would destroy beautiful forestland around Moscow. Environmentalists say the highway can bypass the old oak forest.
The flashpoint has been in the city which is called Khimki, right outside Moscow. There is a history of violence sponsored by the local authorities in this town. In the most famous case of political terrorism, in November 2008, Mikhail Beketov, outspoken editor-in-chief of the regional «Khimkinskaya Pravda» (Khimki Truth) newspaper, was savagely beaten in front of his home. The attack was clearly related to his criticism of local authorities and the highway being built. As a result of his injuries one of his legs was amputated, and head traumas he suffered during the attack have left him unable to speak. Current reports on his condition indicate that his second leg may have to be amputated.
Khimki authorities thus have a reputation for dealing brutally with anybody who dares oppose them.
Direct actions started on July 14, when the logging was to begin. Eco-activists set up an action camp in Khimki to take direct action against the deforestation. They have used blockades on the train lines leading to the logging site.
On July 23, at about 5AM, the protestors and two journalists were attacked and beaten by a gang of several dozen thugs with white T-shirts masking their faces. From all indications, this was an organized group of neofascists, wearing such symbols on their shirts. The police arrived and started arresting the activists, not the attackers, which indicated that this was an attack carried out in coordination with the police. Security guards hired by the firm carrying out the destruction also took part.
15 people were arrested at that time. Later in the day, the police arrived again, taking away dozens of people.
When some activists tried to protest in front of the White House in Moscow against this highway being built and the forest being illegally destroyed, they were also immediately arrested.
On July 28, a large group, (most say 400-500 people), marched on Khimki. A part of them (70-100 people), attacked the local administration building. This is shown on the video below.