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Russia - in defence of Khimki forest and arrested antifascists - solidarity need

ru indymedia | 09.08.2010 14:42 | Ecology | Repression | Social Struggles

At this moment, Russia's antifascist, anarchist and environmentalist movements
are in great need of international solidarity.

As Moscow is choking from wildfires, the forests around the city are being
chopped down. An oak forest near Khimki, a town just north of Russia's capital,
is a deliberate target of those who wish to make money on a new toll motorway
between Moscow and St.Petersburg. The planned motorway makes a detour through
the previously protected forest. Motorist groups say this will actually slow the
traffic down, yet increase profits for local authorities which will benefit from
turning the wooded area over to elite housing and shopping centres.

Khimki residents have been fighting an uphill battle against local and federal
authorities to prevent the project. At least one local journalist was killed,
and another, an editor of a local newspaper, maimed in an attempted
assassination attack which the police did not bother to investigate.

As the chopping down operation started for good this summer, environmentalist
protesters were attacked with varying degrees of brutality by security guards,
riot police and hired thugs from neo-Nazi football hooligan gangs.

On July 28, 2010, a crowd of about 300 antifas, punks and anarchists have
gathered in Moscow for an open-air gig to support the Khimki forest protests
which was to feature some local hardcore and hip hop bands. Instead of this,
they took a commuter train to Khimki where they marched to the Khimki town hall,
chanting slogans in support of the forest, surrounded by enthusiastic crowds of
locals. The town hall was empty, and the crowd smashed a door, a few windows and
left some graffiti. Police simply ran away when they saw the crowd, as most of
their forces were concentrated in the forest to prevent any hindrance with the
chopping down of the trees. The crowd then travelled back to Moscow, and no
arrests were made at the scene.

The repressions came later, when two activists were arrested. Collective Action
Institute researcher, anarchist Alexey Gaskarov, went to Khimki to watch the
action as part of his research into protest movements in Russia. Antifa activist
Maxim Solopov discussed the action in Khimki with the popular Ekho Moskvy radio
station. Moscow Region police thought that this was sufficient grounds to detain
them, as they were under immence pressure to find someone, anyone, as the public
opinion polls have shown that 80 to 90 per cent of the public supported the
action in Khimki - which only involved property damage, and pretty minor at

After the court struggled to find legal grounds to hold the two men, after
police extended pressure on the lawyers who defended them, after no proof
whatsoever of either Gaskarov's or Solopov's involvement in the violence was
produced, it is clear that both are but hostages held to prevent further
disturbances. They face up to seven years in prison on aggravated hooliganism

The repressions are ongoing. About two dozen reporters and photographers were
detained, sometimes with the use of riot police, as the police search for
evidence. Khimki environmentalist leader Yevgeniya Chirikova was repeatedly
arrested by the police, in circumstances which could only be described as
kidnapping, and fined for allegedly organising protests - which she said she did
not support but found inevitable after the authorities refused any sort of

A number of peaceful actions in support of the arrested activists were held in
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Finland. There is only so much that we can do
locally, and as there are international investors involved in the funding of the
motorway, putting pressure on them may well change situation for the better.
Send protest letters to Russian embassies in your country, hold pickets and
rallies, spread the word - do whatever you can. We need your help to save the
forest - and save our comrades.

"On arrests after direct action in Khimki 28th of July"

"Moscow / Khimki: The Battle with the Adminstration Heats Up"

"Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists"
(also includes links to online petitions and more information)!/group.php?gid=123233894390151
(regularly updated links with news updates in English)

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