Russia’s ecology activists concerned over new Khimki Forest clearing

Russia’s ecology activists, standing against the construction of the highway through the Khimki Forest near Moscow, have spotted new unauthorized forest clearings, one of the activists, Yaroslav Nikitenko said on Saturday.

“There is a large number of the recently cut trees in the Khimki forest. The workers do not have documents (for clearing trees). Earlier we have seen the documents that allow storage (already felled timber), but not clearing,” Nikitenko said.

The activist said there were at least 100 cubic meters of clear-cut forest.

Avtodor road-building company, responsible for the highway construction, dismissed the reports about the clearings.

Last week police arrested 26 people at a rally in protest at the planned construction of the highway.

Police said Yevgeniya Chirikova – one of the figureheads of the campaign to save the more than 500-year-old forest – was among those arrested for staging an unauthorized rally in Khimki, a town just outside of the Russian capital.

The highway project was given the go-ahead in December, just three months after President Dmitry Medvedev put it on hold.

Several journalists who reported on the Khimki forest campaign have been attacked and badly hurt. In 2008, Mikhail Beketov, the former editor of a local weekly, was left brain-damaged and unable to speak. In 2010, ecologist Konstantin Fetisov was badly beaten.

MIOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti)


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