A foreign forest expert who witnessed yesterdays incident describes her first impressions of the Khimki situation. Yesterday, a group of around 30 people went to a site near Shermetyevo airport where currently illegal logging takes place. The aim of the activists was to ask the workers on the site to show them a cutting permission and documents which can prove that the logging activities aren't illegal.
Today I witnessed the treatment of peaceful activists trying to protect forests in Russian: they do not only get beaten up by thugs, but also officially by police forces.
I went with a group of activists to a site where currently illegal logging activities are taking place. The aim of the visit was to ask the loggers for cutting permissions and official documents. After a short discussion, a bulk of riot police and private security forces detained and beat up some of the peaceful activists.
The sad story of the fight for protection of Khimki forest is at a new peak after a couple of days ago illegal logging activities in the disputed area have been discovered. This story goes far beyond forest protection, it's about crimes against civil society and human rights violations, arbitrariness and corruption of officials (administration and police): Interaction between authorities and civil society have been accompanied by massive attacks on life and health of civil society activists, intimidation, threatening of activists' children etc.
The Khimki case more than just another "forest protection case" - it is a precedent for Russian civil society and involves all political levels up to the top - which makes it very delicate to deal with. For more information on the Khimki case, check out this forum - also here you can find explaining why this case is so important.
There is a video of todays scene on the GP Russia live blog - a bit long (10 min.) and in Russian - but worth to see the beginning and the end.