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Russian Federation: Threatening and intimidatory acts against environmental human rights defenders
An environmental human rights defender and member of the Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest was detained by police in Khimki Forest on 3 July 2012.
The defender was first taken to a police station, then to a drug abuse clinic, then to a court, and was finally dropped off on a public road in another part of Moscow.The environmental activists' camp in Khimki forest had been fired upon the previous day.
Intimidation of members of The Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest
The Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest seeks to protect the forest from the threat of destruction arising from the construction of the Moscow-St Petersburg motorway. The members of the movement have been subjected to regular acts of intimidation since the movement's inception. The Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest also works on alleged corruption involving the company which is the principal contractor involved in the construction of the highway.
On the morning of 3 July, ten members of the Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest gathered near their camp to prevent Transstroymechanizatsia company workers from clearing an area of the Khimki forest to allow construction of the Moscow-St Petersburg motorway to go ahead. The workers, using machinery, were destroying deep layers of soil, cutting down trees and damaging the roots of trees. These works were carried out above a gas pipe, which also put the environment in Khimki and the north-western part of Moscow at risk.
Environmental activist arrested and then dumped on side of the road. Shots fired at environmentalists' camp
The environmentalist activists stood in front of the machinery, thus preventing the destruction of the forest. Upon the request of the workers, several police officers from the Khimki District arrived on the scene, ordered the protesters to disperse and claimed that they were drunk. When one of the protesters refused to leave, the police placed her in their vehicle and drove to the police station. They then took her to a drug abuse clinic to test whether she had consumed alcohol. After the test, the environmental activist was taken by the police to a court. When she declared that she would go on hunger strike against these actions, the police took her from the court and left her on a public road in another part of the city.
On 2 July, at approximately 8:00pm, the environmental activists' camp in Khimki Forest was fired upon by unknown individuals from a distance of around 100 metres. One of the bullets ricocheted and hit environmental activist Mr Aleksandr Bindyuk in the elbow. The activists informed the media about the shooting, but did not file a complaint with the police due to their belief that the police would not take action. The activists consider this incident was a means of threatening them in relation to their presence in the forest.
No action taken by police re attacks on environmentalists
On 3 June 2012, several members of the Movement in Defence of Khimki Forest were allegedly beaten in the forest by Transstroymechanizatsia company workers. On the same day, the beaten activists brought the results of medical examinations to the police and filed a complaint, but it is alleged that to date no case has been opened on the beating.
Details of previous attacks on environmentalists
For information on previous attacks against environmental rights defenders Alexey Dmitriev, Mikhail Beketov, Konstantin Fetisov and Mikhail Pchelintsev, which all took place in Khimki, please see:
Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned for the security of environmental and human rights defenders in Khimki and believes that the actions detailed above are directly linked to their peaceful and legitimate work as ecological and human rights defenders, in particular their activities against deforestation in Khimki.