Two journalists and about twelve activists were detained while camping at Moscow’s Khimki forest to protest plans to raze the area to make room for a highway. RFE/RL, one of whose reporters was amog those detained, has a report with eyewitness accounts:
Just after 5 a.m. on July 23, about 100 masked men appeared at the ecologists’ camp, threatening to “kill” them. The men, who wore white T-shirts wrapped around their heads, tore down the activists’ banners and removed the tents.
At the same time, loggers started felling trees close to the camp. Several activists were injured while attempting to stop the felling, including a woman who was reportedly severely beaten.
The activists swiftly called the police. Yevgenya Chirikova, who spearheads the campaign against Khimki’s deforestation, said the police took a whole hour to arrive.
“When the police arrived, the men had alreadyreached our camp and were threatening to beat us. I explained that Iwas the mother of two young children, that I feared for my life and mysafety, that dozens of people came here and I was afraid they wouldhurt me,” Chirikova said. “I asked the police officers to stay andcheck their documents, but they refused and tried to leave. I had noother choice than to lie under their vehicle’s wheels.”
About 40 riot police then turned up at the camp and detained a dozen activists, including Chirikova.
This incident comes a day after police detained five activists at a rally against the Khimki logging outside the White House in Moscow. Hmm, I wonder whose side the police are on?