Elena Kostuchenko is a journalist for Russian paper Novaya Gazeta who has been covering the struggle to save Khimki Forest, she speaks here about the social conflict and involvement of French company Vinci.
The situation in the Khimki forest region is escalating. The activists working to defend the forest have set up a camp where illegal clearing of trees is taking place to try and put a stop to the destruction both day and night. Once again, private security forces and unidentifiable thugs attacked the activists – inflicting serious injuries including head injury, broken nose, and broken jaw. On Sunday during a peaceful demonstration in Khimki the NGO community issued a press release urging Moscow’s regional police authority to resign – due to the use of inappropriate force against the Khimki activists.
A Russian national holiday this week meant one day of peace for the Khimki forest, but now clearing of the trees continues and I am once again extremely concerned for the safety of those forest defenders who continue the struggle – and call for more help via Twitter.
Vinci, the multinational French construction company, which is building the road through the middle of Khimki forest, is “partly washing their hands of what is happening and partly ignoring the whole thing completely” as reported in The Nation recently. There is a complex web of foreign interests and oligarchs behind the controversial motorway project that is threatening the forest, and the leader of the movement to save Khimki – Evgenia Chirikova – attended Vinci’s recent shareholder meeting in Paris to draw attention to this ongoing conflict.
As I write this the activists who are out there in Khimki forest are sacrificing their safety and daily lives in order to stop the illegal destruction of the forest. They cannot expect any help or security from the police. But you can support them by sending a letter to Vinci representatives in your country, by sending a letter to your Russian embassy demanding security for these forest defenders or adding your name to this petition.
Asti Roesle, Forest Campaigner for Greenpeace Switzerland, demands French construction firm Vinci end its involvement in the illegal destruction of Khimki Forest.