The activists protecting the Khimki forest were attacked by an unknown group of masked people who announced that they came there "to clean up and kill". Raiders swooped on the protest camp early on Friday, demonstrators say, yet it was the victims of the attack
The environmentalists are trying to stop a new Moscow-Petersburg highway being built through the woodland.
As the leader of the Movement in protection of the Khimki Forest, Evgenia Chirikova declared on radio, the people who do the felling, have no permits. Ecologists called to militia, wich checked the fellers' documents, and it came to light that they really did not have felling permits. At this point the camp of green defenders of the Khimki Forest was invaded by around 100 unknown people wearing masks, who attacked the ecologists. People in masks blocked the approach of ecologists to the tree-felling machines. 40 to 50 private security guards hired by the highway construction company and a gang of ultra-rightist hooligans assaulted the group. One of the activists Rita Popova has been severely beaten up. Thus, cutting down of the Khimki Forest has actually begun.
The Police, called by the environmentalists did not intervene at first. Then, the OMON cops arrived on the spot and arrested seven activists instead of the attackers, as well as two journalists, Ms. Elena Kostyuchenko, from the opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta and Mr. Yuri Timoveyev, a reporter for Prague-based Radio Liberty, who were taken to a nearby police station. Ms. Kostyuchenko sustained a neck injury as a result of violent blow at the time of arrest.