It is not the novel by Martin Cruz Smith, and indeed is not set in Petroburgo but in Kharkiv in Ukraine. Gere the men in black stormed against the forest defenders, beating them, chopping down trees on their heads, to log illegally.

Approximately 50 men dressed in black demolished an encampment of about 100 civic activists protesting plans to cut down trees in Kharkiv's Gorky ParkThe attack took place on June 1, according to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, which said police watched the disorder instead of intervening. Workmen turned on their chainsaws and followed the men in black into the encampment and cut down all the trees.

The police were there and watched in silence, not taking any measures. They later detained around 10 people, with the detentions being arbitrary. Kharkiv Human Rights Group said that a dozen or so arrested protesters were not being allowed to see lawyers.

Among the tree defenders was a Deputy of the Regional Council, Ihor Poddubny, who had a deputy badge - he was shoved, abused and showered with foul language. The workmen, together with the men in black, walked straight at people with their saws turned on.

Former Kharkiv Governor Arsen Avakov arrived at the camp, to support protesters, but by then there was nothing left to defend.

The logging is meant to build a road through the park to ease traffic on the city's main thoroughfare Sumska Street, a 20-minute walk from Maidan Svobody.

All of this has happened the day after confirmation from the Ministry for Environmental Protection that the tree felling is illegal. The claims of the Acting Mayor of Kharkiv Kernes and Region's Governor Dobkin that the road through the Park is in the General Plan of the City were also shown to be false.

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