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Moscow Court Arrests, Fines Khimki Forest Activist

Yevgenia Chirikova

Yevgenia Chirikova

MOSCOW -- A Moscow court today fined the leader of the Save Khimki Forest movement 1,500 rubles ($50) for organizing an unsanctioned protest, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Yevgenia Chirikova, her assistant Yaroslav Nikitenko, and Artur Grokhovsky, a member of the opposition party Yabloko, were arrested earlier today. Grokhovsky says the court refused to consider their argument that police took inappropriate action when dispersing protesters at a rally in the forest on July 28.

Chirikova and hundreds of members of the Save Khimki Forest movement convened a public meeting on July 28 and then walked to the nearby Khimki forest outside of Moscow to continue their protest against the clearing of part of the forest to build a Moscow-St. Petersburg highway.

Police forcibly disbursed the protest a short time later.

The same night, a group of unknown people set off firecrackers and threw rocks at an administrative building in Khimki.

Police had also detained Chirikova after a Moscow press conference on August 4 and questioned her about the attack on the administrative building in Khimki on July 28.

Chirikova told the police she knows nothing about the incident and that it was not connected to the campaign to stop the construction of the highway.

Chirikova and her civic group Ecodefense have been protesting the plan to build the highway for the past three years.