The expansion of the highway, called the M-4 "Don," was ordered by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and is part of the preparations for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
According to the letter, in September 2009 workers began cutting down trees that separated Matveevka from the highway:
We witnessed the use of construction equipment against living people. The drivers of the bulldozers were trying to hurt people, including the children. We consider this act [to be] a crime against humanity."
Matveevka has approximately 1,000 residents, mostly disabled persons, veterans, and pensioners. The residents were able to briefly halt the construction by staging protests and blocking the highway, according to the letter. But the protests, however, were eventually suppressed by the authorities.
The letter concluded with a personal appeal to IOC President Rogge:
1) Intervene personally in the situation [which is] discrediting the reputation of the International Olympic Committee;
2) Indicate to the Russian Government the inadmissibility of violations of human rights and freedoms during the preparations for the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014;
3) Raise at the next meeting of the IOC the question of transferring the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi to the territory of another state."
-- Brian Whitmore