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Moscow Police Break Up Khimki Forest Protest

Khimki forest defenders walking the area in late July.
Khimki forest defenders walking the area in late July.
MOSCOW -- Moscow police have broken up another protest against the planned logging of the Khimki forest to clear the way for a highway project, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Some 30 activists, including Save Khimki Forest movement leader Yevgenia Chirikova, set up a tent and held a sit-in at the offices of the Moscow Oblast government. They demanded that the felling of the forest be designated illegal.

A few hours into the protest, police arrived and forced the protesters to leave.

The demonstrators have written a letter to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asking him to stop construction of the planned Moscow-St. Petersburg highway through the forest and to designate another route.

After the protesters were dispersed they went to the office of the RIA Novosti news agency where Anatoly Chabunin, the head of the Federal Road Service, asked the government to help preserve Moscow's "Green Belt" and not route the highway through Khimki.

Chirikova and her civic group Ecodefense have been protesting the plan to build the highway for the past three years. Chirikova and several of her fellow protesters were recently arrested.

Police have also questioned journalists who have covered the case.