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Russian Police 'Reluctant To Probe' Assault Of Conservationists

Moscow conservationists, Elena Tkach and Oleg Melnikov (right), at the site of a demolished building
MOSCOW -- Conservationists in Moscow say police are reluctant to investigate an assault on a group of their activists protesting the demolition of an historic building, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

Oleg Melnikov of the Moscow's Defenders group said about 50 masked men assaulted some 20 activists on August 8 as they tried to prevent the demolition of a 19th century building at 25, Bolshoi Kozikhinsky Street.

The masked men also destroyed all the activists' cameras. Police on duty nearby did not intervene, but several dozen police officers arrived on the scene later and detained the assailants. It is not clear whether they were charged or released.

The remaining police officers refused to comment to RFE/RL on the fracas.

Melnikov told RFE/RL that police have refused to accept his group's written request to investigate the assault.

The building on Bolshoi Kozikhinsky Street is not a designated historic monument, but the activists say it is of historic significance.

The activists were not able to prevent the demolition of the building. A construction company plans to build a seven-storey apartment block with underground parking on the site.

Last month, security guards from the construction company assaulted five Moscow's Defenders activists at the same spot.

The movement has been actively campaigning to prevent construction companies demolishing old buildings in Moscow.

Read more in Russian here