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Russian Environmentalists Protest Planned New Highway

Deer in Russia's Zavidovo National Park
Deer in Russia's Zavidovo National Park
Russian environmentalists today protested what they say are plans to build part of a new highway through the Zavidovo National Park, near Moscow, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The activists associated with the opposition Yabloko party staged a number of individual protest actions in Moscow near the building of the Federal Guard Service, which provides security for top officials.

They said the local government plans to start construction of a new Moscow-St. Petersburg highway through Zavidovo, where the official residence of the Russian president and a recreation center for Foreign Ministry employees are situated.

They unfurled a large banner saying "Zavidovo National Park Is Untouchable!"

The protesters say environmental regulations do not allow for any construction work on the park's territory. They also say the local authorities should consider alternative routes for the proposed highway.

The state company in charge of supervising construction, Avtodor, today denied the highway would pass through the national park. ITAR-TASS cited a company statement describing media reports on the Zavidovo route as "disinformation."

But Nadezhda Samsonova, the leader of Yabloko's branch in the nearby town of Klin, said the option is still on the table. "At the last hearings in Klin on March 3, one of the variants of the route was discussed [and that is] on the edge of the Zavidovo National Park," she said. "We consider that variant completely unacceptable."

Zavidovo is along the same highway route that would pass through the protected Khimki Forest -- a plan that drew widespread protests last year.

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