Support Russian forest activists
The “Save Khimki Forest Movement” illustrates the dangers NGOs face in Russia. Naturvernforbundet/ Friends of the Earth Norway pledges support for the activists, and encourages Norwegians to sign their petition.
For years the activists comprising “Save Khimki Forest Movement” have fought to alter the plans of a new toll highway from Moscow to St Petersburg through old-growth oak forest Khimki.
NGO exclusion from the process by the Russian government, as well as horrendous incidents affecting key activists, has led to growing support for the movement, both in Russia and internationally. Among the more serious incidents is the attack on journalist Mikhail Beketov outside his home, resulting in permanent brain damage and an amputated leg. Detentions and interruptions during legal demonstrations are other problems the activists face.
- We encourage the Norwegian government to remind the Russian government of their responsibility towards the NGOs working situation. Whether environmentalists, human rights activists or journalists, NGOs should be able to work without risking their lives, says Kjersti Album, department for international projects in Naturvernforbundet/ FoE Norway.
Reaching out to the international community, the Save Khimki Forest Movement is now targeting Vinci, the world's largest construction group, which is involved in the construction work. In a recent letter, the movement warns that by participating, Vinci will be partly responsible for the repression of activists, which is likely to continue, as well as the destruction of habitats.
The Save Khimki Forest Movement has also launched a petition directed towards Vinci, where everyone may sign to support the cause and the activists' struggle.
Through more than 20 years of collaboration with grassroots environmentalist movements in North-Western Russia, Naturvernforbundet/ FoE Norway has experienced how closely linked environmentalist and human rights work is.
- It is important that we support the democratic grassroots movements in Russia, and show the activists that they are not alone, says Kjersti Album, who hopes the petition will gain Norwegian signatures.