To friends of Russia and forests everywhere:
The Khimki forest is saved – Now save the activists!
Thanks to an impressive solidarity and historically courageous struggle, activists in Russia from all parts of society supported by people in common have been able to save the Khimki forest close to Moscow. The plan was to build a toll high way through one of the last forests in the green belt surrounding the city. Direct action to save the forest and wider and wider support at street rallies and in opinion polls made president Medvedev decide in favour of protecting the forest for now.
Russian democratic culture has shown its strength in a historically important battle. Journalists exposing corrupt economic interests with political support in the project of the high way through the Khimki forest have been attacked and crippled for life. Environmentalists, antifascists, human rights activists and liberal and left wing parties have together with many others been able to confront the interests of the exploiters of the forest.
No to new Moscow trials against activists!
Russia brought literature to the world that inspire generations everywhere and Soviet Union brought us the great victory over German fascism. Cultural inspiration and sacrifice for which we are grateful. Moscow brought us also trials in the 1930s built mostly on fraud and sometimes on grossly exaggerated charges.
The news about the successful outcome of the Khimki forest conflict is accompanied with the information that the activists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov still are in jail facing trials which we fear will be built on fraud evidence. They were arrested after a protest action at the Khimki administration building causing some material damage in July in defence of the Russian forest without evidence against them and against normal procedure. The reason why they were arrested was not that they were
present at the action but that they were well-known spokespersons for antifascists in Moscow in other matters. They are threatened by many years in the dangerous Russian prison system.
The Khimki forest is saved but it has happened before in Russia in other environmental cases that promises have been given and then not kept. There is only one way to make the victory in the battle for the Khimki forest a victory in the struggle for all forests in Russia and the world. That is to turn the victory into a struggle for the defenders of the forest and all those that have been arrested as the result of the conflict. Only by showing our seriousness in continuing to defend the victory and those that made it possible can we be for sure that the forest will be protected and make our commitment a warning to anyone exploiting forest anywhere in disrespect of
ecological and social concerns.
This is why we call upon organizations and individuals everywhere to continue the struggle.
Free the activists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov!
Save the Khimki forest for ever and protect forests everywhere!
Statement by Friends of the Earth Sweden, August 27th 2010