Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Khimki forest is saved ­ Now save the activists!

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 the moment.

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

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

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