Thursday, September 02, 2010

A Call for International Days of Action in Support of Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov (en, fr, de, tr, es)

In English:


English below, for other languages follow links

September 17—20, 2010

On July 28, 2010, more than two hundred young antifascists and
anarchists carried out a spontaneous demonstration outside the town
administration building in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. They
demonstrated in defense of the Khimki Forest, which was at that time
in the process of beings cutting down for the needs of big business.
The demonstration, during which several windows were broken, received
a great deal of public attention. The authorities responded with a
wave of repressions. The day after the demonstration, two well-known
social activists, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, were arrested.
They are now threatened with up to seven years in prison for
disorderly conduct, although there is no evidence of their complicity
in illegal activities. Meanwhile, the police continue to hunt down and
harass other activists, especially those involved in the antifascist

The campaign to save the Khimki Forest has been going on for the past
three years. The authorities had decided to build a segment of a
planned Moscow—Saint Petersburg toll highway, the first of its kind in
Russia, through the forest. This would lead to the deterioration of
environmental conditions in the region, and local residents and
Muscovites would be deprived of yet another recreation zone. Despite
the availability of alternative routes that would not require
clear-cutting the forest and vigorous protests by environmentalists
and ordinary citizens against the planned route, the authorities f0r a
long time ignored the voice of society and on several occasions took
measures to suppress their critics.

Khimki authorities and the highway project contractor have used
violence and other tactics against Khimki Forest defenders. They
refused to give permission for protest demonstrations, recruited
nationalist thugs to break up a peaceful protest camp organized by
environmentalists and local residents, and illegally arrested and beat
up journalists covering the story. Nearly two years ago, Mikhail
Beketov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda and a
critic of the local administration, was severely beaten by persons
unknown; the attack left Beketov permanently disabled. Sergei
Protozanov, the layout designer of another local opposition paper, was
murdered in similar circumstances six months later.

After the July 28 demonstration, the Russian police and secret
services unleashed an unprecedented dragnet against antifascists.
People who had even just once come to the attention of the Center for
Extremism Prevention and FSB for their involvement with the
antifascist movement have been forcibly taken in for questioning. In
several cases they have been subjected to harsh physical coercion in
order to compel them to give the testimony required by investigators.
In addition, illegal searches have been carried out in their
apartments. All these actions on the part of law enforcement
authorities are violations of Russian and international law.

Frightened by the numerous and growing protests against the
clear-cutting of the Khimki Forest, the authorities have finally made
concessions by agreeing to review the advisability of the planned
route for the toll highway. But this does not mean victory. Alexei
Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov are still in police custody for no reason
at all. They are hostages of the authorities.

In late September, the next hearing in their case will take place. The
judge will decide whether to keep them in police custody pending
completion of the investigation and trial. Everyone who cares about
the fate of these two young men must do everything in their power to
see that they are set free. The Campaign for the Release of the Khimki
Hostages calls on people around the world to organize days of action
on September 17, 18, 19, and 20 to pressure the Russian authorities to
release Alexei and Maxim.

We ask you to hold protests outside of Russian Federation embassies,
consulates, trade missions, and cultural centers, as well as at public
events and concerts connected to Russia. We also ask you to send
faxes, e-mails, and protest letters to the court, the prosecutor’s
office, and the country’s political leadership. In the very near
future we will inform you of addresses where you can send these
protests as well as more details about the ongoing repressions in
Russia. Look for this information on our website in English, German, Russian, and French.

Join our campaign!

Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages

+7 (915) 053-5912 • info@khimkibattle.org

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