At 5 a.m. tens of unknown men suddenly attacked the tent camp of the forest defenders. The attackers had masks and tattoos, some were wearing Nazi symbols. They threatened and insulted activists , and physically attacked those who dared to approach the tree clearing, which was resumed immediately after arrival of the men. Most witnesses claimed that the men resembled football fans belonging to ultra-right groups. Later the head of PO Teplotekhnik Mr. Semchenko publicly admitted that these thugs had been specially hired by him to provoke disorder and give the police a pretext for arrests of activists. Police condoned the attackers by refusing to find out who they were, and the police even tried to escape the scene. To prevent a bloodbath, the activists were forced to block the police car from leaving with their own bodies – which was then held against them. Then police re-enforcement arrived – and arrested 7 defenders of the forest and 2 journalists. Journalist Yelena Kostyuchenko, 23, from Novaya Gazeta newspaper received such a strong blow on her neck during this arrest that doctors later found displacement of neck vertebra and injury of neck ligaments. Another young woman Margarita Popova, the mother of a year-and-half-old child, was caught by her hair and dragged to the police van. She wept from pain. On the contrary, no one of the masked thugs was arrested, and none of them have been identified. The felling of trees was immediately resumed after the arrest of the activists. The police committed many other violations : they refused to introduce themselves or specify any reason for the detention. Charges were then falsified in the police station later.
The provocation of July 23 had some far-reaching consequences (perhaps not fully calculated by its masterminds). On July 28 several hundred antifascists attacked the Administration of Khimki, apparently outraged by the Neo-Nazi involvement in the project. No people were injured, and the building was damaged only slightly (broken windows, slogans painted on the walls). Nevertheless, this case was used to justify repression against activists, including those who were clearly not present at the antifascists’ action (see below).
In the evening, activist Oleg Prokopich was severely beaten by unidentified bandits when he attempted to approach the clearing.