Protests sparked after another act of lawlessness and arbitrariness against environmentalists in Russia. Two of them – Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko are already under the threat of up to 5 years in jail for their activity.
The case has clear political motivation, since Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko are fierce opponent of Krasnodarsky Krai Governor Mr. Tkachev. Mr. Tkachev is known for promoting many environmentally damaging projects like Eurokhim chemical plant and its cargo port in Tuapse, massive destruction of environment (included protected zones) for the Winter Olympic objects in Sochi, illegal seizure of forest and coastal lands for residences of high-ranked bureaucrats (including himself, Medvedev, and Putin). Despite widespread allegations in corruption (his 22-years-old daughter has became a billionaire, an owner of 3 enterprises during his rule), President Medvedev has recently re-appointed Mr. Tkachev as the Governor.
On March, 13 Suren Gazaryan and his lawyer (!) Viktor Dutlov approached an illegally installed fence around the object known as “Tkachev’s Dacha” (though Tkachev denies his relation to it). It was the very fence, for the “damage” of which the environmentalists are threatened to get up to 5 years in jail (the official accusation was submitted recently). During their inspection of the fence, they were attacked by armed men (presumably from private security company Neva), beaten, handcuffed, and literally abducted into a building inside the fenced zone.
After police arrived, they refused to receive any complain from Gazaryan or his lawyer, arrested them both and put them into jail. Next day a court gave Gazaryan and Dutlov 10 days in jail for “resistance to police” (though there were no one policemen at the moment of the attack against them). Of course, the threat of further 5-year term in jail has become even more real for Gazaryan, too.
After the arrests, Greenpeace of Russia has collected about 20,000 signatures demanding immediate release of those arrested and passed them to President Medvedev. The President has ordered the Prosecutor Office to “check” the circumstances of the cases against the environmentalists and the lawyer. Nevertheless, nothing has been changed, and Suren together with his lawyer has still been in jail – despite the fact that conditions there were found “unsatisfable” by an official commission.
On Friday, 16 and Saturday, 17 there was a wave of protests throughout Russia (Barnaul, Blagoveschensk, Chelyabinsk, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Lipetsk, Maykop, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Odintsovo, Rostov-on-Don, Sochi, St.Petersburg, Touapse, Volgograd, Vyatka, Ufa, Ulan-Ude) and abroad (Finland, France, Kazakhstan, Sweden, UK).
The actions were organized by various parties and movements, including Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest.
In many places, actions were carried peacefully. Nevertheless, at least in Moscow and Chelyabinsk, actions turned into conflicts with police with arbitrary detentions, especially in Moscow, where about 20 persons were detained just near the Kremlin’s wall on March, 17.
http://youtu.be/Nzxa2G9KKsM - video of detentions in Moscow
http://oleg-kozyrev.livejournal.com/4062581.html - Suren’s mother tries to protect her son
http://soferum-nihilum.livejournal.com/75042.html - more pictures
Leader of the movement to defend Khimki Forest Evgeniya Chirikova, as well as the Head of Russian Movement for the Human Rights Lev Ponomaryov were among those detained.
Detentions were carried out with lots of violations of law. Moreover, they were principally illegal since a stand-alone picket doesn’t require any kind of approval from the authorities.
All the detained persons were given identical protocols and mostly released. Now they may face further accusations in courts.
After her release, Evgenia Chirikova said: “ We have certainly to demonstrate our solidarity with Suren, Vitishko, and Dutlov - now that Putin’s doubtful “victory” was clearly taken as a signal to further attack against civic activists and their causes. During two weeks after Putin’s “victory” not only Krasnodarsky Krai environmentalists were put under attack - many such cases appeared throughout all the Russia. For example, in Moscow authorities have resumed destruction of its historical heritage for the development, even beating member of municipal council Ms. Aleksandra Andreeva who tried to interfere. Punk-Rock musicians Mrs. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Ms. Maria Alekhina are about to get few years in jail just for one anti-Putin song. We must, of course, be ready to counter further attempts to proceed with the scandalous motorway through the Khimki Forest, in the nearest future. I’m sure that Putin’s efforts to turn time back are doomed – but we need all our energy to protect nature, protect freedom, protect our friends”.
The Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest kindly asks you:
To support Greenpeace’s action in support of Suren Gazaryan and Evgeny Vitishko http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/en/campaigns/forests/defend-environment...
Demand Russian Government to stop all the repressions against activists by visiting Russian Embassies or via Web http://eng.letters.kremlin.ru/
Start your own actions to press Russian authorities about the detained environmentalists
5 years in jail – is certainly a wrong answer to Russian citizens’ worry about their environment.