The Further Adventures of Vladimir Putin’s Gestapo

The Moscow Times reports (watch a video of the arrest described on YouTube):

Moscow region police flexed their muscle Wednesday in the conflict over the Khimki forest, detaining anti-deforestation campaign leader Yevgenia Chirikova in downtown Moscow in front of dozens of reporters.

Meanwhile, a Moscow region court has approved the arrest of two suspects in a daring attack last week on Khimki City Hall, despite what supporters said was shaky evidence against them.

Part of the Khimki forest is being cleared to make way for an $8 billion highway connecting Moscow and St. Petersburg. Opponents of the project say the highway could be built around the woods.

“Ten riot police officers grabbed me and dragged me away,” Chirikova said by phone after her questioning ended.

She had been speaking at the Independent Press Center, not far from the Kropotkinskaya metro station.

Around 30 policemen blocked people from leaving the press center while their colleagues dragged Chirikova to a beige Moskvich sedan, Interfax reported.

Once at the police office, “I honestly told them that I know nothing [of the July 28 attack] as I was at the logging site at the time,” she said.

Investigators summoned Chirikova to return to the Khimki police building at noon Thursday to watch videos of the July 28 attack, she said.

Moscow region police said in a statement that Chirikova had to be brought in by force because she ignored numerous summons for questioning about the attack on Khimki City Hall.

The attack saw a group of 90 to 300 suspected anarchists and anti-fascists pelting the building with stones and smoke grenades and writing “Save the Russian Forest” on its walls.

Chirikova was sought as a witness, despite saying earlier that she did not take part in the incident and was not present at the time.

Two suspects in the case, Alexei Gaskarov, an expert with the left-leaning nonprofit group Institute of Collective Action, and Maxim Solopov, a Moscow student, were placed in custody for two months by a Khimki court late Tuesday, Solopov’s lawyer, Yury Yeronin, told The Moscow Times. Both suspects confirmed that they were present during the attack but denied participating in it.

Yeronin said Solopov, 21, a student at the Russian State University for the Humanities, came to Khimki because he was told a concert would be held there.

Carine Clement, a Moscow-based French sociologist who was present when Chirikova was detained, said Gaskarov only wanted to report the incident for his group. “They want to make him a scapegoat,” she said.

Two witnesses claimed to have recognized Solopov and another three pointed to Gaskarov as participants of the attack, Yeronin said. But he said the witnesses were “fake” and gave contradicting testimonies.

Police said earlier that a criminal case had been opened for gang hooliganism, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in prison.

Kommersant reported Wednesday that an unidentified man who called himself the organizer of the Khimki attack contacted the newspaper by e-mail to give an interview.

The man said the building was attacked by political activists — not environmentalists. They were protesting the administration’s illegal actions, he said. Local residents supported the demonstration, he said, adding that he thought Khimki’s leadership would eventually be ousted over the scandal.

The legal campaign in defense of the forest is set to proceed Saturday, when environmentalists plan to stage a rally outside the Chistiye Prudy metro station to protest police’s actions, Clement said.

City Hall has not said whether it will permit the event, she said.

Meanwhile, Anton Belyakov, a State Duma deputy with A Just Russia, has asked Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu to block access to the Khim-ki forest — both for loggers and local residents — for fire safety concerns, saying that otherwise the forest may be purposefully set on fire, Interfax reported.

3 responses to “The Further Adventures of Vladimir Putin’s Gestapo

  1. Those familiar with Mikhail Beketov’s ordeal describe his survival as nothing short of a miracle. The once fit, towering 51-year-old who campaigned on environmental issues and criticized his city government’s policies through the pages of his newspaper is now gone. But the former editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda, an independent publication that exposed the blunders of the Khimki administration headed by Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko, has a fierce desire to return to normal life, or at least some semblance of it. He has a long way to go and he needs our help.

    More than a year ago, on November 13, 2008, neighbors found Beketov lying unconscious in a pool of blood, in the front garden of his home in Khimki, a Moscow suburb. Attackers had struck to kill—they broke his skull, smashed the fingers of both hands, broke his legs, and left him for dead in the freezing cold. Doctors estimated that the attack had occurred at least a day and a half before Beketov was discovered. He spent three weeks in a coma, had seven surgeries including leg and finger amputations, and underwent treatment in three different hospitals. Last week, doctors with the surgical unit at the Russian Academy of Sciences performed an operation to restore the journalist’s trachea; a tube had been inserted in his throat in the months after the near-lethal attack to help his breathing. Now Beketov must re-learn how to speak. More restorative surgeries are to come.

    Beketov’s rehabilitation will take months, if not years, doctors say.

    Meanwhile, his attackers are still at large; moreover, it is unclear whether a serious investigation is under way. Two months after Beketov was beaten, the lawyer representing his interests, Stanislav Markelov, was murdered in downtown Moscow along with a reporter from the independent Moscow-based newspaper Novaya Gazeta. Beketov had received death threats a week before the attack and reported them to law enforcement, and there have been no arrests. Novaya Gazeta, which has covered the attack and its aftermath extensively, undertook its own investigation into the incident. The paper reported that Khimki police ignored key evidence from the crime scene—officers did not examine recordings by security cameras across from Beketov’s home that could have captured the attack, for instance. Beketov’s neighbors were never questioned in detail, Novaya Gazeta said.

    After Khimkinskaya Pravda published an article on excavations at a World War II burial site in 2007, local prosecutors brought defamation charges against Beketov. Most outrageously, while Beketov’s attackers roam free, the journalist is banned from traveling outside of Russia because the case against him is still pending.

    A previous attack on Beketov is also unsolved. In May 2007, unidentified men set his car on fire. In a separate incident that year, his dog was deliberately killed.

    Friends of Beketov have set up a hard currency account in Russia for individuals and organizations abroad who wish to help the editor recover. Here are the details:

    http://cpj.org/blog/2009/12/beketov-still-recovering-from-attack-a-year-later.php

  2. Meanwhile in the south, “the police” just murdered an another Russia’s top martial artist. Memorial report:

    http://www.memo.ru/eng/news/2010/08/05/0508101.htm

    Magomed Said-Akhmedovich, a third-year student of economic faculty of the Institute of Law and Business in Makhachkala, had been professionally doing combat sambo and close fight. Magomed was a finalist of Championship of Russia in 2009, took third prize in Dagestan in the same year, and won Alexandr Takhtarov Cup.

    As the cousins were approaching the elder’s house, close to house No. 6 on Sovetskaya street, the armed unknown in an armored militia UAZ close approached the Nasibovs’ car at high speed and shot the young men down. Both died on site from the gunshot wounds received.

    According to the witnesses, the people in the UAZ had been asking the village dwellers where Sovetskaya street was not long before the murder. Besides, a militia car “Gazel” had been going around the village that evening, and a car Lada-Priora without number plates had been on duty on the highway, not far from the crime scene. The relatives of the murdered are sure that the crime was committed by Kizilyurtovsky OVD officers.

    According to the relatives and neighbors of the murdered, the militia officers arrived at the crime scene a half-hour after the murder. The militiamen examined the scenes of the events. The witnesses claim to have seen the militiamen collect the empty fired cases from the crime scene and scattered some old and rusty ones.

  3. The way russia is burning like hell, it stands to reason that the kremlin does not care about russian forests. Maybe the kremlin will burn this forest and blame it on the some non-russians?

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