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article imageKhimki Forest rally, Russian concert banned, but Shevchuk sings Special

By Sara Star     Aug 23, 2010 in Environment
Moscow - The battle for Khimki Forest is gaining momentum after famed Russian musicians attended a rally at the Pushkin Square. City Hall originally allowed, then banned a music concert to go ahead.
Moscow Times reports that 1500 policemen were on hand, but nothing would stop rocker Yury Shevchuk from grabbing an acoustic guitar and standing on an improvised stage on a truck. The front man for the popular rock band DDT, surrounded by 3000 demonstrators and journalists, sang his hit songs "Osen" (Fall Season) and "Rodina" (Motherland) using a handheld megaphone. He was joined by an accordion player.
Three prominent opposition activists were detained by the police, but Yevgenia Chirikova, leader of the Khimki Forest protest movement, rallied the crowd, chanting: "Send the route around the forest!".
Musical equipment and several musicians were not allowed to enter, but did little to discourage citizens from having their voices heard over three hours.
Interview with Mikhail Matveev
When asked what the people's reactions were to the ban, Mikhail Matveev, from replied "People were angered, but not surprised since Moscow Mayor's office, Moscow Police, as well as pro-Kremlin groups threatened to interfere with the concert long before. When Shevchuk started performing, people started to sing together with him." He also added that "It was unlawful to ban sound equipment, since the rally was (legally) sanctioned, and was allowed to use sound equipment."
He further explained that no one is camping at the Khimki Forest, after its participants were easily arrested by police twice. "They just catch people for nothing, and then invent a pretext. It is very difficult to challenge police's unlawful action in Russia. Now we have separate groups patrolling the area."
As for future plans, Matveev explains, "We just decided to switch to big rallies' tactic like yesterday instead of direct actions in the forest. We are planning to mount some kind of international pressure on Russian authorities. We prepared a short petition to be sent to President Medvedev."
Did the recent forest fires in Russia help their plight? "Yes, it highlighted the fact that protection of forests in modern Russia is nearly absent."
The rally, "We All Live in the Khimki Forest!" was hosted by legendary rock critic Artemy Troitsky.
Many also took this time to call for the resignation of PM Vladimir Putin, who has enjoyed popularity of the people's votes for the last decade.
The rally started and ended peacefully.
Pushkin Square
Pushkin Square is the busiest square in Russia, and by many accounts the busiest in the world. It is named in the honor of Moscow born Alexander Pushkin, a national genius, known for his poetry and literature. His grandfather was a Paris educated African slave, gifted to Peter the Great. Pushkin, himself was raised almost solely on French, and by the age of 11 could recite most of the French literature by heart. His nanny taught him the Russian language, which he latter had great influence on, originating future nuances and augmenting the Russian lexicon.
Pushkin gradually became committed to social reform and emerged as a spokesman for literary radicals; in the early 1820s he clashed with the government, which sent him into exile in southern Russia.
Friends of Khimki Forest
According to Bank, the Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest, has support of the Moscow Duma, state ecological monitoring body Rosprirodnadzor, the Moscow State Department for Conservation and Natural Resources, most Russian political parties (except the ruling one), Greenpeace Russia and more than 15,000 citizens who have signed a petition to preserve Khimki Forest.
More about Khimki forest, Ddt, Rally, Shevchuk
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