23:56 GMT +315 November 2019
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    Nature activists condemn police crackdown on Khimki forest protest

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    Environmental activists have criticized Russian police for using heavy-handed tactics after they detained at least 25 people at a rally against the demolition of mature woodland near Moscow to make way for a new highway to St. Petersburg.

    Environmental activists have criticized Russian police for using heavy-handed tactics after they detained at least 25 people at a rally against the demolition of mature woodland near Moscow to make way for a new highway to St. Petersburg.

    Yevgeniya Chirikova, a leading campaigner to save the more than 500-year-old forest, and Sergei Mitrokhin, leader of the liberal opposition party Yabloko, were among those detained on Sunday for staging an unauthorized rally in Khimki, a town just outside of the Russian capital.

    Writing on her Twitter account, Chirikova said the actions of the police were appalling.

    She said activist Oleg Prudnikov needed hospital treatment after being severely beaten up by riot police as they dispersed the demonstration.

    "Doctors want to take Prudnikov to hospital but police will not let them do that," Chirikova said.

    The planned multi-lane motorway has sparked protests and several journalists who reported on the Khimki forest campaign have been attacked and badly hurt.

    The project was given the go-ahead in December, just three months after President Dmitry Medvedev put it on hold. Ecologists say the new highway could easily be rerouted.

    Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the communist Left Front organization, has had a rib broken in the Sunday crackdown, and activist Sergei Ageyev suffered concussion of the brain, according to the Grani.ru website.

    Last year, ecologist Konstantin Fetisov was badly beaten after being released from a police station where he had been questioned about a rally.

    Mikhail Beketov, the former editor of a local weekly who criticized the motorway project, was left brain-damaged and unable to speak after another attack in 2008.

    MOSCOW, May 9 (RIA Novosti)

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