“Tässä työssä auttaa, että on pienenä ihaillut Peppi Pitkätossua.”

Chirikova visits Brussels: European involvement in Khimki row raises questions

A former businesswoman and the Goldman Environmental Prize 2012 winner Evgenia Chirikova visited the European parliament today to discuss the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway project across the Khimki forest and corruption, including evidence on the role of the French company Vinci.
In 2004, the Russian Transportation Ministry announced plans to build a new highway between Moscow and St. Petersburg in an effort to ease congestion between Russia's two main metropolises. Moscow-St. Petersburg highway would cut through 2500 acres of federally protected Khimki forestland in Northern Moscow. The independent expertise has shown the existence of over 10 alternative variants for the route of Moscow – St. Petersburg motorway which could save the forest. Still in 2009 Putin signed a decree changing Khimki's protected status to allow for transport and infrastructure.
The logical route, the protesting environmentalists say, would have followed a railway line that has connected the cities since the early 20th century. Instead, the route approved by Khimki Mayor Viktor Shelchenko in 2006 made a looped detour through the forest to bring it closer to Moscow’s busy Sheremetyevo airport.
MEP Satu Hassi (Greens/EFA) comments:
"A report by the NGO Bankwatch confirms the involvement of people close to Putin via a complex web of off-shore companies. Also the growing price tag for land in Khimki forest indicates corruption and backroom deals between powerful individuals for large sums."
MEP Corinne Lepage (ALDE) acknowledges:
"With intense work Chirikova and her colleagues have managed to convince the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, major financial backers of the highway, to withdraw their funding. Also due to Khimki Forest defenders’ struggle, the width of the road on the main sections of Moscow – St. Petersburg motorway has been cut from 8 to 4 lanes. Still the forest remains threatened."
MEP Michele Rivasi (Greens/EFA) adds:
"The French company Vinci is a partner in this controversial motorway project meanwhile it has signed the Global Compact of the UN, pledging to respect universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, environment and anti-corruption. While Vinci has taken a big role in ensuring that the project will proceed as planned, it has not backed even when European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank left. This is pure greenwashing that must be publicly condemned."
MEP Werner Schulz (Greens/EFA) says:
"Chirikova and other activists of the Khimki movement symbolise the new generation of citizens that are not afraid to intervene in public affairs and raise their voice against corrupt authorities. Even if they are risking their own security and freedom. We in the European Union must not stand still when civil rights in Russia are threatened and fundamental freedoms are violated but support the civil right defenders wherever needed."

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