This conflict arose from the construction project of the highway from Moscow-Petersburg. According to the project plan, part of the highway (15—58 km) was to run through the Khimki forest and divide its territory in half.
The Khimki forest is protected by the State in accordance to the Russian Forest Code; and its territory was not conducive to any construction activities since it belonged to the first category of protected forests. Due to the project, approved deforestation covers an area of 140 hectares. The glade for the road and the road infrastructure was planned to be 3 km.
Main sources of the conflict: Khimki forest represents a large green zone considered by the local community as key for its ecological (air quality, biodiversity) and recreational values.
Project decisions and activities are under suspicion of corruption since the board of directors includes a close friend of Vladimir Putin.
A very strong opposition of environmental organizations, the local community and press has mobilized. Protest activities have lead to high levels of violence: including threats against protesters, the beating up journalists; riots; and the murder of a lawyer and a journalist*.
Protests activities over the past 3 years have lead to the reduction of the deforestation area to 100 ha and the glade width to 100 meters, approval of a forest regeneration area of 500 hectares and payment of environmental compensation.
*Violence against journalists and public figures – chronology: - May 2007: the car of the Chief Editor of the newspaper “Khimkinskaja Pravda” Mikhail Beketov is burned (Beketov wrote a lot of articles against the project highlighting corruption and environmental problems), - November 2008: Attack on Beketov: he was found near his home in a coma with numerous serious injuries, - January 2009: lawyer Stanislav Markelov (was acting for Beketov in lawsuit against his articles about the project) and journalist Anastasia Baburova (took part in the protests against the project in the year 2008) were shot in the center of Moscow (the murder also might be related to his work on another case on nationalism), - January 2009: Attack on Alexey Parfenev – journalist and activist in the Movement for Khimki forest protection (he was beaten by his house entrance), - September 2010: Attack on Konstantin Fetisov: organizer and active participator in protests against the project (he was beaten), - November 2010: Second attack on Konstantin Fetisov, - November 2010: Attack on journalist Mikhail Kashin, he was beaten, got very serious injuries.
In all the cases the culprits were not found.