В своем письме к Европейскому банку реконструкции и развития защитники Химкинского леса предупреждают президента банка Томаса Мироу о том, что участие в скандальном проекте строительства трассы Москва - Санкт-Петербург является опасным для репутации его банка.
В газете также размещено приглашение на акцию по передаче письма в московский офис ЕБРР, которая состоится 16 июля, в четверг, в 15.00, по адресу: Москва, м. "Маяковская", ул. Гашека, 6.
Акция планируется хоть и менее масштабная, чем шествие к офису компании VINCI 30 июня, собравшее несколько сотен человек и огромное число журналистов, но, возможно, решающая. Активисты надеются, что доброе имя для банка окажется важнее, чем сомнительная - в условиях финансового кризиса - прибыль от проекта.
А вот наше письмо в английском варианте:
According to the available information (see app.1), your bank has agreed in principle to take part in financing of the Moscow – St.Petersburg motorway project (section 15-58 km). We, environmental activists from Movement for Conservation of Khimki Forest, got also known that EBRD has already taken part in a few investment projects in Russia, including Macquarie Renaissance Fund as well as co-operation with Troyka-Dialogue investment group.
We strongly support investment activity of your bank in those cases when it contributes to development of modern environment-friendly branches of economy, sustainable development, building of democratic institutions and civilian society.
Unfortunately, the project of new Moscow-St.Petersburg motorway (section 15-58 km) presents a completely opposite case. We are strongly convinced that the relative attractiveness of the project for investments is ensured mainly by harsh destruction of natural environment, unprecedented ignorance of public opinion, violation of Russian and international law as well as by use of chip, dirty and obsolete construction technologies. Here some facts are presented:
It is known that the planned arrangement for the section of the road from 15 to 58 km was first revealed in 2004 by State Customer “FGU DOROGI ROSSII” (State company “Roads of Russia”)- see http://www.mintrans.ru/pressa/Round_Table/bistrov%20rus.pdf . This arrangement included the planned highway passage through the territories of both Moscow and City District of Khimki. Quick view to the attached plan shows that throughout Moscow the road passes in a common transport corridor with existing Oktyabrskaya railroad. But, this direction changes between Moscow and Khimki, where the road turns abruptly to the right (after Businovo interchange). Then it passes through Levoberezhny district of Khimki (just near residential building at Sovkhoznaya str). It should be noted that even here the road is placed in a very environment unfriendly way since it destroys a narrow forest strip that presently separates the residential buildings from a giant landfill. Then, after crossing Moscow-Volga channel, the road passes through Khimki Forest Park.
Khimki Forest Park is a protected natural area with very rich wildlife including relic oak groves. It is a natural habitat for elks, boars and other wild animals . The Forest Park is a part of so-called protective forest park belt around Moscow. It is the only wildlife area in this polluted and overpopulated region (only 5 km from Moscow).
Please note again that the passage of the road was already revealed in 2004. It was much later (in 2005) that a procedure of “preliminary choice” of an area for the road was framed up in a local level (i.e., within City District of Khimki). But even then, Director of Krasnogorsky Spetzleskhoz (local forestry) had refused to sign a protocol on the choice’s result. Then Public Hearings were summoned that appeared to be a sheer falsification. Indeed, first, they were carried out only after the real choice was made. Second, no alternative variant was present, though the presence of such variants was officially recognized.
Moreover, decision on the road passage through Khimki Forest Park was then (2006) officially protested by Chief of Moscow City Forest Department (see app.2). The department was then a special governmental body responsible for use, conservation and protection of city’s forests including Khimki Forest Park. In her response to an official request of State Company “Roads of Russia”, Mrs. Kuznetsova wrote: “Analysis of the chosen way through the forest shows that authors of the decision about the road’s placement have even not tried to minimize assumed damage to the forest park. Therefore, the Department refuses the presented variant of the road passage”.
Regardless such categorical refusal, state customers decided to go on with the project. Namely, a Ruling # 358/16 on “Measures for constriction of highway Moscow-St.Petersburg and development of adjacent regions of Moscow District” was issued on April, 28 2006. From very basic statements of this document one can deduce that the true reason behind the choice of the road through the forest was a “legal” possibility to convert forest’s land into other land categories to use it as a construction ground for various commercial and capital buildings. Indeed, according to the Ruling (as shown on a plan in its appendix), about 2/3 of the forest territory included into zone for transport infrastructure and capital buildings (approx. 600 hectares).
It was only in 2007 where most of Khimki’s population found out about the project due to preliminary survey work that was carried out in the Forest Park. It sparked public outrage and mass protests. Then an informal public movement For the Conservation of Khimki Forest was formed. The activists were terrorized, since local authorities tried to prevent the information from spreading among the population. Few activists were arrested; our meetings and tent camps were systematically attacked – but the movement was still growing. In November 2008 one of our activists, a local journalist Mikhail Beketov, was brutally beaten. As a result, Mikhail became a heavy disabled person; he is still treated in a hospital.
Presently, Ruling 358/16 is cancelled together with preceding rulings on land reservation due to widespread condemnation from public opinion. Nevertheless, the project is not cancelled nor revised. It is quite expectable since the use of the Forest Park territory allows the customers to simplify construction and reduce cost by avoiding any sophisticated modern technical decision. The value of the ecosystem of Khimki Forest Park which would be completely destroyed due to the project is not taken into account.
Environmental danger of the project is officially condemned in strongest terms by a number of state agencies, political parties, NGOs, etc. A few quotations are included in app.2, for more references see our website www.ecmo.ru (in Russian). We mention here just most known statements:
- The Moscow Duma (Parliament of Moscow) voted a petition to the Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin asking him to alter the project so that Khimki Forest be intact;
- The State body for monitoring of ecological problems ‘Rosprirodnadzor’ has repeatedly warned about severe break of law in the case of the road passage through Khimki Forest;
- The Moscow’s State Department for Conservation and Natural Resources has issued statement condemning the project of the highway through Khimki Forest Park territory as destructive for wildlife and ecologically dangerous;
- Most of Russian political parties (but ruling one) made statements against destruction of Khimki Forest Park;
- Greenpeace of Russia asked President Medvedev to alter the highway project in a more environmental friendly way;
- More than 15,000 citizens of Russia as well as of other countries signed petition for the Khimki Forest, against the highway project in its present state. The signatures (app. 3) are passed to Moscow office of EBRD.
In the present state, building of the road is impossible because to the prohibition imposed by the Russian Forest Code (article 105 paragraph 5 part 3) which forbids any capital construction work within protective forests having “Forest Park Zone” (before 17.03.09 – “Forest Park”) category.
Even in case the corrupted bureaucracy would succeed in changing boundaries of the forest park zone (that possibility was successfully lobbied in the new edition of the Forest Code) , the chosen variant remains illegal. Indeed, Article 11 of Federal Law #172-FZ on “Conversion of lands or estates from one category to another”) allows conversion of protective forests into another category for construction only in case no other variant of object’s placement is available. But, according to official statements of Rosavtodor and other bodies responsible for the highway project, other variants were available but refused (see also our leaflet “Khimkinskaya Pravda Zhiva” at http://narod.ru/disk/8689396000/Himk%20pravda%20jiva.pdf in Russian). Therefore, all works linked to the project became illegal since 01/01/07 when the mentioned law came into force.
On the basis of the above, we propose EBRD to deny any financial support to the project, directly or via any intermediary. We are aware that participation in such a project is risky and damaging reputation and hope for your responsible and elaborate decision. Nevertheless, we reserve our right to make all the necessary steps to inform public opinion in Russia as well as in EU about the situation.
On behalf of more than 20 000 people in Russia and abroad signed the petition for conservation of Khimki Forest.