We just received this inspiring and instructive report from anonymous comrades in Russia, describing two years of struggle against logging operations in one of the major forests near Moscow. The struggle culminated this summer in the “Khimki battle,” in which several hundred armed antifascists and anarchists attacked a government building in suburban Moscow; the authorities responded in kind, and subsequent solidarity efforts in Belarus provoked further repression.
Most of the links in this text lead to Russian-language pages; those too busy to teach themselves Russian can at least plug the website addresses into Google translate and struggle through computer-generated translations.
Prelude: A Spiking We Will Go
We learned of Moscow city authorities’ plans to destroy the Khimki forest in summer of 2008, when local environmentalists started an outreach campaign to drum up support for their cause. Even then it was already late, since the forest—one of the three major forests surrounding Moscow—had already been extensively logged and was pockmarked with tumors: cottages for the nouveau-riche, warehouses, parking lots, and malls.
So without a minute to lose, we grabbed some spikes and rushed in. The logging site was patrolled by guards, but their attention was distracted by the official “eco-camp” in front of their cabin so it was easy to sneak in and spike every tree we could get our nails into. This was our first experience of eco-action and it was exciting and inspiring: we didn’t get caught and we accomplished what we had come to do. We were sure that between our action, the constant pressure liberal ecologists were putting on the authorities, and the popular movement gaining momentum in the local suburbs, the tree-killers would retreat and leave the forest for good. Soon we learned better.
The trees were being felled to prepare the way for a massive new road plan authorized by the federal government. High-ranking officials—as high-ranking as Putin himself, we later learned—had a stake in lobbying for the new toll highway to be built right through the forest. The construction was financed by the international syndicate Vinci, headquartered in France, and several European banks working in partnership with the Russian national bank, Sberbank. With such powerful enemies arrayed against the forest and its defenders, the situation turned ugly.