Russia: “Police allow thugs a free hand in attacking peaceful protests”

Letter of protest by Joe Higgins MEP to Russian Ambassador

Below, we publish the text of a letter of protest, sent by Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) MEP to the Russian ambassador, following a brutal attack on CWI members after a peaceful environmental protest (see previous article). Please continue to send messages of protest.

Dear Ambassador Timoshkin,

I wish to bring to your urgent attention a recent violent attack against social activists in Moscow and seek your assistance in protesting to the relevant authorities.

On Saturday, August 7, there was a peaceful protest in the centre of Moscow by concerned citizens over the proposed construction of a major new road through the Khimkinskii Forest, part of Moscow’s green belt. The French based multinational, Vinci, has been given the contract for this project.

Following the end of this protest, three participants were brutally attacked by a group of about 15 thugs, armed with a baseball bat. I am informed that these thugs were dressed similarly to those who attacked the environmentalist camp at the Khimkinskii Forest earlier in the week. I am also informed, and very disturbed to learn, that the police stood aside while this attack on the camp was taking place.

The Moscow attack took place on Chsty Prudy Boulevard. The victims are associates of mine through the Committee for a Workers’ International, to which the Socialist Party in Ireland is affiliated. IGOR YASIN was badly beaten and is detained in hospital with a serious skull injury. GEORGY EPSTEIN was also injured and has made a complaint to the police.

I am aware that these are not isolated incidents as attacks on environmental campaigners and activists who defend trade union and workers rights have become increasingly frequent in Russia.

The fact that the police allow thugs a free hand in attacking peaceful protests would suggest that the authorities wish to use them to intimidate protesters which would constitute a very serious breach of the State’s obligation to protest the human rights of citizens. You must know, however, that repression has never succeeded in breaking the spirit of ordinary Russian citizens to struggle for a better society.

I intend to raise this matter in the European Parliament as well as amongst workers and activists in Ireland and internationally and will be keeping a close eye on further developments. I should be very grateful, however, if you would look into the points I have raised in this letter, seek an explanation from the relevant authorities and revert back to me at your convenience.

Yours sincerely,


Joe Higgins MEP

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August 2010