Celebrity support and public outrage have failed to keep a highway from being built through one of the few forests left in the Moscow region. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who lifted activists' hopes when he halted the road construction in August, has now given the work the green light to go ahead.Medvedev said Tuesday through a spokeswoman that construction of the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway is too far advanced to be stopped and will run through the Khimki Forest as originally planned," The Moscow Times reported this week.
$8-Billion Highway Through a 1,000-Acre Forest
The Russian president's statement comes after the commission he set up in August to consider alternative routes -- a move seen by environmentalists as a victory -- recommended that the $8-billion highway run through the 1,000-acre forest as originally planned.
According to The Moscow Times, the commission chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, said the decision could "not be decided by ecological factors alone" and that "from a legal point of view the specified route is completely justified."
Protesters Attacked And Intimidated
Sixty-five percent of Russians reportedly object to running the road through the forest, a plan opposed by Russian rock legend and social activist Yuri Shevchuk, among many others. Environmentalists, who have camped out in the forest to halt bulldozers and have faced attacks and intimidation threats, were unimpressed by plans to plan replacement trees and limit roadside development in the forest.
Protests of the decision are planned for Dec. 31.
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