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FINROSFORUM Appealed in Defence of Khimki Forest


The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.

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FINROSFORUM board members Mikael Storsjö (left), Kerkko Paananen, and Ville Ropponen.
(Photo: Jouko Kämäräinen.)

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) conveyed an appeal in support of the campaign to defend Khimki Forest, near Moscow, to the French Embassy in Helsinki on 1 March 2011. At the same time, the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest (EcoOborona) delivered its appeal to the office of the French construction group, Vinci, in Moscow. Below, the text of FINROSFORUM’s appeal to the French Ambassador in Finland:

Dear Ambassador!

The Russian Movement to Defend Khimki Forest has appealed to the French construction group, Vinci, to withdraw from a project to build a motorway through Khimki Forest, near Moscow. The forest is a birch free forest that covers an area of around 1,000 hectares. It is part of the so-called “Green Belt” around Moscow, and is a popular recreation area for residents in and around Moscow. The forest is now in danger of being destroyed because of the project to build the Moscow-St Petersburg motorway.

The project to build the motorway through Khimki Forest has been a subject of intense debate and public protests for years. Under public pressure, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered a halt to the construction works in August 2010. Yet in December 2010, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin´s government decided to resume construction and to build the motorway through the historic forest. The motorway project has entailed gross illegalities, large-scale corruption, and harsh suppression of civil society.

The Moscow-St Petersburg motorway project is in clear violation of the principles of corporate social responsibility that the French construction group, Vinci, has adhered to. The group has vied for road building contracts in Finland as well. If the corporation fails to respect environmental rights and the rights of local residents in Russia, how can we be sure that it respects those rights in Finland?

We appeal to the French government that it would exert pressure on Vinci to refrain from the neo-colonialist policy of cooperating with local corrupt elites to the detriment of the environment ane the rights of local residents to decent living conditions. Please find enclosed the appeal of the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest. The movement has today submitted the appeal to the Russian office of Vinci in Moscow.

Helsinki, 1 March 2011


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