Repressions continue against the local residents and environmental activists
struggling against nickel mining in Central Russia
Feb. 16, 2013 – in the Khoper area (Voronezh region, Central Russia) the anti-nickel activists Konstantin Rubakhin and Nelly Rudchenko have been house-checked by the police.
The police inspected the residencies of Konstantin Rubakhin, coordinator of the “Save Khoper!” ecological movement (http://savekhoper.ru/), and Nelly Rudchenko, the activist of an action group against the extraction of nickel in the Khoper Region.
Earlier the activists Rubakhin and Rudchenko had been interrogated as witnesses in connection with the criminal case (art. 115 part 2, initiated by the request of the General Director of “Voronezhgeologia» Yuri Kopeikin; for details: http://savekhoper.ru/?p=1593. The ecological activists, local residents, and Cossacks tried to stop the illegal works of the geological exploration mining on February 08, 2013, in return the LLC Mednogorsky Copper and Sulfur Plant tries to initiate a criminal case against them).
House-check of the witnesses Rubakhin and Rudchenko was conducted by agents of the Anti-extremism Department and was aiming at the retrieval of any data connected with activities of environmental activists defending the nature of the
At the domicile of Rubakhin the police withdrew a photo camera flash drive, half a kilogram of a seeds of lawn grass, 2 tubes of pharmaceuticals left from his deceased grand-mother, as well as three reels of tape for a tape recorder.
During the house-check the police didn’t allow Konstantin Rubakhin to wait for his legal defender to come and kept Nelly Rudchenko outside of her house with the temperatures down to minus 9C – only in her indoor dress, without a proper winter coat – for more than 1.5 hours.
Local residents learned about the house-check of the activists and gathered at the houses of Rudchenko and Rubakhin.
After five hours of check, by 8 pm the search at Rudchenko’s was over. By 10 pm Rubakhin have been let free by the police.
For the overall context on the repressions and the policy of frightening the activists: http://savekhoper.ru/?p=1593
The possibility of nickel mining in Central Russia’s agricultural area, rich with the famous Black Soils and famous by its Red list species, including the very rare Russian desman, represent a risk of a highly hazardous ecological pollution. Since December 2011 when the nickel mining project was launched by Vladimir Putin, the anti-nickel grass-roots activity has been on the rise. Local residents of Novokhopersk town and other parts of the region, as well as the Cossacks, voiced their strong protests again the planned nickel mining.
Throughout all of the year 2012 local population used all possible peaceful and legitimate means to express their opinion: by numerous meetings that raised up more than 85% of the local population, collecting more than 50,000 signatures against the nickel project, appealing to Russian Federal (the Civic Chamber) and local (Voronezh Governor) authorities – with no visible results.
The activists suspect that the house-checks have been conducted in order to try to accuse them later in with the “preparation of the extremist activities”: in the same manner as, earlier this year, another Russian environmental activist Suren Gazaryan was sentenced under a pretext of some “criminal damage” (http://news.am/eng/news/110402.html).