MOSCOW, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Residents of Domodedovo, Russia, say they have declared the city south of Moscow an independent republic and asked for recognition from the European Union.
The 96,000 or so residents have declared the city the Russian Democratic Republic, RIA Novosti reported.
In a letter to the EU Monday, the Russian Lawyers Association for Human Rights said a group of activists in the city wanted to be integrated into the EU, recognized by other countries and given special status within the Russian Federation with the right to self-determination.
The group was angered by being ignored by Russian authorities after nearly 100 percent of the city's voters said in 2007 they didn't want a toll highway built through the town, which is near the country's largest international airport.
Yevgeny Arkhipov, an attorney for the group, said residents had become "guests" in their own city, alleging the community had been taken over by criminals and corrupt officials who had seized property from the lawful owners and even forced people to pay for gathering mushrooms and berries in nearby forests.
Activist Marina Zlotnikova said she had seen members of an Azerbaijani "criminal community" pressure local residents about their opposition to the expansion of the tollway.