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Russian environmentalist Chirikova flees to Estonia

She is known for her fight to prevent a highway cionstruction project through a forest near Moscow.

By
Ed Adamczyk
Russian environmentalist Yevgenia Chirikova. Photo by Omer Kozbirev/wikimedia
Russian environmentalist Yevgenia Chirikova. Photo by Omer Kozbirev/wikimedia

TALINN, Estonia, April 20 (UPI) -- Yevgenia Chirikova, a prominent Russian environmental activist, fled to Estonia because of government repression, she said.

She told Estonian broadcaster ERR that "repressions against social activists in Russia" prompted her decision, adding, "Above all, I decided to take my main weak spot, my children, out of Russia. Russia is a country of resources, and environmentalists are the main enemy of the established regime of the natural resources oligarchy."

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Chirikova, 38, said she would seek asylum in Estonia.

She is best known for a 2010 campaign to keep a highway from being built through the environmentally fragile Khimki Forest, near Moscow. Her investigation indicated the $8 billion construction project was owned in part by a childhood friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In 2011, she claimed authorities were attempting to remove her two daughters to state custody on false charges of abuse; she was awarded a "woman of courage" award that year by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

In 2012, Chirikova ran unsuccessfully for the mayoralty of the town of Khimki, along the proposed highway's route.

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