As Evgenia Chirikova walked through the beautiful Khimki birch forest, just north of Moscow, she discovered several trees marked for felling. Chirikova learned that a roadway connecting St Petersburg and Moscow was set to cut the old forest in half – even though other possible routes could have left the protected 2,500-acre reserve untouched.
Difficult and frightening
Chirikova was outraged and – despite the dangers of protest in today's Russia – started to dig deeper. The road had got the go-ahead, she found, because Russian president Vladmir Putin had designed the project and affirmed its legality – in spite of the pre-existing federal mandate to protect the land, once a favourite hunting ground of the czars.
Refusing to accept this destruction, Chirikova – a mother of two who runs an engineering company – helped to found the Save Khimki Forest! movement and began organising protests against the road. That was five years ago. The task has been difficult and frightening: Chirikova has been threatened, and has seen friends savagely beaten for speaking out against the road. But she keeps on fighting, even publicly labelling Putin a “crook”, who was “not in fact re-elected”. (She considers the recent election results fraudulent.)
Taking it global
Evgenia Chirikova’s dedication is inspiring, and she’s been awarded a number of prestigious prizes to help her continue her work. Groups like EarthAction have come forward to help in the fight for Khimki forest, gathering support for the campaign around the world.
In short, Evgenia is a real-life Captain Planet.
Take action: Support Evgenia and other brave activists in their fight to Save Khimki Forest!