Alexa

Suspects in attack on Russian activist arrested

Suspects in attack on Russian activist arrested

Russian investigators arrested two men suspected of brutally beating an environmental activist and a government official who is believed to have ordered the attack, and a court on Wednesday ordered them held in custody at least until the end of the week.
Environmental activist Konstantin Fetisov, who campaigned against a controversial road construction project in the Moscow suburb of Khimki and accused officials of corruption, has been hospitalized since the November attack.
Russia has seen a wave of assaults on journalists and activists, including many connected to the Khimki controversy, and in most cases the perpetrators are never found. In the rare cases when those who carried out the attacks are brought to justice, those who ordered the attacks remain unidentified.
The arrest this week of Andrei Chernyshev, who heads the Khimki municipal property department, suggests that the federal government could be moving to shake up the city government.
All three suspects were taken to a Khimki court Wednesday for a hearing on investigators' request to keep them in custody pending trial. The court, however, ruled that the investigators had not yet provided sufficient evidence and gave them until Friday to do so.
Local activists have been fighting for years against plans to construct a highway through the Khimki forest and open up land along the route for development. Road construction is widely acknowledged to be one of the most corrupt sectors of Russia's economy, with numerous opportunities for kickbacks.
The RIA Novosti news agency said Wednesday, citing an unidentified investigator, that those arrested could also have been involved in a similar attack two years ago on a Khimki journalist, Mikhail Beketov, who was left brain-damaged and lost a limb.
A fourth suspected attacker also was detained, the state news agency said, citing the same official.
In August, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the construction suspended so the route could be reassessed, but earlier this month, the Kremlin decided to allow the construction to go ahead along the original route. Those involved in the construction are reported to have high-level government connections.


Updated : 2021-03-02 16:29 GMT+08:00