Alexa

Russian official arrested in beating of activist

Russian official arrested in beating of activist

A municipal official in a town outside Moscow told a court Friday the investigators pressured him to testify against his boss in the case of beating an environmental activist that caused public outrage.
Environmentalist Konstantin Fetisov, who campaigned against a controversial road project in the Moscow suburb of Khimki and accused officials of corruption, has remained hospitalized and unconscious since the November beating.
Russian news agencies said the Khimki court on Friday approved the arrest of Andrei Chernyshev, the head of the city's municipal property department, who was detained earlier this week. Three other suspects also have been detained.
Chernyshev, suspected of staging the attack, rejected the accusations. A court spokesman couldn't be reached for comment on Friday.
Chernyshev told the court that investigators were pressuring him to testify against the city mayor. "They are threatening me that my wife would become someone else's wife and my children will get a new father," Chernyshev, who has two children, said, according to RIA Novosti.
A similar 2008 attack left reporter Mikhail Beketov brain-damaged and he lost a limb. Both led public protests against the construction of a highway and development projects in a forest at Khimki.
Oleg Kashin, a correspondent for the nation's leading business daily Kommersant who also reported on the Khimki controversy, was the most recent victim _ hit some 50 times by two thugs in a stomach-turning attack last month that was caught on a security camera.
Many commentators pointed finger at the Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko, who has denied any connection to the attacks.
Russia has seen a wave of assaults on journalists and activists, and in most cases the perpetrators are never found. In the rare situations when those who carried out the attacks were brought to justice, those who ordered the attacks remained unidentified.
Chernyshev's arrest signals that the federal government could be moving to shake up the city government. Investigators suspected Chernyshev of fulfilling an unidentified persons' order to attack Fetisov, the RIA Novosti news agency said.
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.
Following a wave of public protests, President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the construction suspended in August so the route could be reassessed, but earlier this month, the Kremlin decided to allow the highway to go ahead along the original route. Those involved in the construction are reported to have high-level government connections.


Updated : 2021-03-01 08:39 GMT+08:00