Evgenia Chirikova recently testified before the European Parliament on Vinci’s role in the St. Petersburg-Moscow toll motorway project which threatens to destroy the Khimki forest. Vinci is a French company that Chirikova claims is wrought with corruption and special interests.
Chirikova’s team supported their testimony with a graphic photo exhibition documenting the arrest and use of violence against protestors. Captions on the photos read “approved by Vinci.”
According to Chirikova’s org Save Khimki Forest, the hearing represents an unprecedented step in EU/Russia relations, a step which activist see as one in the right direction.
Chirikova’s team also celebrated a victory last month as the US Senate passed the Magnitsky Bill, formally known as the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The bipartisan bill is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who implicated Russian officials of tax fraud. Magnitsky was arrested and tortured while in police custody, where he eventually died.
The bill seeks to “impose visa and banking restrictions on Russian officials implicated in human rights abuses,” a move that Putin and many inside the Russian government do not welcome. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko said, “the effect on [US/Russia] relations will be extremely negative.”
For all those who wish to protect whistleblowers and increase accountability in Russia, however, the Senate’s approval of the bill is a victory.