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Touching a nerve-- Bono quietly maintains the U2 status quo


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Hi! I originally wrote this in the Moscow in the Rain picture thread, but realized that is probably not fair to XtraSpicy, so I will start another thread.  :-)  Those pictures are just exceptional, though!


I am curious about what anyone may think about the toes that may be stepped on this leg of the tour?   As far as I know, the last legs were very sedate--politically speaking--with common themes taking center-stage:  Africa, Aids, Poverty and Burma.


But,  Bono singing New Years Day in the rain in Moscow against a backdrop of activist arrests (and other violent upheavals in the country), as well as a polite warning over tea from Putin's mouthpiece, and a duet with a vocal Kremlin critic, is just too perfect a confluence of events to not step back and appreciate the morose synergy so beautifully and indirectly captured in those rain photos.  I just had to start a discussion!  


Poor Bono. I understand him not speaking out though. Combating aids and poverty is his message, and he is staying on it. Besides, piddling with Putin is a precarious proposition....

 

If there are any of you who may live in Moscow, I am just curious if there has been much follow up in the media (or on the streets) to these events? Particularly, have there been any murmurs about Bono giving a microphone to Yuri Shevchuk, who I understand the authorities unplugged and silenced at a protest concert a few days before?  What about his shout-out to Gorbachev?


I am very curious to see how the Turkey show goes, and what, if any, response will come in response to the either Iranian or Arabic imagery on the projections (I am not sure which it is, or if they are simply Islamic icons more broadly).  Does anyone know what the accompanying text says?  I am not even sure if it is written in Farsi or Arabic.

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Thanks, XS.  Yeah, I would be interested to hear if anyone has any thoughts on this or if anyone has heard any more about the Moscow show. I really got a charge from the NYD in the rain performance.  I wish I were going to be in Istanbul.
well you can watch that concert right here on the live thread, when that show comes up...its only for paid members, so why dont you join up?

 

sometimes we also get a live video feed too, and its so incredible to watch the boys as they go along on the tour...

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Hi.  So, I just wanted to give an update on this whole Khimiki Forest issue in Russia (the name sounds like a fairytale forest, doesn't it?!)

You may recall that Russian singer and activist Yuri Shevchuk was invited onto the stage during the Moscow show.  This whole issue is a smoldering focal point reflecting the dissident and civil-society actions (and the difficulty of staging them) in Russia.  I just wanted to add a couple of articles for anyone who may be interested.

The first is from the New York Times and was published shortly after the U2 show in August.  The second is from the Washington Post today.

I think U2 should not retire. wink.gif

Kremlin Relents, for Now, to Foes of Highway

By MICHAEL SCHWIRTZ
Published: August 26, 2010

 RUSSIA-articleInline.jpg

U2 frontman Bono, left, talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev about opposition to a controversial highway project.

MOSCOW â€” For years, environmentalists have risked arrests and sometimes beatings by the police and masked plainclothes thugs in their efforts to halt the construction of a highway linking Moscow to St. Petersburg that they say would destroy theKhimki Forest, one of the few remaining in the Moscow region.

Typically in Russia, such efforts lead to little but holding cells or worse for proponents of a cause. But supporters of the KhimkiForest were handed a surprising victory on Thursday when President Dmitri A. Medvedev reacted to the public outcry. He postponed construction of the highway. “Given the number of appeals, I have made a decision,†Mr. Medvedev said in a message on his video blog. “I order the government to halt the implementation of the decision to build this highway and conduct further civic and expert discussions.â€

He added, “These have already been conducted, but taking into account heightened resonance this issue has had in society, I do not see anything wrong with returning to these discussions.â€

The triumph came not a moment too soon for environmentalists and their supporters. Workers had already begun to clear sections of the forest this summer and had planned to resume in October.

“This has flabbergasted us. It was completely unexpected,†said Sergei Ageyev, a member of the environmental group leading the opposition to the highway. “It is simply a stunning victory for civil society.â€

The decision does not definitively halt construction, but was nevertheless surprising given the strong-arm tactics employed against opponents. During protests in the forest this summer, gangs of masked men attacked environmentalists, beating several. The police have detained others.

Mikhail Beketov, an investigative journalist and outspoken opponent of the highway, was savagely attacked by unidentified men in November 2008 and is now severely brain damaged.

At issue is the fate of a 2,500-acre oak forest, north of Moscow in the town of Khimki.Vladimir V. Putin, the current prime minister and Mr. Medvedev’s mentor, signed an order for the construction of a new highway traversing the forest when he was still president.

Top officials in the federal government and the powerful governor of the Moscow region have backed the idea as the simplest and most cost effective way to strengthen transportation links between Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s two largest cities.

Few dispute the need. Currently, the trip by car is a treacherous 430-mile drive on a potholed road populated with aggressive truck drivers and bribe-seeking traffic police officers. The journey can take 10 hours or more.

Environmentalists have called for building the new highway close to the existing road, which runs through an industrial zone. Building the highway through the forest, they say, would disrupt the ecological balance of Moscow, which depends on a shrinking belt of green space around it to help filter air pollution.

“This forest is our air,†Yevgenia Chirikova, the leader of a protest movement, said in an interview at a recent demonstration. “If this highway goes through the Khimki Forest, a hole will be punched in the protective ring.â€

This summer’s 100-degree temperatures, along with the huge wildfires that blanketed Moscow and the surrounding region with noxious smoke, seem to have persuaded officials to look anew at the arguments of environmentalists, especially since their calls to save the forest seem to have resonated with many residents of this city and beyond.

More than 2,000 people gathered in central Moscow for a protest against the construction plans last weekend, an exceptionally large turnout here. And last month, hundreds of people raided the Khimki mayor’s office, throwing rocks and smoke bombs in retaliation for earlier attacks on environmentalists defending the forest.

Environmentalists might also have gained a little help from Bono, the U2 frontman. He was in Moscow for a concert on Wednesday, and, after a meeting with Mr. Medvedev, the Interfax news agency reported, offered the Khimki Forest protectors his support.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: August 31, 2010

An article on Friday about a surprise decision by President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia to postpone construction of a highway that opponents argued would destroy a rare patch of forest near Moscow misstated the date of a concert there by the rock group U2, whose frontman, Bono, met with Mr. Medvedev ahead of the announcement. The concert was on Wednesday, not last Tuesday.

A version of this article appeared in print on August 27, 2010, on page A4 of the New York edition.

 

 

Trying tosave a forest, and change Russia  PH2010101505343.jpg

By Kathy Lally

Washington Post Foreign Service 

Saturday, October 16, 2010; 9:09 PM

MOSCOW -- Protesters here endure arrests and beatings but rarely seechange. So the few movements that have taken on the authorities and forced themto back down have raised intriguing possibilities about a different kind of Russia.

Today's battle rages over KhimkiForest just outside Moscow, where 200-year-old oaks stand so thick and silentthat traffic from the nearby highway sounds like the hum of a lazy mosquito,leaves fall to the ground with a veritable clatter and iPhones warble in theair.

The phones belong to YevgeniaChirikova and Yaroslav Nikitenko, who are trying to prevent construction of a Moscow-to-St. Petersburghighway through the 2,500-acre forest. As a warm October sun dapples the treeswith light, they guide two television crews and a newspaper reporter among theoaks, while sending e-mails, giving interviews and arranging news conferenceson their phones.

Their Defenders of Khimki Forestmovement has persuaded President Dmitry Medvedev to temporarily halttree-felling and reassess the project, which has had powerful proponents,including Yuri Luzhkov, who was fired as Moscow'smayor after publicly criticizing Medvedev's decision.

Khimki, where the czars oncehunted, has all the drama, sweep and conflict of a Russian opera. Its cast offolk heroes includes Chirikova, who lives in a 1960s apartment block close tothe forest and started the campaign a few years ago after she noticed strangemarkings on trees.

The editor of the localnewspaper, Mikhail Beketov, took up the cause and was so viciously beaten inNovember 2008 that he has been hospitalized ever since, unable to talk, halfparalyzed. His attorney, Stanislav Markelov, a human rights activist, was shotand killed on a Moscowstreet in January 2009. Over the summer, two young men in a crowd that brokewindows and spray-painted slogans on the Khimki City Hallwere jailed and face seven years in prison.

The highway has been undertakenby Russia's TransportationMinistry, run by Igor Levitin, who is on the board of the nearby Sheremetyevo Airport as well as Aeroflot, thenational airline based there. The construction industry, built on corruption,wants the work. Regional officials want development opportunities.

"Here you see the dream ofthe Russian bureaucrat," said Chirikova, gesturing at the forest."It's a Klondike for them."

How the story ends may leave Russia on thepath toward developing a civil society - or not.

Building amovement

Chirikova, a 33-year-old whoradiates energy with every smile, started writing letters four years ago. Thatcampaign evolved into ordinary people camping in the forest, blockingbulldozers with their bodies and being arrested at rallies. The movementeventually won support from Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the RussianFederation of Car Owners and in August filled Moscow's Pushkin Square with a few thousanddemonstrators, along with rock stars and prominent opposition leaders.

"That was our mainvictory," said Nikitenko, a 22-year-old physics graduate student from Moscow. "Therehadn't been such a demonstration for years."

A similar style movement arose in2005, when pensioners took to the streets, compelling the authorities to backoff changes in their meager benefits. The next year outraged drivers helpedfree a motorist in Siberia who was sentencedto four years in jail because he failed to get out of the way of the speedinggovernor, who hit a tree and died. Earlier this year, Muscovites fended off thedestruction of their homes, targeted for a park project.

"I think it is an importantexperiment for this country," said Dmitri V. Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center."Russians are watching, and they are learning how to stand up for theirinterests."

Trenin calls the political system"authoritarian with the consent of the governed."

"Political freedom doesn'tdepend on the Kremlin," he said. "It depends on the attitude of thepeople." Most have been busy fashioning comfortable nests after years ofSoviet deprivation. "They tend to limit their activities to the privatedomain. Everyone is for himself in this country."

Soviet rule imparted a sense ofhelplessness - only 14 percent think they can influence governmental decisions,according to Denis Volkov, director of development for the Levada Center,a polling and market research firm, and 62 percent say they avoid contact withthe authorities. When asked about democracy, no one mentions freedom of speechor assembly. "The first thing they say is a high standard of living,"he said.

So far, said James F. Collins, aformer U.S. ambassador to Russia,successful activists have seized on local issues that have affected peoplepersonally and left them feeling that government has exceeded the bounds ofdecency.

"What we haven't seen is oneof these groups turn into a permanent structure with a life that goes beyondthe issues," said Collins, who directs the Russiaand Eurasia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

They can exist, but are limitedby lack of money and ways to share their hard-won experience. "They arenot NGOs, which can be banned," said Karine Clement, a French sociologist,referring to nongovernmental organizations. "It's impossible to ban amovement. They are only people."

Grass rootsstart to show

Sergei V. Kanaev,who heads the Moscow office of the Russian Federation of Car Owners, lamentsthat protecting motorists abused by authorities comes down to writing letters."We won't seek foreign money," he said. "The next thing you knowI'll be accused of working for the CIA."

Alexander Talyshkin, a77-year-old Khimki native, cherishes the woods and hopes the people will beheard. A ring road built in the 1960s destroyed much of the forest he knew.

"Now they want to finish itoff," said Talyshkin, who was among a steady stream of people fetchingspring water and gathering mushrooms on a recent day.

"Here in Russia youeither stay at home and suffer," said Chirikova, "or you pick upsticks and cut the boyar's throat. There has been nothing in between. Now wehave shown that society is not dead. The grass roots are appearing."

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So...here is an update from the beginning of November on the fate of two Russian journalists and an activist involved with covering the attempts to build a highway through Khimki Forest.  Note:  Video and text are separate reports by different news agencies.

Russian Journalist Beaten Up, Second One In 2 Days

by�THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

text size�A�A�A
MOSCOW�November 8, 2010, 02:57 pm ET

A reporter for a suburban Moscow paper was beaten up Monday, two days after another Moscow journalist was bludgeoned on the head, arms and legs in a brutal attack that was captured on video and has caused a national uproar.

No motivation for either attack has been determined, but both men wrote about efforts to stop developers from cutting down trees in forests around Moscow to build highways. In addition, an opposition activist also trying to protect the Khimki forest near Moscow had his skull fractured in assault last week.

Road construction is considered one of the most corrupt sectors in Russia, offering huge profits to the businesses and officials involved who may see the journalists and activists as a direct threat to their bank accounts.

Police in the Moscow suburb of Zhukovsky said they were investigating the attack on Anatoly Adamchuk by two men outside his weekly newspaper office early Monday. Adamchuk was hospitalized with a concussion, a colleague wrote on the website of the paper, Zhukovskiye Vesti.

Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin was beaten so badly early Saturday that he had to be put into a drug-induced coma, suffering a head injury, a shattered jaw and a broken leg. His hands were so mangled that a joint of his left pinky was missing.

capt.photo_1289229811390-1-0.jpg?x=213&y=184&xc=1&yc=1&wc=409&hc=353&q=85&sig=rOJdWYUSa53VNCc.qGZrig--

"The United States condemns the attack on" on Kashin, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington on Monday, "and calls on Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice."

Russia has seen a wave of assaults on journalists and activists, and in most cases the perpetrators are never found. President Dmitry Medvedev, who has promised to crack down on corruption and strengthen the rule of law, has ordered that Kashin's attackers be found and punished. On Monday he said it was clear that Kashin was attacked for his work.

"It's not the way wallets usually get stolen," Medvedev said on television.

Kommersant, which focuses on business and politics, is one of Russia's major mainstream papers.

Kashin's wife, Yevgeniya Milova, said doctors are being extremely cautious in their prognosis. "We have no idea how long he will remain in a coma," she said on television.

Security camera footage posted Monday on YouTube purportedly shows the horrific attack on Kashin, who was jumped by two men outside his apartment building when he came home.

The grainy video appears to show a man with a bouquet of flowers punching Kashin in the face. A second man emerges from the shadows and the two pound the journalist with at least 50 blows, some with an unidentified weapon. The attackers leave in a hurry and the man on the ground tries to stand up but falls back to the ground.

Kashin had written on a wide range of issues, but among the more contentious was the efforts by environmentalists and opposition activists to protect the Khimki forest from being cleared for a new highway. Medvedev in August ordered the highway construction suspended, but there has been no final decision on the fate of the highway.

If the highway project is killed or if the road is built elsewhere, those who have invested in the project stand to lose out financially. The Khimki administration may also need to compensate investors.

Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin said Monday that he suspects the attack on Kashin is connected with the Khimki forest controversy.

"If you look at the particular style and brutality of the attack, it could be connected with this," Mikhailin said.

Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was among the first to raise public awareness about the forest, was severely beaten in 2008.

The successes of the Khimki campaign have inspired similar efforts, including one in Zhukovsky, where another highway is planned through a forest.

Adamchuk's newspaper has published critical reports about the construction plans, and last week Adamchuk wrote about schoolchildren who were detained by police after tying ribbons around trees in the forest. A rally to protest the highway construction is planned for Sunday in Zhukovsky.

Kashin's most obvious connection to the Khimki controversy was an interview he did in August with an anonymous blogger who claimed to head a group that ransacked the Khimki administration building in July.

The Kremlin youth group Molodaya Gvardiya, or Young Guard, took exception to the interview at the time, saying journalists should turn in criminals rather than interview them. The headline of the youth group's website article was "Traitor Journalists Must Be Punished!"

After Kashin was attacked, the group rejected any suspicions it was involved, posting a note expressing its "extreme sorrow" at the "barbarous attack."

"There is a civilized political battle and then there is out-and-out criminality ... we call upon everybody to understand this," the note said.

Associated Press writers David Nowak and Lynn Berry in Moscow and Desmond Butler in Washington contributed to this report

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So...here is an update from the beginning of November on the fate of two Russian journalists and an activist involved with covering the attempts to build a highway through Khimki Forest.  Note:  Video and text are separate reports by different news agencies.

Russian Journalist Beaten Up, Second One In 2 Days

by�THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

text size�A�A�A
MOSCOW�November 8, 2010, 02:57 pm ET

A reporter for a suburban Moscow paper was beaten up Monday, two days after another Moscow journalist was bludgeoned on the head, arms and legs in a brutal attack that was captured on video and has caused a national uproar.

No motivation for either attack has been determined, but both men wrote about efforts to stop developers from cutting down trees in forests around Moscow to build highways. In addition, an opposition activist also trying to protect the Khimki forest near Moscow had his skull fractured in assault last week.

Road construction is considered one of the most corrupt sectors in Russia, offering huge profits to the businesses and officials involved who may see the journalists and activists as a direct threat to their bank accounts.

Police in the Moscow suburb of Zhukovsky said they were investigating the attack on Anatoly Adamchuk by two men outside his weekly newspaper office early Monday. Adamchuk was hospitalized with a concussion, a colleague wrote on the website of the paper, Zhukovskiye Vesti.

Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin was beaten so badly early Saturday that he had to be put into a drug-induced coma, suffering a head injury, a shattered jaw and a broken leg. His hands were so mangled that a joint of his left pinky was missing.

capt.photo_1289229811390-1-0.jpg?x=213&y=184&xc=1&yc=1&wc=409&hc=353&q=85&sig=rOJdWYUSa53VNCc.qGZrig--

"The United States condemns the attack on" on Kashin, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington on Monday, "and calls on Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice."

Russia has seen a wave of assaults on journalists and activists, and in most cases the perpetrators are never found. President Dmitry Medvedev, who has promised to crack down on corruption and strengthen the rule of law, has ordered that Kashin's attackers be found and punished. On Monday he said it was clear that Kashin was attacked for his work.

"It's not the way wallets usually get stolen," Medvedev said on television.

Kommersant, which focuses on business and politics, is one of Russia's major mainstream papers.

Kashin's wife, Yevgeniya Milova, said doctors are being extremely cautious in their prognosis. "We have no idea how long he will remain in a coma," she said on television.

Security camera footage posted Monday on YouTube purportedly shows the horrific attack on Kashin, who was jumped by two men outside his apartment building when he came home.

The grainy video appears to show a man with a bouquet of flowers punching Kashin in the face. A second man emerges from the shadows and the two pound the journalist with at least 50 blows, some with an unidentified weapon. The attackers leave in a hurry and the man on the ground tries to stand up but falls back to the ground.

Kashin had written on a wide range of issues, but among the more contentious was the efforts by environmentalists and opposition activists to protect the Khimki forest from being cleared for a new highway. Medvedev in August ordered the highway construction suspended, but there has been no final decision on the fate of the highway.

If the highway project is killed or if the road is built elsewhere, those who have invested in the project stand to lose out financially. The Khimki administration may also need to compensate investors.

Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin said Monday that he suspects the attack on Kashin is connected with the Khimki forest controversy.

"If you look at the particular style and brutality of the attack, it could be connected with this," Mikhailin said.

Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was among the first to raise public awareness about the forest, was severely beaten in 2008.

The successes of the Khimki campaign have inspired similar efforts, including one in Zhukovsky, where another highway is planned through a forest.

Adamchuk's newspaper has published critical reports about the construction plans, and last week Adamchuk wrote about schoolchildren who were detained by police after tying ribbons around trees in the forest. A rally to protest the highway construction is planned for Sunday in Zhukovsky.

Kashin's most obvious connection to the Khimki controversy was an interview he did in August with an anonymous blogger who claimed to head a group that ransacked the Khimki administration building in July.

The Kremlin youth group Molodaya Gvardiya, or Young Guard, took exception to the interview at the time, saying journalists should turn in criminals rather than interview them. The headline of the youth group's website article was "Traitor Journalists Must Be Punished!"

After Kashin was attacked, the group rejected any suspicions it was involved, posting a note expressing its "extreme sorrow" at the "barbarous attack."

"There is a civilized political battle and then there is out-and-out criminality ... we call upon everybody to understand this," the note said.

Associated Press writers David Nowak and Lynn Berry in Moscow and Desmond Butler in Washington contributed to this report

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So...here is an update from the beginning of November on the fate of two Russian journalists and an activist involved with covering the attempts to build a highway through Khimki Forest.  Note:  Video and text are separate reports by different news agencies.

Russian Journalist Beaten Up, Second One In 2 Days

by�THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

text size�A�A�A
MOSCOW�November 8, 2010, 02:57 pm ET

A reporter for a suburban Moscow paper was beaten up Monday, two days after another Moscow journalist was bludgeoned on the head, arms and legs in a brutal attack that was captured on video and has caused a national uproar.

No motivation for either attack has been determined, but both men wrote about efforts to stop developers from cutting down trees in forests around Moscow to build highways. In addition, an opposition activist also trying to protect the Khimki forest near Moscow had his skull fractured in assault last week.

Road construction is considered one of the most corrupt sectors in Russia, offering huge profits to the businesses and officials involved who may see the journalists and activists as a direct threat to their bank accounts.

Police in the Moscow suburb of Zhukovsky said they were investigating the attack on Anatoly Adamchuk by two men outside his weekly newspaper office early Monday. Adamchuk was hospitalized with a concussion, a colleague wrote on the website of the paper, Zhukovskiye Vesti.

Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin was beaten so badly early Saturday that he had to be put into a drug-induced coma, suffering a head injury, a shattered jaw and a broken leg. His hands were so mangled that a joint of his left pinky was missing.

capt.photo_1289229811390-1-0.jpg?x=213&y=184&xc=1&yc=1&wc=409&hc=353&q=85&sig=rOJdWYUSa53VNCc.qGZrig--

"The United States condemns the attack on" on Kashin, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in Washington on Monday, "and calls on Russian authorities to bring the perpetrators of this heinous crime to justice."

Russia has seen a wave of assaults on journalists and activists, and in most cases the perpetrators are never found. President Dmitry Medvedev, who has promised to crack down on corruption and strengthen the rule of law, has ordered that Kashin's attackers be found and punished. On Monday he said it was clear that Kashin was attacked for his work.

"It's not the way wallets usually get stolen," Medvedev said on television.

Kommersant, which focuses on business and politics, is one of Russia's major mainstream papers.

Kashin's wife, Yevgeniya Milova, said doctors are being extremely cautious in their prognosis. "We have no idea how long he will remain in a coma," she said on television.

Security camera footage posted Monday on YouTube purportedly shows the horrific attack on Kashin, who was jumped by two men outside his apartment building when he came home.

The grainy video appears to show a man with a bouquet of flowers punching Kashin in the face. A second man emerges from the shadows and the two pound the journalist with at least 50 blows, some with an unidentified weapon. The attackers leave in a hurry and the man on the ground tries to stand up but falls back to the ground.

Kashin had written on a wide range of issues, but among the more contentious was the efforts by environmentalists and opposition activists to protect the Khimki forest from being cleared for a new highway. Medvedev in August ordered the highway construction suspended, but there has been no final decision on the fate of the highway.

If the highway project is killed or if the road is built elsewhere, those who have invested in the project stand to lose out financially. The Khimki administration may also need to compensate investors.

Kommersant editor-in-chief Mikhail Mikhailin said Monday that he suspects the attack on Kashin is connected with the Khimki forest controversy.

"If you look at the particular style and brutality of the attack, it could be connected with this," Mikhailin said.

Khimki journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was among the first to raise public awareness about the forest, was severely beaten in 2008.

The successes of the Khimki campaign have inspired similar efforts, including one in Zhukovsky, where another highway is planned through a forest.

Adamchuk's newspaper has published critical reports about the construction plans, and last week Adamchuk wrote about schoolchildren who were detained by police after tying ribbons around trees in the forest. A rally to protest the highway construction is planned for Sunday in Zhukovsky.

Kashin's most obvious connection to the Khimki controversy was an interview he did in August with an anonymous blogger who claimed to head a group that ransacked the Khimki administration building in July.

The Kremlin youth group Molodaya Gvardiya, or Young Guard, took exception to the interview at the time, saying journalists should turn in criminals rather than interview them. The headline of the youth group's website article was "Traitor Journalists Must Be Punished!"

After Kashin was attacked, the group rejected any suspicions it was involved, posting a note expressing its "extreme sorrow" at the "barbarous attack."

"There is a civilized political battle and then there is out-and-out criminality ... we call upon everybody to understand this," the note said.

Associated Press writers David Nowak and Lynn Berry in Moscow and Desmond Butler in Washington contributed to this report

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