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Protestors at Peaceful Protest Camp Brutally Beaten in Khopyor district

13 May 2013 

Source: Save Khopyor 

On the evening of 13 May, local residents taking part in a peaceful protest camp in Novokhopyor district against unlawful attempts to begin geological surveys at the Elan deposit by the Mednogorsky Copper-Sulphur Plant (Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company) were brutally beaten. The protestors were peacefully standing in front of the illegally erected fence. Staff of the 'Patrol' private security firm first opened the gates, and then began to beat the activists. They seized three people, dragged them inside the fenced-off area, at the same time pushing back other activists and the police. Having shut the gates, they collectively beat the activists behind the fence, a number of whom them later threw over the two-meter high metal fence.

Igor Zhitenev, ataman of the Novokhopyor cultural and ethnic community, lost consciousness as a result of being beaten. He has concussion, broken ribs and damage to his skull.

Activists had teeth knocked out and broken noses. Those injured are being examined by doctors to establish the extent of their injuries.

As of 23.00 on 13 May, the beating of local residents is continuing. The private security guards are using electric shock devices and throwing bricks at the protestors. Two of the activists have been injured in the head by stones. Riot police have been called out from Voronezh.

At 23:10, two more environmental activists have head injuries. About ten residents have been seriously injured. 

Read the latest news about what is happening here

On 11 May activists set up a peaceful camp at the location of the Elan deposit. On the morning of 12 May they stopped the erection of a five-kilometer-long fence, with concrete foundations, on agricultural land.

The camp was set up on the territory of the Elan and Elkin deposits in Novokhopyor district because of the large-scale illegal works on agricultural land: attempts to set up a substantial fence, to begin construction, and the large-scale felling of trees without permission within the fenced-off area and other violations. Police patrols from Novokhopyor district are continuously monitoring these illegal actions but they do not take any measures to stop these violations.

On the morning of 13 May in the town of Novokhopyorsk in Voronezh region protestors went on hunger strike against the plans to begin mining non-ferrous metals in the Black Earth region. The first person to go on hunger strike in Novokhopyorsk town centre was Aleksandr Dolgoryatov, a member of the local Cossack community. Over the coming week a number of other local residents are planning to join the hunger strike.

The hunger strikers and those at the protest camp are demanding a total ban on the mining of non-ferrous metals in the Black Earth region, implementation of a plan for the sustainable development of the area around the Khopyo, attracting investment in agriculture and tourism.

They are convinced that they are defending the interests of the country, their constitutional rights, Russian laws, they are caring about nature and the future of their children, and fighting for the sustainable social and economic development for the whole of the Black Earth region, an area which is capable of feeding the whole country.