St. Petersburg PPP toll motorway- Moscow Russian Federation
This dodgy deal is updated regularly
Protesting the project after trees were found cut down. Source: Save Khimki Forest!
The first section of the Moscow
- St Petersburg PPP toll motorway project encompasses the construction of 43 km
of motorway. The proposed highway would start at the MKAD (Moscow Ring Road) at
km 15 of the Moscow to St Petersburg highway (total length 650 km) and finish
at its 58th km. The project would also include building seven major
interchanges, 37 bridges, and a toll collection system. Read more.
The construction of this
highway is set to cut through the Moscow area's last old-growth forest, the
Khimki forest. Khimki Forest is a protected natural area
with rich wildlife including relic oak groves and elks, boars and other wild animals. The
forest is also extremely important to local people living in this polluted and
densely populated region. Local people have come together to oppose the currently
planned routing of the road as the "Movement to Defend Khimki Forest".
Regardless of various forms
of opposition and concern, the project continues to be pushed forward. The more
the project is pushed, however, the more it is generating strong opposition
against the routing through Khimki
2004 - A decision
was taken on building the Moscow - St. Petersburg toll
2005 - Option
3 (passing through Khimki
Forest, see map below)
was chosen behind closed doors. Dummy Public
Hearings were arranged - as it was found out later, on a different project - the
MRAR-Sheremetyevo-3 road. People only found out at the hearing itself where
they could read the environmental impact study, so they could not examine it beforehand.
2006 - the
entire territory of the protected Khimki
Forest park was reserved
for the placement of the motorway as well as of "objects of transport
infrastructure and capital construction".
Surveying works were carried out in the forest
park. This was the first time that local people became
aware of the project. A popular movement to defend Khimki Forest
was formed by locals. The new Forest Code forbade any construction works in
forest parks - so any works on route Option 3 became completely illegal.
2008 - The first
public rallies and other manifestations of public discontent took place. An attempt
was made to kill local journalist Mikhail Beketov who wrote a lot about the
problem. Preliminary works on the project still went ahead despite the legal
2009 - New
public hearings showed a strongly negative public attitude toward the routing,
but these results were completely disregarded. Nevertheless, Prime Minister
Putin changed the categorization of Khimki forest to allow the construction of
the motorway. A bill was passed that lifted the constraints on construction
works in forest parks - but only if no alternative options are available, which
is not true in this case. Activists started to discuss the problem with
representatives of the EBRD and EIB. A meeting with EBRD's Board of Directors
took place in Moscow.
The EBRD promised to demand that the concessionaire would ensure a "high level
of public involvement" as a mandatory condition of the EBRD's participation in
minimum, a change of the routing is required. This is complicated by the fact
that the project is being carried out under a PPP model which allows both the
Russian government and the concession company NWCC to refuse to make changes
citing contractual obligations and the high costs of re-negotiating the
contract. Nevertheless it may turn out to be better value for money in the long
term than going ahead with the routing as it stands.
process of attempting to change the routing, various other issues have emerged
which call the whole project and not only the routing into question.
to address these, the following recommendations have been made by Bankwatch:
public deserves answers to the above questions before the project goes any
further. The Russian government must disclose the existing concession agreement
and re-examine NWCC's structure, final beneficiaries and tax contributions if the
project is to bring any public benefits. The full structure of the company must
be made public, including the shareholders of the British Virgin Islands and if
companies. The Russian government must also re-examine whether the decisions to
award NWCC the concession and to continue with the originally planned routing
in December 2010 were taken as a result of careful deliberations, or rather as
a result of nepotism or lobbying.
Although the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development is not currently involved in the
project, and the project appraisal process at the European Investment Bank is
also not proceeding, there are still lessons to be learnt from their earlier
project appraisal processes. In the future they need to step up their project
appraisal to screen out such un-transparent projects at a much earlier stage.
Those banks which remain involved in the project - Sberbank and Vnesheconombank
- likewise need to re-assess the risk they are taking on by financing an
This project has several social impacts attached to it. Some
of these issues include:
impact on one of the few remaining natural public spaces in the Moscow area and therefore
on the quality of life of the Khimki residents
and disempowerment of civil society dashes the remaining trust of the dedicated
part of society in governmental institutions and splits society
of major public interests: According to a
poll by the Levada Center in September 2010, 76% of Khimki residents are against the felling of Khimki Forest.
Another poll in August 2010 showed that 67 percent of Muscovites oppose sacrificing
the Khimki Forest
near Moscow for
the construction of the new road.
The 43-kilometer road section
will slice through the heart of Khimki
Forest, located between Moscow City
and the Sheremetyevo airport. The Khimki
Forest park is a protected natural area of about 1600 hectares with very rich wildlife including relic oak
groves and is a natural habitat for elks, boars and other animals. The Khimki forest has existed in
its current size since at least the end of XVIII century, and is classed as an
old-growth forest. According to Russian
Federal laws, Forest Parks are not to be used for anything other than
is an important natural recreation area for people living in the north of Moscow.
A range of crimes, including assaults resulting in
permanent invalidity, attempted murder, beatings and robberies committed
against members of the Movement to Defend Khimki forest in the last 3 years
still remain uninvestigated.
Instead of carrying out their duties of law enforcement, police are acting in a lawless way
against activists. Detained activists who try to stop illegal forest cutting
report violations of their rights and arbitrary treatment by the police,
including denial of access to lawyers.
various forms of pressure put on activists against the routing, in February
2011 the State Guardianship and Khimki
Police tried to launch a procedure to deprive Evgenia Chirikova of her
children. A printed unsigned paper allegedly authored by her neighbours about
Chirikova's "cruelty" toward the children was used as a pretext. The first
check showed that the neighbours did not write the paper, and they denounced
all the allegations in it. Nevertheless, next day the guardianship still tried
to prosecute Evgenia. Calls and petitions from outraged people have apparently
made them to stop the attempt. Nevertheless, Khimki police tried to enter
Chirikova's apartment again on February 27 and March 1.
February 2011 Alla Chernishova, editor of the Movement's website, was arrested by Khimki police and taken to the police
station together with her 4 and 6 year old children. She was falsely accused of planting a 'dummy
bomb' at the site of the forest works and subjected to an extensive
interrogation for several hours. (The 'dummy bomb' has previously been used as
an excuse not to allow a public demonstration to take place at the site). She
was treated in a very rude manner, policemen threatened to deprive her of her
children and to imprison her. She was finally released without charge.
The project has been examined by Transparency International, who
concluded that the project shows signs of corruption in three areas:
Loose interpretation of
the law on changing the status of forest land, without clear criteria.
The low level of
transparency in the project and conflicting information in different official
The conflict of interests
of Russian transport Minister Igor Levitin and former head of the Federal
Agency Roads of Russia, Oleg Shakhov, who in 2009 took up a post as CEO at the Giprodor
Research Institute which was engaged in survey work for the project.
The Khimki forest issue is a precedent case in Russia
going beyond forest protection - it is equally important for the protection of
the environment and for the development of civil society and respect of human
rights in Russia.
The construction of the toll motorway through Khimki
forest has become a symbol of corruption, lawlessness and bad governance which
undermines the rule of law in Russia
and dashes the remaining trust of the dedicated part of society in governmental
institutions and splits society.
construction work through the Khimki Forest is going on since mid-April 2011,
after having temporally been halted by President Medvedev in August 2010
because of the intense public protests. Russian activists have been running a
camp in the forest since April, and have been literally risking lives stopping
with their bodies, heavy trucks and bulldozers over the last months, being
under incessant attacks of private security guards hired to protect the
construction works in the forest have been carried out in a rough contradiction
to the Russian law which demands special permissions for cutting down of any
tree in City District of Khimki as well as in Moscow District as a whole.
Nevertheless, the perpetrators of the works not only failed to produce those
permissions but officially admitted that they had no such permissions at all.
Even the permission to start the construction works (which is not the one
needed for legally cutting trees, which was never been issued up to now) was
obtained in July - i.e., about three mounts later than the works were started
de-facto. Only the extremely high level of corruption, which is typical for
contemporary Russian courts, has not allowed to stop all the works by a
court decision yet. Lawsuits against this project have been submitted by
activists and NGOs almost every month since April - but they have been
repeatedly refused under various formal pretexts. Now the permission for
construction works themselves is to be challenged.
By now, the
fight has got beyond the Khimki Forest itself - just the same conflict is
unfolding in the forests of Solnechnogorsky district which are to be sacrificed
for just the same PPP project. The conflict around Zavidovo National Park will
be inevitable in the future if the next section of the motorway is built
as it is planned now. The root of the problem is that the forests were clearly
considered by the perpetrators of the project (Putin's government among them)
as most useless lands that must be "developed" prior to any others.
project finance: Involved in financing project source: bankwatch.org
The Russian state development
bank, Vneshecononombank, together with Sberbank,
also majority owned by the Russian state, has secured
a syndicated loan, worth 1.05 billion USD for a period of 20 years for the
North West Concession Company. The deal brings questions about the value for
money of using the concept of PPP for this project considering that one of the
main points of public-private-partnerships is to introduce private financing into infrastructure.
European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development undertook appraisal of this project but did not participate in the
financial close in April 2010. While the EBRD has confirmed that it is highly
unlikely that it will now participate in this project, the EIB has been less
forthcoming, merely stating that the project appraisal process is frozen.
The following companies are involved in St. Petersburg PPP toll motorway- Moscow:
North-West Concession Company Moscow (NWCC)
- international -
100 percent owned by Vinci Concessions
Russie SA Rueil Malmaison. Vinci Concessions Russie SA is more or less a 50/50 joint venture between Vinci
Concessions Vosstran Russie SAS Rueil Malmaison (25 percent) + Vinci Concessions SA Rueil Malmaison (25 percent) AND Sunstone Holding Limited Limassol (Cyprus).
Moscow regional police authority urged to resign due to arbitrariness in Khimki
May 09, 2011 | Greenpeace Russia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Russia, Save Khimki Forest Movement, Wildlife Conservation Centre, Russian Bird Conservation Union, International Socio-Ecological Union (SEU)
Instead of carrying out their duties of law enforcement, Khimki's police are acting in a lawless way - detaining and beating…
Interview with Nikitenko about the campaign to stop the project
May 10, 2011 - In an interview he gave Bankwatch on the occasion of the EU-Russia civil society forum in Prague (March 28, 2011), Jaroslav Nikitenko from the Movement to defend Khimki forest describes the harassment and intimidation Muscovite activists have faced in their campaign to protect the Khimki forest:
May 09, 2011 - After the peaceful protest, Khimkinskaya police and riot police suddenly started to detain activists . About 30 people got crammed into buses, among other including Evgenyeva Chrikova and Yaroslav Nikitenko (leaders of the Khikmi forest movement), Sergei Mitrokhin (a leader of the Yabloko Party)", Sergei Udaltsov (coordinator of the Leva Front) and a representative of WWF Russia.