An engineering mom leads effort to save an old-growth


If all politics is local, Yevgenia Chirikova may have begun something that could change the course of Russian history.

Just five years ago, the winner of this year’s prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize (one of six awarded on April 16) was a small-business woman and homemaker in the Moscow suburb of Khimki who, by her own account, had never considered engaging in civic action of any sort.

But discovery of what she calls an ecological crime led her and a small band of supporters to confront Russian authorities, whom she accused of being corrupt and unaccountable, in what is an ongoing effort to force reconsideration of a highway that would destroy the irreplaceable old-growth Khimki Forest, near her home.

Over the subsequent years of struggle, Ms. Chirikova has built one of Russia‘s first grass-roots environmental movements, endured numerous arrests, suffered through the vicious beatings of several friends, and earned a hard education that has vaulted her to the center stage of national politics.

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