With a group of environmental experts and NGOs, we conducted a review of the country's environmental issues, which included eleven alternate routes for the road planned to go through the Khimki forest.
Several days after passing this expert environmental review to President Medvedev, Social Services showed up at my house with an anonymous report about me, saying I neglect my children, that I beat them and I don't feed them. Should environmentalists put their efforts in creating a Green party or would it be more effective for people to be protesting on the street?
That was very scary because it meant that I could lose my children and be in prison for assault. I decided to publicly announce that this had happened and people came to support me, it became a big scandal. But basically even though I pay my taxes and I pay for police services, I cannot seek their help. Firstly I would like to say that we had Green party before, which was actually not a real Green party because it was created by the Kremlin. To be honest, Russian people need support and help in protecting their environment.
The journalist Mikhail Beketov, who published articles exposing corruption in the Khimki forest project, was then assaulted and beaten up so badly that he can no longer walk or talk and lost three fingers and a leg.
Another example is Sergei Magnitsky, [who uncovered the largest tax fraud in Russia's history committed by government officials] was arrested and tortured to death in custody.
There are a variety of other examples where people are trying to fight this project or this system and are brutally assaulted as a result. I am very close friends with Mikhail [Beketov] and when I saw him after the attack when he came out of the intensive care unit, I was so scared I thought I should leave Russia.
You've gone from being a working mum of two, to one of the country's foremost environmental activists and enemy of the Putin regime, how did it all come about? I wasn't simply a working mum; I was also an engineer who had my own business.
Because I ran my own business I knew a lot about paying taxes.
I was very surprised when I learned that the construction of the Moscow-St.Petersburg highway would cut through swathes of Khimki forestland [2500 acres of federally protected forest in northern Moscow].Naturally I was curious so I wrote to various government organisations and was shocked by the letters I received in reply. To paraphrase, both letters said that because Putin designed the project it is therefore legal.The more we objected to the project, the more we learned how the project was not only ridiculous, but also corrupt.We managed to learn that, with regards to the French construction company managing the project, Vinci, it wasn't there to transfer new technology but for the purposes of transferring taxpayers' money into offshore accounts, essentially [say anti-corruption campaigners] to one of Mr.Putin's best friends, Russian oligarch Mr Arkadi Rotenberg.