The group of environmental activists including members of the Environmental Watch on North Caucasus as well as Yabloko party and Solidarnost movement protested illegal Black Sea dachas on the coast in the Tuapse district of Krasnodar region. The regional governor Alexander Tkachev chose the picturesque cove near Bzhid village to build his residence.
Unfortunately, his dacha has been built with multiple violations of Russian environmental laws, destroying endangered trees and blocking sea and forest access to other people by lengthy fences.
Activists went around a massive concrete fence with barbed wire by floating on four inflatable mattresses and one inflatable boat to swim in the sea near the illegal buildings on the Black Sea shore with protest signs.
Immediately an Emergency Ministry boat approached the activists with a working siren and loud demands to leave the “forbidden” area. Since these demands were illegal activists ignored them and picketed the shore with signs “Return forest and sea to the people”, “Corruption threatens nature!” and “President, keep your word!”.
Security guards from Governor Tkachev’s dacha attempted to stop activists from going to the shore, pushing them back into the water. When they failed, they sent out several migrant workers with sharp metal rods into the water, presumably so that they puncture the inflatable mattresses. Activists managed to turn these people back to the shore.
30 minutes after the protest began, guards informed the activists that police have arrived at the scene. However officers did not come out to the water, and the protest continued for a total of about an hour. After this, activists walked along the shore toward the nearest village, with the emergency ministry boat tailing them.
At the same time, three people were detained on the shore by police who used physical force. Solidarnost movement activist Viktor Chirikov, as well as activists from Gelendzhik Valery Semergei and Alexander Onufrienko did not participate in the picketing, and did not breach the territory of Governor Tkachev’s dacha. Eyewitnesses said that lieutenant colonel Kuznetsov, wearing civilian clothing, attacked Viktor Chirikov, hitting him in the face and ordering policemen to detain him. Policemen proceeded to push him to the ground and handcuff him. Two other activists were detained after they went to Chirikov’s defence. The three detainees were driven to the local police station in Dzhubga, keeping them for four hours.
The station was completely blocked off and surrounded, making it impossible for anyone to enter and inquire about the activist’s situation. After four hours the detainees were taken to the district station in Tuapse. Chirikov’s wife and son were denied any information about Viktor’s whereabouts. They also were not allowed to pass him a food and water package.
At 23.10 of the same day, judge Sergei Bondarev held an emergency court hearing, charging Viktor Chirikov with an administrative offence of resisting the police and sentencing him to 15 days in jail. Aleander Onufrienko and Valery Semergei were also jailed for five days on the same charge. All three activists declared a hunger strike.