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Khimki Forest Defenders to Rally Thursday

President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday that environmental considerations must be taken into account in deciding the fate of the Khimki forest, even as forest defenders called a rally to complain about "falsified" public hearings on the forest.

Medvedev suspended the construction of an $8 billion toll road through the forest and ordered public hearings on Aug. 28 after more than 3,000 protesters rallied against the project earlier that week.

But a leading environmental activist, Yaroslav Nikitenko, said Wednesday that the federal government was “sabotaging” the hearings and that Khimki City Hall has initiated a “campaign of terror” and harassment against the forest's defenders, Gazeta.ru reported.

He said defenders would rally at 3 p.m. Thursday on Slavyanskaya Ploshchad near the Kitai-Gorod metro station.

Medvedev, speaking at a meeting Wednesday about this summer's wildfires, said the government must consider environmental matters when deciding whether to build the highway through the forest or to choose a more expensive alternative route.

“This doesn't mean we should skip the economic side, but other factors matter, too,” he said, RIA-Novosti reported.

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