Evgeniya Chirikova, Russia’s Constant Gardener

“It’s important that the Russians understand that resistance is possible”.  A conversation with Evgeniya Chirikova, one of Russia’s most prominent environmental activists.

Evgeniya Chirikova’s days are, for the lack of a better word, normal. She wakes up in the early morning, sends her children to school, and reads the news before starting to work. Her job mainly consists in shaking hands, Skype calls and answering emails. Later, she edits vlogs commenting recent news. In the afternoon, she has tea with her family, while their dog tries to snatch whatever falls from the table. Finally, the parents help the kids with their homework and tending the garden. But this routine doesn’t do justice to Mrs. Chirikova’s life, which is all but unremarkable. Formerly a small business owner, she currently lives in exile in Estonia, where she fled following increasing intimidation by the Russian authorities. In 2007, she jump-started a protest against the destruction of Khimki forest, close to her home in the Moscow suburbs. Initially, she and her neighbors just pleaded to the local government to save the forest by modifying the path of the upcoming Moscow-Saint Petersburg highway, but as the corruption behind said project became evident, it quickly snowballed into something bigger. “The fact is that after public criticism of Putin’s policy, our movement fell into the blacklists and the media stopped writing about our activities. After another attack on our [environmental] camp by bandits who were hired by local authorities, we realized how important it is to have media support; so we decided to organize our own media“. With the help of some friends and some coding magic, activatica.org was born.

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