A forest activist was beaten for trying to stop the ongoing forest cutting in her native town of Selyatino, a village 35 kilometers southwest of Moscow. Selyatino administration plans to destroy about 75 hectares of trees to make room for real estate development in the settlement, whose shrinking population stood at 13,500 in 2010. Up to a third of the forest zone surrounding Moscow is slated for demolition. Alexander Tolstov was forced into a car by a metro station in eastern Moscow by unidentified men, fellow activist Tatiana Pavlova told to  Novosti. He was stripped of valuables, beaten up and thrown out of the car, Pavlova said. Tolstov is now hospitalized.

Pavlova said that local authorities threatened to charge the activists with extremism, and a group of forest activists were also attacked in Selyatino late last month.

Protests by local residents are often suppressed by the authorities, and protesters sometimes come under attacks from private security guards or get beaten by thugs. Two other rights activists have been beaten in separate attacks in Moscow and in the northern city of Vologda over the past month

In December, environmental champion Suren Gazaryan fled Russia and requested asylum in the EU over a criminal case that he said was revenge for his whistle-blowing allegations against the governor of the southern Krasnodar Region.

Moscow police said on Monday it received no complaints from Tolstov.

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