Russian president blocks new highway plan after protests

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President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday ordered the suspension of plans to build a motorway through a forest outside Moscow, in a rare case of the Russian authorities responding to popular protests.

"Although a decision was taken by the government to build the motorway, people including the ruling party and the opposition, social groups and experts say that additional analysis is needed," he said.

His announcement came after least 2,000 people turned out Sunday for a banned concert in central Moscow protesting plans to build the motorway through the Khimki forest north of the Russian capital.

"I order the government to halt the realisation of the construction and carry out additional discussions," Medvedev added, speaking of the "increased resonance" surrounding the project.

"This decision must be carried out, taking into account the appeals and the worries," he said in a message to be posted on his video blog quoted by Russian news agencies.

© 2010 AFP

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