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Russian agent nabs Queen Margrethe’s letter

Activists wanted to make Queen Margrethe aware of abuse in their town near Moscow.

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A woman believed to be a Russian government security agent claimed to be an official Danish representative in order to intercept a letter from local human rights activists to the Danish Queen during her visit Thursday to a Rockwool factory near Moscow.

A small group of activists were standing by with an open letter to the Danish Queen, but were kept at a hundred metres from the location for security reasons.

The head of the 30-man security squad on the scene promised the activists to send ‘someone’ who would be able to receive their communication.

Immediately after the Queen’s motorcade arrived a blond woman in a grey suit walked over to the demonstrators, said she represented the Danish embassy in Moscow and said she would receive the letter to the Queen.

After having studied a picture of the woman, the Danish embassy has told Politiken.dk that the woman has no connection to the embassy.

In the letter, the organisation complains of mafia-like conditions in their town of 130,000 inhabitants, alleging that senior town leaders are involved in corruption and crime and complaining that social conditions in the town are bad.

The activists had hoped to use a unique chance to raise their case and ask the Queen Margrethe to mention the issue to the Russian president.

“We realise that it is not possible for you to change the situation in our city, but we hope that you can transmit our call for help to President Dmitri Medvedev,” the letter said.

“We have written loads of letters to President Medvedev’s office, but they have all been sent back to city hall,” Georgi Udaltsov, who took the initiative for the approach, tells Politiken.dk.

“This is pure desperation. We have been hit and humiliated and are afraid for our lives,” he says.

That evening Queen Margrethe travelled on to St. Petersburg without seeming to be aware of the existence of a letter.

Activists speak of hired killers
According to local human rights activists, senior city executives with Mayor Juri Shirkov at their head have been involved in assassinations of businessmen who refused to pay protection money to “city fathers”.

The national Russian news agency RIA-Novosti has previously reported on arrests of hit-men in Shelesnodoroini who are suspected of being behind killing businessmen. The Public Prosecutor suggests that those arrested have connection to the leadership of the town administration. Only few of those arrested have been sentenced.

Sources at the Rockwool factory, where 340 of the town’s population work, also complain of harassment from the local mayor.

Danish company complained
The mayor recently threatened to immediately appropriate the land over which a vital railway link leads to the factory. That battle was won by Rockwool by approaching the governor of the Moscow region who intervened.

“But it is a fact that the situation regarding children’s institutions and hospitals is critical in Shelesnodoroini and many of our employees complain about the conditions,” Rockwool’s CEO Nick Vince tells Politiken.dk.

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