Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree on Thursday on the suspension of the construction of a controversial highway north of Moscow, the Kremlin said, RIA Novosti reported.
The construction of the Moscow-St. Petersburg highway and the planned destruction of a section of the Khimki forest, part of Moscow's so-called greenbelt, has seen a large-scale grassroots protest movement spring up in Russia. Local residents and environmentalists say economic interests must not outweigh environmental concerns.
Earlier Medvedev said in his video blog that he had ordered the government to suspend the construction.
Russian environmentalists defending the forest were quick to hail the president's decision.
"We are celebrating victory...a victory for civil society... Even if the decision is not final, the fact itself that the president stopped the cutting down [of the forest] is a great victory," one of the activists who defended the forest, Alla Chernyshova, said.