Khimki Oppositionist Severely Beaten and Near Death
Prominent Khimki oppositionist and a defender of the Khimki Forest is near death. [Mikhail] Beketov, the editor-in-chief of Khimkinskaya Pravda, and a harsh critic of the local authorities, was found beaten half to death in the courtyard of his home (in the village of Starbeevo, Khimki District) on the morning of November 13. He was discovered by a neighbor lady, who immediately summoned paramedics. Drenched in blood and unconscious, the journalist was transported to the surgical department of the Khimki municipal hospital, where he is right now, hovering between life and death. Mikhail suffered severe head trauma and multiple fractures and injuries. According to doctors, these injuries are life-threatening. According to them, the least movement threatens Beketov with instant death.
Mikhail Beketov is primarily known for his articles critical of the Khimki municipal administration. It was Beketov who, in April 2007, drew the public’s attention to the desecration of the war pilots’ grave next to Leningrad Highway.
He has likewise covered in his newspaper the fight for Khimki Forest, which has been going on now for two years.
In May of last year persons unknown blew up his car, while in February of this year he was charged with criminal libel. At the beginning of November, Beketov distributed the new issue of his newspaper, in which he criticized the Khimki administration and reported on the situation with the Khimki Forest, which is scheduled to be cut down. In conversations with friends, Beketov on many occasions confirmed that he had been “threatened by bandits.”
Movement for the Defense of Khimki Forest:+7 495 645 99 02; +7 917 564 86 45; +7 905 784 04 54, 500 82 36
Carine Clément, Director of the Institute for Collective Action, Is Attacked in Downtown Moscow
Today (November 13) Carine Clément, [a Moscow-based French sociologist and social activist, and] the director of the Institute for Collective Action, was attacked in downtown Moscow. The incident took place around 11 a.m. near the Bilingua Club, where Clément was to take part in a roundtable on the crisis. According to the victim, two young men ran up to her from behind and stabbed her with a syringe containing an unidentified substance. The men uttered no threats, demands or any other words that would have made it possible to understand their motives. As Clément underscored, the appearance of the assailants was not marked by any characteristic ethnic traits or other distinguishing features.
We should note that this is the third assault on Carine Clément in the past month, and it would be illogical to write it off as a commonplace incident of hooliganism. Two weeks ago Clément was beaten and mugged near her home on Mosfilm Street. An unidentified man, whose appearance the victim was unable to remember and who was waiting for her near her house, struck her and grabbed her bag. He then escaped in a car driven by an accomplice. Continue reading
This past week the whole world has been buzzing, celebrating, and puzzling over the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency. Will his presidency usher in a new era of peace, friendship, and social justice the world over? Or his advent just new window dressing on a bad game that is getting worse? This week’s reader is devoted to skeptical voices on the left who wonder whether we all haven’t been sold a bill of goods. Featuring: Simon Critchley, Judith Butler, Louis Proyect, Alexander Cockburn, Ralph Nader, Unión del Barrio, Richard Seymour, Howard Zinn, Mike Davis, and Tariq Ali. Continue reading
Knuckledusters as an Instrument of “Social Dialogue” in Contemporary Russia
Who Is Bothered by Alexei Etmanov?
Reprisals against union leaders have, unfortunately, ceased to be merely a part of the ancient history of the trade union movement. They have more and more often become a reality of labor relations in today’s Russia.
On the night of November 8, when Alexei Etmanov, chair of the union committee at Ford-Vsevolozhsk and co-chair of the Russian Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA), returned home after his shift, he was attacked by three armed bandits. It is clear that the people who sent them wanted to ensure numerical superiority. Here, however, their calculations ran afoul: Alexei managed to force his attackers, who were armed with knuckledusters, to retreat in shame.
However, in order to dispel any doubts as to the motives for the attack, the “organizers” of this piece of brigandage telephoned another union leader at Ford, Vladimir Lesnik, and threatened reprisals if the Ford unionists “didn’t stop getting in [their] way.”
Over the past two years such attacks have happened more than once: labor activists have been savagely beaten in Kaliningrad, Togliatti, and Taganrog. Each time the targets were union activists who challenged the complete sway of their employers and thus all employers who recognize no one’s rights other than their own sovereign right to dictate the work conditions and the lives of “their” workers. Continue reading
The Fight Is Effective When the Fighters Know How to Defend Themselves
On the night of November 8, Alexei Etmanov, the chair of the trade union committee at the Ford-Vsevolozhsk plant, returned home from the second shift. He parked his car in a lot and headed for his house. On Heroes Street three men jumped in his path and without uttering a word attacked Alexei. They were armed with knuckledusters.
During the tussle, Alexei managed to pull a stun weapon from his pocket and get off a shot. The cloak-and-dagger types beat a hot retreat.
Etmanov told a police investigator that in his opinion the assailants were ordinary “yobs.” However, he turned out to be wrong.
The following day, Etmanov’s deputy, Vladimir Lesik got a call on his mobile phone. The caller warned him that the nighttime incident had nothing to do with robbery or mugging.
“You got a mild chewing-out. But if you keep getting in our way, you’ll part with your life,” the anonymous caller declared.
The combative trade union at Ford-Vsevolozhsk gets in a lot of people’s way—both employers and dealers. And, by establishing the Russian Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA), the young workers of Vsevolozhsk have also gotten in the way of employers in Taganrog and Togliatti, as well as those trade union organizations that the authorities use like an “engine whistle” to let off the steam of popular rage.
It is a matter for the police to find out which of these forces attacked a labor leader with knuckledusters.
For our part, we would like to remind our sons of Lenin’s statement that a revolution is worth its salt only when it knows how to defend itself.
Trade union activists are in the process of preparing an appeal to the police to open a criminal investigation. Continue reading
Rezistenţa Populară (Moldova)
Rezistenţa Populară/Народное сопротивление (People’s Resistance; henceforth, RP) is a Marxist political movement that conducts popular protest actions and works to help the working class achieve self-identity and unity. The RP is convinced that the world of private entrepreneurs, thieving speculators, private banks, chronic unemployment, and armies of poor people—a world where the rich gradually grow richer while absolutely all other strata of the populace grow poor—is unjust and should be destroyed. It should be replaced by a world of social guarantees, a world without private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of men by other men; a world where all the mean of production will belong to the whole society and will be used for its benefit, not merely for the enrichment of the minority constituted by the powers that be and the major private capitalists and owners.
In our struggle with capital we are creating a revolutionary working-class party. We take our ideas to the masses by appealing directly to work collectives and all those citizens who do not wish to merely look on as they are constantly robbed and repressed by the current ruling clique. In its actions, the RP exposes the thieving essence of the neoliberal reforms now being carried out in Moldova by the ruling party. As strange as it may seem, this party is the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM). However, the goal of the RP is not the gradual but pitiful improvement of workers’ lives or the constant struggle against discrete manifestations of developed capitalism’s negative tendencies, but the complete removal of the capitalist system as the underlying cause of all these phenomena. Continue reading
Another week, another bundle of articles from our electronic magazine rack. This week’s offerings include: a fabulous interview with David Harvey; a mindblowing analysis of the meaning of class by a Hungarian we’ve never heard of (but probably should have); more reflections on the crisis; an appreciation of Ralph Nader; the dangers of populism in the US; a conversation with a Die Linke member on the missed opportunity to save socialism in East Germany; an interview with LA anarchist Joaquin Cienfuegos; the split within the ANC and what it means for the South African left; and crisis- and Chechnya-denial in Russia. Continue reading
An Autumnal Anti-Immigrant Exacerbation
Hard on the heels of the Locals (Mestnye) movement, the Young Guards of United Russia (Molodaya Gvardiia Edinoi Rossii — MGER) have joined the anti-immigrant campaign that is now underway in Russia. The expansion of this campaign is a particularly worrisome sign against the backdrop of preparations for November 4th celebrations [i.e., the so-called Day of Unity, which celebrates the victory over “Polish interventionists” in the seventeenth century and was explicitly meant to replace the traditional November 7th holiday that celebrated the October Revolution], when a heightening of nationalistic moods is observed even without additional factors.
On October 31, 2008, an announcement of the action “Our Money to Our People!!!” was published on the organization’s website. “We demand that migrant laborers be deported from Russia and that the border be closed to them in the coming year; that all vacancies be given to Russian citizens, [and] that legislative acts be passed to this effect,” it says in the announcement of the action. Continue reading