Monthly Archives: December 2008

“Didn’t I Tell You That I Will Pop Your Eyes Out?”: Mass Arrests at the Dissenters March in Petersburg

The St. Petersburg Times
December 16, 2008
Wave of Arrests in Protests Across Russia
By Sergey Chernov
Staff Writer

11802491mdoDozens of protesters were arrested Sunday during an anti-Kremlin protest in St. Petersburg aimed at the government’s handling of the economy and constitutional changes that prolong presidential terms.

The police said more than 60 protesters were detained near the Gostiny Dvor mall on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main street, where the opposition groups had gathered, while more than 100 activists were reportedly detained at a similar event in Moscow. Protesters said no fewer than 100 were detained in St. Petersburg.

The date for the latest in a series of so-called Dissenters’ Marches was chosen to coincide with the Decembrist Uprising in 1825 that demanded Russia’s Tsarist autocracy be replaced with a constitutional monarchy or a republic.

Marches were held simultaneously in Moscow and St. Petersburg by Other Russia, the pro-democracy coalition formed by Garry Kasparov’s United Civil Front (OGF) and Eduard Limonov’s banned National Bolshevik Party (NBP), with a number of other political parties and movements joining them.
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If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Throw It at the World’s Biggest War Criminal

Like this.

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Iceland’s Burning!

fanabrennaFrom the anarchist group Aftaka comes this communique—Direct Action in Iceland, a report on protest actions taken against the government, the police, and the banks in response to the country’s financial collapse.

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Support TagAZ-ITUA Activists!

04-bigThe Taganrog Automobile Plant (TagAZ), in the southern Rostov Region of Russia, assembles a number of Hyundai vehicles as well as its own line of cars. When you look at their website, you get a rather rosy picture of labor relations at the plant:

TagAZ takes pride in its skilled amicable personnel. At present employed are about 2 600 people including employees in the applied productions. 30 percent of them are engineering-technical staff.

Average age of the plant personnel is 25 years. About 40 percent of the staff are women. Their patience and tidiness are irreplaceable at some stages of the assembling conveyor.

At the starting period of the plant the engineer staff and young specialists were trained at automobile plants in South Korea, Europe and USA. Regular professional trainings at the leading world undertakings are part of the program of improving personnel’s skills. TagAZ collaborates with technical highest schools in employing of perspective specialists.

Socially oriented staff policy and work conditions make TagAZ the one of the most attractive employers in the labour market in the southern region of the Russia.

In fact, things are anything but rosy at TagAZ. Since August 2007, members of the TagAZ local of the Interregional Trade Union of Auto Workers (ITUA) have been struggling against a stacked deck that includes every union-busting trick in the book (including physical reprisals) to have their union recognized by plant management.

On December 10, the ITUA, the All-Russia Labor Confederation, and the Petersburg Committee for Solidarity Actions (KSD) launched a solidarity campaign in support of TagAZ-ITUA. Chtodelat News is pleased to support this campaign. We urge you to read the following interview with two TagAZ-ITUA activists. Following the interview is a translation of the solidarity appeal. It contains lots of information about how you can join the campaign. You can also help by crossposting the interview and the appeal on your blogs and websites.

There is power in the union!

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Kandinsky Is Ashamed: Vpered and Chto Delat Picket the Kandinsky Prize

To receive the award, the three young men that comprise [the PG Group] came on stage wearing ski masks, announcing themselves to be the Moscow representatives of Somali pirates.“The future belongs to people in masks,” one member of the group said, to a stunned audience. “Your fat-cat lifestyle will soon end and then you’ll all be hung up high.” “We’re not joking,” he added. Silence descended on the room, followed by meek applause.

John Varoli, “Jeers, Cheers Greet Kandinsky Winner, Painter Beliayev-Guintovt” 

Kirill Medvedev
“Art Is Beyond Politics, Fascism Is Beyond Criticism”: A Picket by the Vpered Socialist Movement and Chto Delat on the “Territory of Art”

On December 10, independent critics, artists, and activists joined members of the Vpered (Forward!) Socialist Movement and the Chto Delat Work Group in a picket at the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center. The reason for the protest was the fascization of contemporary art and the art business, as exemplified by the nomination for and awarding of the Kandinsky Prize to Alexei Belyaev-Guintovt, the so-called stylist of the Eurasian Youth League.

kandinsky_4As members of the beau monde and the art establishment exited their cars and entered the auditorium where the awards ceremony took place, they observed with a mixture of unease, squeamishness, and curiosity a group of twenty some leftist internationalists who were holding up a banner, handing out leaflets along with the new issue of Chto Delat newspaper (When Artists Struggle Together), and shouting such slogans as “Art Is Beyond Politics, Fascism Is Beyond Criticism!” “Kandinsky Is Ashamed!” and “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: Money, Swastikas, Crosses!” The “hosts” and guests of the awards ceremony nervously poked their heads out from the auditorium, people took snapshots, and a news crew from Channel One taped an improvised report of the action that is, however, unlikely ever to make it on the air.

Event organizers displayed tactical good sense: they decided that breaking up the picket would harm their business reputations, and this allowed the picketers to hand out as many newspapers and leaflets as possible.

Two VIP guests of the ceremony—thugs from the Eurasian Youth League—were drawn to the picketers’ banner, which featured the Eurasian Movement’s arrow-crosses, stylized swastikas, and the slogan “Kandinsky Is Ashamed.” After unsuccessfully attempting to seize the banner, the “Eurasians” entered into a political discussion with the picketers. They demanded to know how Belyaev-Guintovt and his fellow Duginites were fascists.

A reading of direct quotations from Eurasian Youth League manifestos and the published works of Alexander Dugin* made no impression on them, of course, and so the “Eurasians” renewed their battle to seize the banner. A long and fairly ridiculous scrum ensued. From time to time, the Eurasian warriors would scream things like, “He hit me!” and “He’s twisting my arm!” to the security guards. In the end, the rumpled Eurasians seized the banner and retreated into the auditorium, where they joined other honored guests in celebrating what turned out to be a brilliant victory for the Eurasian “stylist.” Meanwhile, the leftist activists continued their picket. They then quit the grounds of Winzavod. They left right on time: at the art center’s gates they ran into squads of policemen racing to the scene. Continue reading

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Nobody Got Murdered: The Mysterious “Life” and “Death” of Olga Rukosyla

On October 17, we reported, via a translation of a quite emotional post on the Live Journal of the Moscow anarchist and journalist Vlad Tupikin, on the brutal murder of a young woman in Irkutsk. It was alleged that the woman, identified as “Olga Rukosyla,” had been kicked to death by skinheads who had identified her as a member of the antifa movement. Vlad’s account was both so chilling and heartfelt that it never occurred to us that the information could be false.

Well, that is apparently what it was: false. What was almost instantly troubling about the story was that, after Vlad’s post, the wild discussion that took place there, and the inevitable repostings of the story, no more details were forthcoming. Since Russia has in the last few years witnessed a series of rather high-profile murders of anti-fascist activists, it was odd that yet another such murder and one that took place in a major Russian city (Irkutsk) would not generate further interest. Soon it became apparent that something was wrong, although when pressed for details by his readers, Vlad merely wrote that the story was being investigated.

Something was wrong, as you will see in the following translation of a long investigative report that was published in late November by the Irkutsk newspaper SM Nomer Odin. It is, however, still troubling that this same newspaper had earlier—in its October 23 issue, hot on the heels of the alleged murder—published a story proving that the victim hadn’t existed; hence, no woman, no crime. But since that was a Siberian newspaper, and the Moscow and Irkutsk antifa and Vlad Tupikin were still trying to figure out what had happened, this news did not make it into the “central” alternative press in the two capitals.

Nevertheless, we are genuinely sorry if our posting of Vlad’s obituary misled any of you. That was not our intention and, knowing Vlad, we are certain that was not his intention, either. He has already apologized in his Live Journal.

But what explains our collective willingness to believe this story? It’s pretty simple: the hundreds upon hundreds of murders and beatings of antifascist activists, migrant workers, members of ethnic minorities, and other activists that have happened in Russia over the past several years. If you don’t believe me, check out the special BASTA! issue of our newspaper. There in the centerfold you will find a map of Saint Petersburg marked with the spots where 132 people had been beaten or killed by fascists between February 2004 and January 2008. Those are the inglorious numbers in just one (albeit very large) Russian city.

And if you think we made that up, you should know that we compiled the map using the reports on the website of the highly respected, not-at-all hysterical SOVA Center, in Moscow. In one of their latest reports (released on December 1) they write that, since the beginning of the year in Russia, no less than 82 people have been killed and no less than 348 people have been injured as the result of neo-Nazi and racist attacks.

It is one thing to read the statistics; it is quite another to have the SOVA Center among one’s “friends” on Live Journal, as we do. If you have friends like them, that means that nearly every day you get to read things like this:

09.12.08 17:11

Vicious Assault on Workers from Tajikistan in the Moscow Region

On December 5, 2008, near the village of Zhabkino in the Leninsky District of the Moscow Region, two Nazi-skinheads attacked two workers from Tajikistan.

The 20- and 22-year-old migrants, who were working as loaders at a produce base, were returning from work late evening and were passing through a grove. As soon as they entered the forest, they were fired upon with pneumatic pistols. One of the men, who was wounded in the temple, escaped. He was hospitalized, and in the hospital he told the brother of the second migrant about the incident.

The headless corpse of the second migrant has been found in a gully. The man’s body had six stab wounds in the back. Nothing had been stolen from the dead man.

The wounded migrant has informed [police] that both attackers were Slavic in appearance.

The group Combat Organization of Russian Nationalists (which probably is a mythical organization) has claimed responsibility for the murder.

Not too shabby, eh? So forgive us our gullibility. And ask yourself, as you read the article about the Rukosyla hoax, why in the world would someone want to make a story like this up? Continue reading

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Afghanistan: The Case against the “Good War”

Jonathan Neale, “Afghanistan: The Case against the ‘Good War.’”  International Socialism 120.

Simply the best article we have ever read about the recent history of Afghanistan and the extremely troubling situation there now. Read it and sent it to everyone you know—including your congressman (if you have one).

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/unvermittelt: For a Concept of Labor Beyond Overwork and Lack of Work


…for a concept of labor beyond overwork and lack of work

Participants: Absageagentur, bankleer, Bildwechsel, Chto Delat, Chor der Tätigen, city mine(d), Die Heilige Kirche der letzten drei Arbeitstage, G-bliss productions, Sascha Göttling, Institut für Primär-energieforschung, Kiez ->To Go, m7red, Karin Michalski/Renate Lorenz, Netzwerk Grund-einkommen, Private Emission Trade, Sabotage-agentur, unhaltbar/leere Versprechungen, UNWETTER, Malte Wilms, Zene na delu—and the NGBK unvermittelt project group: Danijela Cenan, Uli Ertl, Frauke Hehl, Rut Waldeyer and Nadine Wothe.

demo_micronomics1About 50 activists, initiatives, artists, theorists and opinion leaders from throughout the world have been invited to redefine the concepts of work and of being active under the motto “practice, method, scope.” The project began in January 2008 with a series of lectures and workshops. Since August, a number of interventions have taken place in Berlin public space. From 13 December, the participants will be showing what they understand by a collaborative and mutually supportive space to think, explore the scope of possibilities, and act, in the exhibition space at NGBK. 

The exhibition presents both the processes involved—workshops, campaigns, radio and film productions, artists’ actions and political interventions in urban space, as well as the results—films, posters, songs and other acoustic works, sculptures and documentary material.

/unvermittelt will be accompanied by a publication in German. ISBN: 978-3-938515-21-1.

At the evening opening at NGBK the Chor der Tätigen will be singing pop-songs on the topic of work together with Judiths Krise. 

/unvermittelt is a project of the New Society for Visual Arts, its patron is Berlin’s Senator for Integration, Labour and Social Issues Dr. Knake-Werner.

Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst e.V
Oranienstrasse 25 ⁄ 10999 Berlin
13 December 2008—1 February 2009
Opening: 12 December, 7:00 p.m.

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Workers Occupy Plant in Chicago

Angry laid-off workers occupy factory in Chicago

cat_largeuebuttonUpdates on the campaign from UE (United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America), the union that represents the workers at the Republic Windows and Doors plant.

And here is a good post on the occupation from the Labor Is Not a Commodity blog.

You can sign a petition in support of the workers here.

There is power in a union!

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An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

An Open Letter on the 2008 Kandinsky Prize

121170281We admit it upfront: we don’t care much for the artist Alexei Belyaev (Guintovt), and we don’t care about him. His art is beyond the pale of criticism, and we have never had any illusions about his political views. By the mid-1990s, he had already drifted into the orbit of Eduard Limonov’s National Bolsheviks, and he would later join Alexander Dugin’s breakaway Eurasian Movement. You do not have to be a political scientist to recognize these people for what they are: part of a reactionary global trend toward ultra-right/ultra-left nationalism. Belyaev’s statements and artworks reflect this political identity. His work glorifies violence, imperial domination, blood, soil, and war. It does this in a consciously triumphal neo-Stalinist aesthetic, mixing crimson with gold leaf to confirm its redundant imperialist messages. Some members of the local bourgeoisie are taken with this aesthetic. Fascism thus enters the salon—a salon we would rather ignore.

We thus have no vested interest in criticizing the Kandinsky Prize. Founded on the cusp of the recent Russian art boom, this $50,000 award (with its longlist show of sixty artists) is a contemporary version of the salon, the institution that has defined art throughout the bourgeois age. Initiated by the glossy art magazine ArtKhronika, supported by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, and sponsored by Deutsche Bank, the Kandinsky Prize is clearly yet another neoliberal franchise, easiest to promote with a servile, aggressively populist local contingent. Its first edition eared at least some credibility by supporting the beleaguered curator Andrei Yerofeyev and giving its top award to activist-turned-formalist Anatoly Osmolovsky. But now, as the overall socio-political situation shows signs of changing for the worse, the divided jury of the Kandinsky Prize has decided to include Belyaev in the short list of its “Artist of the Year” nomination. Belyaev, however, is a crypto-fascist. The liberal press immediately picked up this scandal. Such scandals in the salon always play into the hands of the artist, his gallery, his admirers, and the critics. Most importantly, they promote the political views of these people. We do not share the rosy liberal illusion that the free market and the circulation of capital can fully convert any kind of engaged art, that artists like Belyaev tame and defuse potentially dangerous ideologies. Instead, the market makes them fashionable among the salon’s novelty-loving clientele in a mutated, glamorous form. Continue reading


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