“I’ll Give Myself to the President” (Kaliningrad, January 31, 2009)

The wave of total, self-abnegating assent to the Russian government’s s0-called anti-crisis program has now spread to the western frontier of the world’s largest country—Kaliningrad (Königsberg). We just received this dispatch from a correspondent on our platform:

On January 31, a rally in support of the President’s anti-crisis program was scheduled to take place on the main square in Kaliningrad. Inspired by the March of the Assenters carried out on January 25 by our friends in Petersburg, we—the Verkhotura Dance Theater and our supporters—resolved to similarly support the President during these difficult times for Russia. After lengthy preparations we succeeded in infiltrating the area cordoned off for the rally. Thanks to the relaxed state evinced by the guardians of the peace, who are accustomed to the standard scenario for a provincial rally, we were able to smuggle in placards and a ladder. We took up our positions not far from the stage and began our performance. A five-member women’s chorus began singing the national anthem of the Russian Federation. After they had performed a few stanzas, one of the young ladies mounted the ladder and, shouting the slogan “Everything for the President!” performed a fall. Her example was followed by the other young ladies, who accompanied their falls with the cries “I’ll Give Up the Shirt Off My Back!” “I’ll Donate All My Blood!” “I’m for a 100% Tax!” “I’ll Give Myself to the President!” and so forth. The chorus was supported by a group bearing placards and by random spectators.

"I'll Give Up My Last Toy!"

"I'll Give Up My Last Toy!"

After a while, some smiling policemen joined the ranks of the passive spectators and began reluctantly asking them questions. We were not prepared for this peaceful turn of events and we even became a little confused. But then one of the men in uniform approached the “oldest people in our group” and began questioning them. Regrouping and forming something like a round dance around the men, we accompanied our movements with the chant “Crisis, crisis, go away!” Then the two young men were asked to immediately proceed to the police station. We (the unjustly ignored female half of our group) protested this action and even tried to block the police van. Unable to free our comrades, we followed our friends to the precinct by tram.

We noticed that the tram was being tailed by a police cruiser that suspiciously stopped at all the tram stops. When we got out at the right stop, a police officer managed to catch up with us on foot. In a strict tone of voice he invited us to the precinct, to which we responded that this was exactly where we were going. But as we made our way there, one of our arrested comrades called and said that we should not go there under any circumstances. Although we were shocked, we quickly grasped the situation and escaped from the arm of the law. On a small street (already an hour after the rally) we were suddenly surrounded by two cars. The men who jumped out instantly blocked our escape route and began to forcibly shove us into the cars. We girls began to scream quite loudly, and so the police were also forced to detain our innocent photographer (the only man with us at this point).

Meanwhile, down at the station, something odd was happening. The policemen were unable to draw up the arrest protocol: they were forced to rewrite it several times because no one knew what to write. One of the arrestees and one of the policemen realized they were high school classmates and they began fondly remembering days of yore. Displeased that their weekends had been ruined (many of the officers had been forced to quickly report for duty) and by the tiring wait for “orders from the top brass,” the police officers began amusing themselves by taking pictures of each other holding our confiscated placards and quietly humming “Crisis, crisis, go away!” as they went about their mundane daily tasks. Many of them confessed that, for the most part, they agreed that the situation in the country was “unhealthy” and that something needed to be done, but that “something” was beyond their authority. Besides, the country was in a crisis, and they had families.

In the end, our group was released and summoned to a date with the judge, which took place in atmosphere of jokes and smiles on the part of the judge and witnesses, and ended with a fine of 1,000 rubles, as well as the absurd offer made by a local deputy, who had become our fan, to “collaborate.” And so, “to be continued. . .”

Local media accounts of the action (in Russian, with photographs):
Kaliningrad.Ru: “Participants of the Action ‘I’ll Give Myself to the President’ Have Been Fined 1,000 Rubles”
Kaliningrad.Ru: “Anti-Crisis Manifestations”
Klops.Ru: “Two Rallies at the Same Time: ‘We Need a Tax on Air.’”

1 Comment

Filed under activism, film and video, protests, Russian society

One response to ““I’ll Give Myself to the President” (Kaliningrad, January 31, 2009)

  1. Pingback: Song of Solidarity: A Video Letter to Artem Loskutov « chtodelat news

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