This just in from the Institute for Collective Action:
Today (May 9, 2009), Leftist Art. Leftist Philosophy. Leftist History. Leftist Poetry, the first experimental 24-hour “seminar dormitory,” was to take place in Nizhny Novgorod. However, at approximately twelve noon, OMON troops burst into the room where the seminar was supposed to take place and stopped the proceedings. Around thirty people were present at this moment. According to one participant, the OMON officers are behaving in a very aggressive way. They have confiscated identity papers and are now loading detainees onto a bus.
The seminar dormitory was meant to bring together four disciplines and four young practicioners of these disciplines: Nikolai Oleinikov (leftist artist), Alexei Penzin (leftist philosopher), Ilya Budraitskis (leftist historian), and Kirill Medvedev (leftist poet).They planned to hold a series of seminars and lectures on art, history, and philosophy, as well as video and film screenings and poetry readings.
Nikolai and Alexei are members of the Chto Delat work group (Moscow/Petersburg), while Ilya and Kirill are correspondents on our e-mail platform and good friends and comrades. We will keep you informed of new developments in this story as they become know to us. Unfortunately, this is just the latest sign of the total collapse of the “rule of law” in Russia and the ongoing war against social and political activists. Please repost this information as widely as possible in your blogs and e-mail lists.
The telephone of the police precinct where they are being held is (+7) 831-434-02-02. Please call this number to inquire about the health and safety of our comrades. The latest information is that the police have confiscated their mobile phones and preventing them from otherwise sending us on the outside any information. They are being interrogated individually, after which they are allegedly being released one by one.
Even if you cannot speak Russian, please call: it will remind the Nizhny Novgorod police that the whole world is watching, that it is their duty to uphold human and civil rights, which are guaranteed not only by the Russian Federation Constitution, but also by all the relevant European and international treaties and conventions. The Russian Federation is a signatory to these conventions, however much it has made a complete mockery of this fact during the past several years.
UPDATE: We have just received word that all the detainees have been released and the seminar is continuing. We have learned from our sources that the OMON raid took place while the seminar participants were watching a Jean-Luc Godard film. Allegedly, the police had received information that the seminar was a gathering of “extremists,” which is the code word the Russian authorities and their apologists now use for anyone even mildly opposed to their policies or otherwise not wholly compromised by their management of “managed democracy.”
Here is part of the statement we just posted on our Russian-language LiveJournal. A more comprehensive statement will follow in the next day or so.
We categorically protest police abuse. During these May Day and Victory Day holidays the impression has arisen that martial law has been declared in Russia. There are OMON officers posted every two meters on the streets. Some of these policemen break up peaceful demonstrations. Others are intoxicated and speed around the city in their vehicles, thus endangering people’s lives. Still others stop civilians in their tracks at every turn and inform them about non-existent “laws” that supposedly require them to carry their internal passports on their persons at all times. When will this come to an end? Probably not under the current regime, which tolerates police abuse in the name of the police’s loyalty and thus every hour bears witness to its own cynicism and weakness.
The hysteria of the authorities—especially the security forces, which often act in a completely uncontrolled way—is without real foundation. In our peaceful society, which has not yet reacted strongly to the growing economic crisis, the authorities not only break up public demonstrations, but also oppositional intellectual gatherings. They ratchet up tension, which in the end will lead to a destabilization of the regime.
As we know from experience, however, public opinion can influence the situation during such power vacuums. That is why in cases like the dispersal of the anarchist/antifa May Day demonstration in Petersburg or the arrest of seminar participants in Nizhny we need a consolidated public outcry against the actions of the authorities.