Petersburg Hunger Strike, Day 10: A Video Letter

Tuesday, June 9, 2009, is a day of united actions in defense of Artem Loskutov, the young Novosibirsk artist arrested on May 15 by officers of the Center for Extremism Prevention. To learn the details of the case, please read our earlier post. There you’ll also find out what you can do to help. 

The following video was shot by Dmitry Vilensky on day 10 of the artists’ hunger strike in the Parterre Garden of the Smolny Institute, Petersburg’s city hall. The hunger strikers—Yulia, Nastya, Flor, and Leonid—need your support as much as Artem does. If you write us with letters of support, we’ll deliver them to the strikers.

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A Video Letter from the Hunger Striking Artists: Day 10

After Three Days of Rain, the Sun Came Out

Leonid: Freedom for Loskutov!

Dima: How do you feel?

Leonid: I feel fairly good. I feel that I’ll hang on longer than everyone else. But that remains to be seen. 

This morning there was a big fight going on my soul. I thought, “Fuck! I’ll go to the death, but I’ll do what I set out to do!” It’s a new feeling.

Flor: The tenth day . . .  In fact there’s no big difference—day seven, day ten. It’s approximately one and the same condition. It’s evened out. Yeah, I’m a little weaker. But on the other hand, the sun has come out, and so we can work, rather than sit around like stupid cows. So there’s a feeling of optimism: we’ll be working and everything will be a lot more fun.

The girls have gone a little sour. Yulia almost fainted today, and Nastya’s also a bit on the weak side. Maybe the sun will come out now. . .  After all, vitamin D is our only food.

The solidarity is great: people come and chat with us, and that helps. That also keeps you going.

Come on down! If the sun is out, bring a guitar and we’ll play some music and have some fun. We’ve got lawn chairs here. We won’t dance—we’re too weak for that—but we’ll hang out. Everyone is welcome.

Leonid: June 9 is a day of united actions in defense of Artem Loskutov! Please organize something or other: draw pictures, hold a demo, hold a picket, anything you like. We’ve got to free Loskutov. Because if we free Loskutov, that means there’s still a chance. If we’re not unable to defend an ordinary person, an artist that the KGB has got its paws on, then that means we’ve fucked up our last chance. We need to use whatever means we’ve got.

Flor: I started drawing on this complaint letter to the prosecutor’s office. I came up with a new incarnation of Lenin. 

The rain was falling and it was impossible to paint, so I made these little doodle sketches.

Leonid: Today this OMON officer showed up and said that everything here should be burned. Not as if we had any doubts on that score. Then he left. Now he’s standing over there.

Dima: What’s he doing?

Flor: Who the hell knows?

Leonid:  He’s waiting for someone to give him permission to burn or break something. That’s his job: to guard the Motherland!

Camera and editing: Dmitry Vilensky (Chto Delat)

* The middle-aged man in glasses who appears in the middle of the video, “inspecting” the paintings before walking towards the Smolny with his companion in the leather jacket, is Nikolai Strumentov.  “Every morning the plein air [hunger strike] is also visited by [Nikolai] Strumentov,  deputy head of the [city] Committee on Law, Order, and Security—the bureaucrat responsible for the illegal arrests of demonstrators at the May Day street party.”

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

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