Tomorrow, June 9, 2009, is a international day of solidarity actions in defense of Artem Loskutov, the young Novosibirsk artist arrested on May 15 by officers of the Center for Extremism Prevention. Read our appeal, below, to find out what you can do to join our campaign.
Free Artem Loskutov!
An Appeal from Chto Delat Platform
On May 15, 2009, the contemporary artist and university student Artem Loskutov (pronounced ahr-TYOHM LOHS-koo-tuhf) was arrested in Novisibirsk and charged with possession of a narcotic substance (marijuana) by the local branch of the Interior Ministry’s notorious Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”). Loskutov and his supporters claim that the police planted the marijuana in his bag in order to incriminate him. As one of the inspirations behind the annual “Monstration”—a flash-mob street party in which young people march with absurdist, Situationist slogans—Loskutov had long been an object of the Center’s attentions. At a pre-trial custody hearing on May 20, it was revealed that the Center had been tapping the phones of Loskutov and his friends for the past six months. In the weeks before this year’s Monstration and on May Day itself, Loskutov was summoned to the Center for “discussions”; his parents were also called and told that their son was a member of a dangerous sect. The circumstances of the case and the manner in which he was arrested thus point to a campaign of intimidation directed both at Loskutov and his fellow free-thinking “monstrators” in Novosibirsk.
The Loskutov case has sparked a massive outcry in Russia’s activist and art communities. In the past three weeks, artists, activists, and ordinary concerned citizens all over Russia have carried out a series of pickets, protests, and art actions in Loskutov’s defense. The most inspiring of these actions is a “plein air” hunger strike organized by several young artists in Petersburg, now in its second week. The artists have encamped themselves in a park next to city hall, where they are producing paintings and drawings whose central motif is the increasingly brutal police repression of social activists and dissenting artists in Russia. The hunger strikers have issued three demands. First, they want a criminal investigation of the mass arrests by riot police of marchers in a “Pirate Street Party” on May Day in Petersburg; these arrests took place despite the fact that the action’s organizers had obtained official written permission to march with the other columns of demonstrators. Second, they call for the convening of a public commission to monitor the work of Center “E.” Finally, they demand that the charges against Artem Loskutov be dropped and that he be released from police custody.
Although the Loskutov case and the Petersburg hunger strike have become two of the hottest topics in the Russian blogosphere, there has been a near-total blackout in the mainstream Russian press, especially television. That is why we ask you to join our campaign of solidarity with Artem and his hunger-striking artist comrades in Petersburg. We have called an international day of actions for June 9, a day before Artem’s appeal to be released on recognizance will be heard in the Novosibirsk Regional Court. If we put enough pressure on local and federal authorities now and make enough noise outside of Russia, it is possible that Center “E” will even drop their case altogether.
What Can You Do to Help Artem and the Petersburg Hunger Strikers?
1. You can contribute to Artem’s legal defense fund.
Contributions in US Dollars
Correspondent bank of beneficiary’s bank: Bank of New York, New York, One Wall Street, New York, NY 10286, USA
SWIFT code: IRVTUS3N
Account number with correspondent bank: 890-0570-822
Beneficiary’s bank: Alfa-Bank Moscow
SWIFT code: ALFARUMM
Beneficiary’s bank account number: 40817840708110001957
Beneficiary: Chesnokov Ulyan Mihaylovich
Contributions in Euros
As above, except for the beneficiary’s account number: 40817978808110002061
2. You can mail, call in, fax or e-mail your protest to the Novosibirsk Regional Court, which will next hear Artem’s case on June 10.
Novosibirsk Regional Court (Novosibirskii oblastnoi sud)
ul. Pisareva, 35
Russian Federation 630091 Novosibirsk
Telephone: +7 (383) 221-17-72
Fax: +7 (383) 221-95-30
Send copies of your protest letters to:
Russian Federation Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RF)
Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 32/34
Russian Federation 119200 Moscow
Fax: +7 (499) 244-34-48
Let’s bombard their fax machines and e-mail in-boxes on June 9!
3. You can publicize Artem’s case and the heroic Petersburg hunger strike in blogs, e-mail lists, and the non-Russian language press.
There are three main, constantly updated sources of information on Artem’s case:
- The Russian-language only website of Artem’s art group Babuskha Posle Pokhoron: kissmybabushka.com
- The website Free Artem Loskutov! (free.kissmybabushka.com) contains articles in English, German, and French.
- Our platform’s English-language blog: chtodelat.wordpress.com
Feel free to copy/paste, quote, and otherwise use any and all textual and visual material you find on these sites.
If you need more information or would like us to translate or interpret any articles from the Russian media or blogosphere, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. You can organize your own performances and protest actions.
Take your inspiration from the tremendously creative and brave public actions of your Russian comrades. Poetry, music, art, and performance are powerful instruments of knowledge and political action. Use them!
If you decide to organize a public protest, make sure it happens outside a Russian consulate or embassy, or the venue of a Russian concert, ballet, art exhibition, theater performance, literary reading or other public event. While Artem sits in jail and artists are on hunger strike in Petersburg, there should be no peace for Russia’s ruling, creative, and thinking classes. Their actions and inactions are responsible for the present dismal state of affairs in Russia, whose most recent victims are Artem and the May Day street partiers in Petersburg.
Artem is our comrade. To know him is to love him, but even if you don’t know him, or even if the dubious lads at Center “E” don’t love him, that it is no reason why Artem should waste the best years of his life facing down criminal charges or serving a prison sentence. Artem should be out in the world making art.
The actions you take now to publicize his case, support his defense, and inform the Russian authorities that the world is watching, will make a difference.
An injury to one is an injury to all! Free Artem Loskutov now!