Monthly Archives: October 2009

Side by Side Film Festival: Was NTV Planning a Provocation with Fascist Thugs?

Last year around this time, we posted Sergey Chernov’s interview with filmmaker John Cameron Mitchell when he was a guest at the Side by Side International LGBT Film Festival in Saint Petersburg. The focus of their conversation was the vigorous attempt on the part of the local authorities to close the festival down. Yesterday we received from festival organizers a quite curious press release, in which they describe what seems to have been attempt by a local NTV news crew to cause a provocation involving fascist thugs at a festival event. One of the thugs has been tentatively identified as a member of a group calling itself Soprotivlenie (“Resistance”). If you check out this groupuscule’s program, you will find that point no. 13 of that breathless document reads: “We demand a ban on all propaganda that undermines the foundations of the family: pornography, ‘free’ and same-sex love.” And here you can see the family-values-loving lads and lassies of Soprotivlenie at what is identified as a “martial arts seminar for white Europeans,” in Belgium in May of this year.

So why was the NTV news crew hanging out with these fascists? Or are the fascists just big fans of Igor Kon?

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Side by Side International Film Festival 2009

October 23­–31, 2009
Saint Petersburg, Russia
October 29, 2009
Press Release

Side by Side Organizing Committee Expresses Its Regret to NTV

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Igor Kon

The organizing committee of the Side by Side LGBT international film festival expresses its regret that NTV and its news correspondent Viktor Chernoguz were unable to objectively cover the events of the festival. On October 28, Professor Igor Kon, well known for his defense of the civil rights of the LGBT community, was scheduled to present his new book “The Boy Is Father to the Man” at the Bukvoyed chain bookstore on Vosstaniia Square in Saint Petersburg. However, the interest shown by the NTV news crew in a group of shaven-headed men who showed up for the presentation of this popular science book forced the organizers to cancel Professor Kon’s presentation.

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Members of "Resistance"?

On October 28, an NTV news crew led by correspondent Viktor Chernoguz came to Professor Igor Kon’s presentation at the Bukvoyed bookstore on Vosstaniia Square. A group of well-built young men with cropped hair arrived simultaneously with the news crew. These young men took up positions in the back rows of the room where Igor Kon’s presentation was to take place. To an impartial observer, it seemed as if the news crew was in charge of these young men: they chatted with them familiarly and made no attempt to hide the fact that they were getting ready to interview them. The festival organizers asked Igor Kon to hide, providing him with security guards, and announced that the presentation was cancelled. A squad of four police officers was summoned to the bookstore. The organizers of the event then waited until the public had left before transporting Igor Kon to his hotel.

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NTV's Viktor Chernoguz Reads a Book Entitled "Vodka"

An outside observer might think that the Side by Side organizing committee felt unwanted: NTV correspondent Viktor Chernoguz showed no interest either in them or a world-renowned scholar. We are forced to admit that there is an element of truth in this observation. Neither NTV nor any other television channel has previously shown interest in the festival, whose civic stance is summed up by its desire to serve as an open forum for discussions about civil rights and liberties, the lives of people with different gender identities, and a society that is intolerant of nonconformity.

In connection with the cancellation of Igor Kon’s presentation, the organizing committee of the Side by Side LGBT Film Festival expresses its regret that NTV and its employees are forced to resort to provocations in order to cover the events of the festival. We would also like to declare our openness to all the mass media. Esteemed

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The "Resistance" Will Be Televised

journalists! Homophobia is a mixture of fear and ignorance. Homophobia is a symptom of an unfree society. You shouldn’t exploit clichés that are so worn out that they’re nauseating. If you have nothing meaningful to say about homosexuals, then come closer and have a look. Don’t be afraid: homosexuality isn’t contagious. If any of you have forgotten, then we’ll remind you: we’re not in a prison camp. We are free people. Are you?

 Side by Side Festival Organizing Committee

Festival website: www.bok-o-bok.ru

Telephone: +7 (812) 313-93-41, +7 964 390 85 43. E-mail: info@bok-o-bok.ru, pr@bok-o-bok.ru

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Don't Let This Man into Your LGBT Film Festival

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“Unsere Uni!”: University of Vienna Occupied

More info on the occupation (including a live video stream from the main lecture hall and updates from other Austrian universities) here (mostly in German).

The following communiqué was posted on Indybay.Org:

We, students from all disciplines at the University of Vienna, independent from political groups or parties and spontaneously gathered in face of catastrophic developments in our university system, have squatted our university’s main lecture hall on Thursday afternoon, and have now been occupying a large part of our university for more than 60 hours.

Dear fellow students, 

We, students from all disciplines at the University of Vienna, independent from political groups or parties and spontaneously gathered in face of catastrophic developments in our university system, have squatted our university’s main lecture hall on Thursday afternoon, and have now been occupying a large part of our university for more than 60 hours, with grass-roots democratic decision making. 

Now we call out to you, our fellow students in Europe and the world, to join us in the transformation of our universities. Support us, get in touch with us and read the attached file! 

With all the best from the buzzing press centre, 
The Squat the University of Vienna 

PS: Please get back to us with any reactions, published articles or planned events!

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2+2/Practicing Godard (The Story of the “Communal Life” Seminar)

Vodpod videos no longer available.
2+2/Practicing Godard (Part I)

I was inspired to make this film after the police forced me to delete video footage of the OMON raid on our seminar in Nizhny Novgorod. I was struck by their brazen confidence that they could erase things from people’s memory as easily as you can delete a video image.

This film is meant as a response to their challenge. It shows that we can not only document the crimes of the authorities for posterity, but also shape our own space of interpretation. We can recreate our own histories, in which the deeds of the police will be remembered as shameful acts against society.
—Dmitry Vilensky

You can read the working version of the screenplay here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
2+2/Practicing Godard (Part II)

Concept and Direction: Dmitry Vilensky
Screenplay and Film Crew: Oleg Zhuravlyov, Nikolay Oleinikov, Kirill Medvedev, Dmitry Vilensky 
Camera and Editing: Dmitry Vilensky
Actors:  Andrei Amirov, Alexander Kuritsyn, Anna Tolkacheva, Andrei Nosov, Diana Sakaeva, Oleg Zhuravlyov, Nikolay Oleinikov, Marina Prokhorova, and many others who wish to remain anonymous.
This film is the result of a collaboration between the Vpered (“Forward”) Socialist Movement and Chto Delat Platform.

 

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“Strange Culture” (Berlin)

Art Laboratory Berlin in cooperation with the Arsenal – Institute for Film und Video Art e.V. presents:

The film Strange Culture documents the Kafkaesque case of the well-known artist and art professor Steve Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble).

When Kurtz called 911, following the unexpected death of his wife, emergency workers responding to the call found his artwork suspicious and informed the FBI. In the three-day raid which followed, federal agents seized his artwork, computers, books, etc. Initially accused of being a “bioterrorist,” he was eventually charged with “wire and mail fraud.”

Strange Culture, 2007, 75 Min. Director: Lynn Hershmann Leeson

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Peter Coyote, Thomas Jay Ryan, Josh Kornbluth and Steven Kurtz.

 
2. November 2009, 19:30 Uhr
Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Platz 2, 10785 Berlin
Eintritt: 6,50 Euro/ 5,00 Euro erm. (Studenten)


Film screening 19:30 Uhr
followed by a round table
on the case of Steve Kurtz from legal, cultural-political and curatorial perspectives, with
Eberhard Schultz (lawyer),
Mark C. Donfried (Institute for Cultural Diplomacy) and
Christian de Lutz (Art Laboratory Berlin).
Moderator: Regine Rapp (Art Laboratory Berlin).
 
This event takes place in the framework of the exhibition:
Seized – Critical Art Ensemble & Institute for Applied Autonomy
02 October, 2009 – 15 November, 2009
Art Laboratory Berlin
Prinzenallee 34 , 13359 Berlin
Open: Friday – Sunday  2-6PM; 30 October, 2-10PM
and by appointment: + 49 (0) 173 – 621 6347 

                                   

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Academy of Fine Arts Vienna Occupied!

akbildpk1-1024x683On Tuesday, October 20, 2009, the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna was squatted. Here is the statement and the demands of the occupants:

The Bologna process aims at an extensive convergence of European universities with the Anglo-American education system. The aim is to enter competition in the global education market in order to strengthen universities’ economic position and increase their research dependent revenues. The establishment of regulative norms and the harmonization of standards are the basis and at the same time the precondition of this process: without standardization there can be no measurability, without measurability no comparability, without comparability no competition. Economization and the logic of competition are imposed at every level of knowledge production.

The result is intercontinental as well as inter-EU competition, in which single universities and their departments compete amongst themselves for the best results and statistics. The processes involved in the creation of an education economy with knowledge as the commodity correspond to the general tendencies towards privatization and commodification of all spheres of life under neoliberal capitalism. They lead to educational institutions’ increased dependency on their sponsors, cynically defined as the autonomization of universities.

In this context autonomy is a euphemism for the new forms of governing institutions. The autonomized universities are not autonomous in the sense of self-determined at all. They are rather directed to fulfil the needs of economy and industry, as well as to subjugate themselves to market logic: efficiency, competition and managerial ruling structures. The democratisation of universities, implemented in the 1970s, is successively abolished — democratically legitimized bodies are disenfranchised and replaced by top-down hierarchical structures.

In the composition of the Bologna 3-level study model, a paradigm change has manifested itself; in the last few years there has been a shift from a pluralistic ideal of education to an economy-oriented model of education. The Academy of Fine Arts Vienna has repeatedly and explicitly positioned itself against this degradation and the establishment of the Bachelor-Master system.

We refuse to subjugate ourselves to the logic of politics and economy!

We’re fighting to define learning, teaching and research for ourselves!

We declare solidarity with the education protests in Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, Finland, France, Greece, Great Britain, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Croatia, Netherlands, Serbia, South Africa, and the USA!

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1. We oppose ourselves to university-based organisational structures that are determined by economic ends, as well as to the privatisation of teaching, research and knowledge production more broadly. We demand the full public funding and re-democratization of all educational institutions as well as the unconditional abolition of university fees!

2. We oppose ourselves to the pseudo-autonomy of universities. We demand the immediate withdrawal of §8* of the UG 2002!
§8.: “Upon the proposal of the minister of education, the government may impose the installation of a branch of study on a university or several universities, given this is necessary on the basis of political decisions in the fields of education or science, and given there is no related former agreement as in a contract regarding university performance.”
We demand the freedom to define what teaching and research, as well as science and art, mean in the context of our universities.

3. We oppose ourselves to quality assessments concerning science and art when these operate by economic criteria. We are against the forced imposition of self-marketing strategies on universities, and against the conflation of education with competitiveness and elitism.
We demand the abolition of knowledge surveys and agreements on productivity!

4. We oppose ourselves to the degrading transformation of universities and schools into training facilities oriented by the labour market.
We want education as space for thinking, not training as the mere reproduction of workforce!.

5. We insist that the government refrain from taking teaching and art, science and research seperable as objects of thought and administration. We demand that the corresponding ministeries be merged immediately.

We insist that the rector defend the position of the Academy — and not his private view — when it comes to negotiating the terms of productivity with the ministry.

We demand that the rector make sure all existing courses of study remain in place, according to the decisions taken at the academy.

We demand that all financial activities within the term of the current agreement on productivity (2007-2009) be immediately revealed.

Edited by teachers and students of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

Sign the petition: http://www.malen-nach-zahlen.at/?page_id=144

http://www.malen-nach-zahlen.at (content is being translated to english …)
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=154379632337
http://twitter.com/malennach

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Afghanistan: The Arrogance of Liberalism

Simon Jenkins:

Western leaders seem unable to resist the seduction of military power. They think that, because they could defeat communism and fly to the moon, they can get any poverty-stricken, tin-pot country to do what the west decides is best for it. They grasp at nation-building, that make-work scheme of internationalism against which any people, however pathetic, are bound to fight. All is hubris. The arrogance of empire has mutated into the arrogance of liberalism.

 

Malalai Joya, Afghan MP (July 2009, London):

(Thanks to Ady Cousins.)

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Stop the Criminal Prosecution of Arkhangelsk Historians and Archivists

The following text is a translation of a petition appeal made on behalf of Mikhail Suprun and Alexander Dudarev, a university historian and an Interior Ministry archivist who face criminal charges for their work documenting Germans who were deported to or imprisoned in the Arkhangelsk Region during the Stalinist period. You can read more about this case in The Guardian.
To add your signature to the petition, please go to this web page. There (at the bottom of the page) you are asked to provide your name and surname (ФИО:), profession (Профессия:), city of residence (Город:) and e-mail address. You may also sign the petition by sending this same information to zpch@zaprava.ru
Criminal charges have been filed against Professor Mikhail Suprun, chair of the department of Russian history at Pomorsk State University, and Colonel Alexander Dudarev, head of the Information Center of the Russian Federation Interior Ministry Directorate in Arkhangelsk Region. On September 13, 2009, Suprun’s apartment and university office were searched; police confiscated unique scholarly materials and Suprun’s computers.

Professor Suprun is charged with violating Article 137, Part 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code — “Illegal gathering of confidential information about an individual’s private life without his or her consent.” In addition, he is suspected of  “inciting an official to commit acts that clearly exceed his authority and that led to a significant violation of the rights and legal interests of citizens” (Article 286 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code, in conjunction with Article 33, Part 4). These charges stem from Mikhail Suprun’s academic research, which involves compilation of a data base on Germans — both Soviet citizens of German extraction and civilian German nationals — who were exiled to Arkhangelsk Region during WWII and the immediate postwar period. The date base also contains information about German POWs in the prison camps of Arkhangelsk Region. This research was conducted within the framework of an agreement concluded in 2007 between the German Red Cross and Pomorsk State University. According to police investigators, by compiling a list of five thousand victims of deportation, Suprun was engaged in the “gathering of information about their private lives without their consent.”  

The fact that Colonel Dudarev provided Suprun with access to the archives of the Information Center of the Interior Ministry Directorate —archives that were essential to his research — is interpreted by investigators as “abuse of authority by an official.” 

The criminal case was opened on the basis of a personal statement made by one of the former deportees and an inspection performed by the Arkhangelsk Regional Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB). At present, although FSB officials are probably aware of the absurdity of the charges filed, they continue to interrogate Colonel Dudarev’s co-workers in an attempt to find any information that would compromise their suspects.

The FSB’s role in opening this criminal case remains unclear. What was the nature of the inspection they carried out that then served as the basis for filing criminal charges? Are our secret services so genuinely concerned about protecting the right of citizens to  privacy that they are prepared for its sake to set aside their direct obligations to preserve national security?

Unfortunately, we presume that this is not the case. The fundamental reason for the criminal prosecution of Mikhail Suprun and Alexander Dudarev is an inimical attitude toward domestic and international efforts to research the tragic pages of our past — an attitude that has been publicly voiced on many occasions by Russia’s leaders. If  the FSB really is behind the “case of the Arkhangelsk historians,” then we are forced to conclude that the mentality of the Cheka/GPU/NKVD/KGB has survived in this agency. They have a stake in making sure that the truth about political repressions is never learned. Hence their attempts to intimidate the Russian academic community, of which the case of Suprun and Dudarev is an example.

Mikhail Suprun is a scholar who is well regarded in Europe. The goal of his academic research is to enable the objective study of the tragic pages in Russia’s history.

Alexander Dudarev is also well known to the academic community as a conscientious, knowledgeable archivist who has provided invaluable assistance to many historians in the course of their research, as well as for his help in compiling the Memory Books of the Victims of Political Repression.

We demand an immediate end to the criminal prosecution of Mikhail Suprun and Alexander Dudarev.

Liudmila Alexeeva, chair, Moscow Helsinki Committee
Alexander Daniel, board member, Memorial Society
Lev Ponomarev, For Human Rights All-Russia Public Movement
Yuri Samodurov, curator
Ernst Cherny, executive secretary, Public Committee for the Defense of Scholars
Karina Moskalenko, lawyer, The Centre of International Protection 
Boris Pustyntsev and Yuri Vdovin, Citizens’ Watch (Saint Petersburg)
Nina Katerli, writer; member, Moscow Writers Union and PEN Club
Boris Vyshnevsky, columnist, Novaya Gazeta; member of the federal bureau of the Yabloko Russian Democratic Party

Sergei Sorokin, Movement against Violence
Alexei Yablokov, chair, Green Russia faction, Yabloko Russian Democratic Party
Et al. 

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