Monthly Archives: March 2010

Anastasia Denisova: Threatened with Prison for Windows or for Human Rights?

Russian Federation: Criminal proceedings against human rights defender Ms Anastasia Denisova

The formal pre-hearing in the trial of human rights defender Ms Anastasia Denisova will take place on 22 March 2010 at 10 am. Anastasia Denisova has been charged with the “illegal use of non-licensed software by a person in an official position” and the “creation of computer malware”. If found guilty of these charges, she could face up to nine years in prison and a fine of up to 700,000 Rubles (approximately 17,400 Euro).

Anastasia Denisova is the president of the Youth Group for Tolerance “ETHnICS” (YGT “ETHnICS”), a member of the Coordinating Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement, an employee of Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, and co-coordinator of the ”Green Alternative” group in the region of Krasnodar.

YGT “ETHnICS” monitors manifestations of xenophobia and the situation of ethnic minorities in the Krasnodar region. Front Line previously issued an appeal in relation to the intimidation and harassment of Anastasia Denisova on 20 October 2009.

On 12 January 2010, Anastasia Denisova was summoned to the Krasnodar Police Department of Internal Affairs where she was informed that criminal proceedings had been initiated against her in December 2009. Anastasia Denisova has been charged with the “illegal use of non-licensed software by a person in an official position” and the “creation of computer malware” under Article 146 part 3, paragraph D and Article 273 part 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation respectively.

The charges against Anastasia Denisova are based on the examination of computer equipment which does not belong to either Anastasia Denisova or YGT “ETHnICS”.

On 11 January 2010, Anastasia Denisova’s apartment was subjected to a three-hour search by three police officers from the Krasnodar Crimes Department, who were searching for pirated software. The police officers presented a warrant that was issued during the New Year holiday and refused to give Anastasia Denisova a copy of this warrant. The laptop of Anastasia Denisova’s friend, an external hard drive and a USB stick were confiscated in the search.

Anastasia Denisova and YGT “ETHnICS” have been targeted for some time now. On 12 October 2009, officials from Krasnodar Economic Crime Department and the commercial firm “SPECTR” raided premises where Anastasia Denisova was working, assuming that it was the office of YGT “ETHnICS”, to search for counterfeited copies of software. However the address in the complaint which provoked this search did not coincide with the address of the premises. Three system units, none of which belonged to either Anastasia Denisova or YGT “Ethnics”, were confiscated in the raid.

In October 2009, Anastasia Denisova was prevented from travelling to the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw by a representative from the Service of Aircraft Security, who refused to allow her to carry her laptop as hand luggage on board the plane.

Despite declarations by both a representative of Austrian Airlines and the head of the shift at the passport control service that the laptop would definitely be damaged if checked in and that it was the first time they had ever heard such demands, the security representative insisted and referred to “internal instructions”.

In October 2009, the official newspaper “Kubanskie Novosti” (‘News of Kuban’) published several articles targeting YGT “ETHnICS” and Anastasia Denisova in which the author stated that the human rights monitoring issues edited by Anastasia Denisova were “inciting ethnic hatred”.

In August 2009, Anastasia Denisova along with a photojournalist were returning from a trip to Abkhazia when they were stopped for 7 hours by customs officers. Anastasia Denisova’s luggage was searched and the customs officers and Russian border officers questioned her for several hours about her human rights activities. The photojournalist accompanying her was searched, and more than 20 GB of information were copied from his laptop and confiscated.

YGT “ETHnICS” has been restrained in its activities since 2007, when it was investigated simultaneously by the Federal Registration Office and the Federal Tax Service, and subjected to a bank inspection.

Activists of the group sent complaints about infringements made by the Registration Office during these check-ups and won a court case concerning the illegal demands of the Tax Service. However, for three years now the organisation has been restricted in its work due to legal proceedings and was only able to re-open its bank account in December 2009.

Front Line believes that Anastasia Denisova is being targeted as a direct result of her work in the defence of human rights, in particular her work with YGT “ETHnICS”. Front Line sees this as part of a pattern of ongoing harassment against Anastasia Denisova. Front Line is concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Anastasia Denisova.

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, Russian society

Radical East Performance (Montreuil)

le peuple qui manque

Mercredi 31 Mars 2010 – 20h30
Géographies fracturées #4
Radical East Performance
NON GRATA / R.E.P. GROUP / CHTO DELAT ?
Cinéma Le Méliès @ Montreuil


D’Europe de l’Est souffle un vent qui n’en finit pas de nous enthousiasmer. Encore méconnus en France, les groupes estoniens Non Grata, ukrainiens R.E.P. Group (Revolutionary Experimental Space), et russes Chto delat? (Que faire?) pratiquent un art performatif, signe d’un renouveau bienvenu et riche de promesses d’un art politique contemporain. En filigrane de leurs pratiques collectives de vidéo, performance ou réappropriation des espaces publics, ils mêlent théorie, art et activisme politique, redéfinissant des perspectives critiques sur l’histoire, le capitalisme, la production des images, des représentations et des subjectivités. Ce qui unit ces formes radicales, c’est! peut-être une indécidabilité permanente entre réel et fiction, une forme d’ensauvagement et de chaos, marquée par une forte prégnance d’une esthétique surréaliste,  absurde, carnavalesque, qui utilise autant la parodie, l’humour, la subversion, que la construction réciproque de l’imagination et des espaces politiques.

En présence des membres du collectif estonien Non Grata (sous réserve)

R.E.P. (Revolutionary Experimental Space) Group a été créé à Kiev en 2004 par de jeunes artistes ukrainiens, en réaction à la période historique de la Révolution Orange.  R.E.P. choisit l’espace public comme domaine de ses expérimentations artistiques. Montrées aux biennales de Prague et d’Istanbul en 2009, les vidéos de R.E.P. Group sont inédites en France.

Fondé début 2003 à St Petersbourg, le groupe de travail Chto delat? (Que faire?) est animé par un collectif d’artistes, critiques, philosophes et écrivains, qui développe des projets artistiques collaboratifs, notamment au travers d’œuvres vidéo, d’installations, d’émissions de radio ou d’explorations artistiques de l’espace urbain. Plate-forme pour la créativité engagée, Chto Delat? construit son travail depuis une perspective collectiviste et d’auto-organisation, s’attachant aux poétiques et politiques aujourd’hui, avec une attention particulière pour la situation de la Russie contemporaine. Dans ses vidéos, Chto Delat? utilise les procédés de détournement ou de re-enactement, remettant en scène en scène des films de Jean-Luc Godard ou des textes de Bertolt Brecht. Le travail de Chto Delat? a été montré en France au Plateau en 2007.

Non grata est un collectif de quarante artistes de performance venant pour la plupart d’Estonie (Tallin), mais aussi du Chili, de la Finlande, de l’Allemagne, de la Suède et du Québec. Le collectif Non Grata se distingue par l’anonymat de ses membres, sa dissociation de la scène artistique locale, son mépris pour les médias de masse, ses actions sauvages et ses performances pouvant se prolonger pendant plusieurs jours (les «ghettomarathons»). Montrées en Asie, Europe et aux Etats-Unis, les vidéos de Non Grata sont inédites en France.

Projections de

NON GRATA – National Security Law (2004, 5 min) – Sports monsters  (5 min) – Catolica Chile Santiago Action Lecture Series – Part 2 (2005, 3 min) – Action lecture series leccion 2 – classification of performance (2005, 4 min.) – Documentary film (2003, 9 min) / R.E.P. Group – REP Party, 2006, 4 min – Untitled action, 2005, 3 min – We will REP you, 2005, 11 min – Broadening of mind, 2005, 4 min – Smuggling, 9 min – Fast art, 2005, 9 min – Lirnyk, 2006, 13 min / CHTO DELAT? – 2 + 2 Practicing Godard (2009, extrait)  – Angry Sandwichpeople, or in a Praise of Dialectic (2006, )  – a video project by Chto Delat, réalisé par Olga Egorova, Nikolay Oleinikov, Dmitry Vilensky, texte de Bertolt Brecht

Programmation : Aliocha Imhoff & Kantuta Quiros / le peuple qui manque

Informations pratiques:
Cinéma Le Méliès, 7, Avenue de la Résistance, Montreuil 93100
M° Croix-de-Chavaux (sortie n°3).
Tarifs du cinéma, Plan du quartier

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Justice for Kofi!

http://www.fightbacknews.org/2010/3/17/gainesville-students-protest-police-shooting

JUSTICE FOR KOFI!

Gainesville students protest police shooting

By Jared Hamil | March 17, 2010

Gainesville, FL – Over 400 angry protesters – a coalition of students, local residents and university professors – rallied and marched to protest the racist police shooting of Kofi Adu-Brempong.

Adu-Brempong is an international graduate student from Ghana who was shot in the face by a University of Florida policeman. After receiving a call from a neighbor concerned that Adu-Brempong was screaming, due to stress over his studies and his immigration status, campus police stormed his apartment, tased him three times and then shot him in the face with an assault rifle.

Adu-Brempong is hospitalized in critical condition, having lost his tongue and jaw. Incredibly, the police action took less than 30 seconds. Having suffered a case of childhood polio, Adu-Brempong was unable to walk without a cane. To add to the outrage, the University of Florida police charged him with a felony for ‘resisting arrest with violence.’

Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) led the campus action. Beginning with a rally and speakers at Turlington Plaza, the mass of protesters marched through campus to the Board of Trustees in the Emerson Hall Alumni Building. The Board of Trustees governs the entire university. Since the building was closed to the public, the protesters pulled the doors open, pushed past security and took over the building.

They presented the board with a list of demands, including dropping all charges against Kofi Adu-Brempong. The other important demand is the firing of Keith Smith, the officer who shot Kofi in the face. In 2008, Keith Smith was given a verbal warning by the Gainesville city police department where he previously worked. Smith and three other police officers were throwing eggs and harassing African Americans in the local community. The university police ignored this warning and hired Keith Smith.

As the students settled in, waiting to see how the Board of Trustees would respond, tension rose inside the boardroom. After a half hour, a trustee came out to speak to the protesters. Following his lead, the students proceeded to give speeches about stopping police brutality and continuing the fight for Adu-Brempong. An hour later, the protesters decided the demands of the coalition were clearly received by the board and left the building.

Then the protesters marched to the Tigert Hall Administration Building for another rally, targeting University President Bernie Machen. Unfortunately President Machen was “out of town.” The students chanted, “Justice for Kofi!” and “No justice, no peace! No racist police!”

Fernando Figueroa, of Gainesville SDS spoke: “We will not let up until we gain justice for Kofi. We are taking a stand against police brutality and racism on our campus and throughout the country.” Figueroa continued, “It is astounding to see so few reporters covering the point blank shooting of an African man in the face here. This is the same campus where you could not walk ten feet without bumping into a reporter or TV crew following a white student’s famous ‘Don’t tase me bro!’ incident.”

Late in the afternoon, the student protesters attended a student government meeting to demand a resolution calling for a grand jury investigation of the racist cop. With some persuasion, the resolution passed. With protests heating up in Gainesville, the Coalition for Justice Against Police Brutality vows to continue the fight for Kofi Adu-Brempong.

_______________________

We gratefully acknowledge receipt of this news from our comrades at Edu-Factory Collective and Occupy California.

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Built by Migrants, Not by Druids

MIGRATION is one of the most contentious issues of modern times. Add the “im-” prefix and it’s practically a swear word in some circles. If public debate around the issue is ever given any lip service, it generally has a whiff of racism, or more increasingly the stench of fascism about it.

The right-wing gutter press have managed to file ‘bogus asylum seekers’ and ‘illegal immigrants’ into the same category as child killers and sex offenders. There is so much that can be said to counter tabloid lies on immigration that it would be easy to fill a whole article with facts refuting them. But that may not be necessary when a simple sketch of a rarely-articulated history of Wales serves so much better to undercut the dominant right-wing discourse on migration.

Opponents of immigration often fix upon the notion of an indigenous culture that requires defending from outside influence, a ‘way of life’ that is under attack from foreigners. The ’shared identity’ of the nation-state is appealed to, promoting the idea that the interests of all indigenous people are separate to those of ‘foreigners’.

This imagined community of a country is a construct. Even in a small nation like Wales most people never know, meet, or even hear of most of their fellow countrymen. Any concept of national identity is not innate and unchanging, but fragile, contested, and constructed over time. The hegemonic concept of national identity serves as a means of social control to dissuade the working people of one country from making natural alliances with the global multitude.

British imperialism led to the colonisation of over 57 countries (mostly in the 16th and 17th centuries), and the economic opportunities offered by the sprawl of empire meant that many ambitious Welshmen were able to make fortunes as slavers and plantation owners. By the late 18th Century this wealth began to be brought back to Wales, and financed the foundations of the industrial growth that was to follow. From the ironworks at Cyfarthfa in Merthyr Tydfil to the harbour of Port Penrhyn at Bangor, industrial infrastructure was built on the profits of imperial conquest and slavery.

The industrial revolution affected the culture of Wales to such a point that we can almost consider anything before it as mere preamble. For the vast majority of its history the population of Wales never rose above half a million. It was only with the onset of industrialisation and the mass migration of workers to fuel the new industries that our population rose.

The size and scale of this population explosion cannot be underestimated. The figures tell their own story: by the time of the economic crisis of 1921 the population had grown by over two million. This movement into Wales was out of step with the rest of Europe. Between 1846 and 1914, 43 million people left for the United States, every European nation was seeing an outward flow of workers to the new world. Every nation except Wales. In the decade before the First World War, the rate of immigration into Wales was second only to that of the USA.

Although much of this inward migration was from other parts of Britain and from Ireland, many came from much further afield. It was not until 1905, under the weight of xenophobic agitation against Eastern-European Jews, that the UK passed the first “Aliens Act”, which enshrined the ability of the state to reject the pleas of people fleeing persecution or seeking a better life. The entire current migration-management system, with its web of detention centres, checkpoints and army of agents, can be traced back to this one piece of anti-Semitic legislation.

Without the mass migration that resulted from industrialisation, and fuelled by the wealth of imperialism, Wales as we currently understand and experience it simply would not exist. Any recognisably separate identity to that of England would have disappeared into the footnotes of history. Over a period of four generations, from the late 18th to the early 20th Century, these immigrants were thoroughly absorbed, creating a melting pot that gave birth to a unique culture. A culture which defines “Welshness” far more keenly than any bardic ceremony.

The movement of people generally follows the movement of wealth. It is no surprise that while the British ruling class conquered and exploited much of the world, people living in these impoverished and plundered areas followed the wealth to the UK. In the same way that the straight lines that divide so much of the world were drawn by Western statesmen as arbitrary divisions of colonial “possessions”, the infrastructure of border control acts as a clumsy attempt to avoid the payback of imperialist conquest.

The failure to give any realistic form of reparation to former colonies has created vast numbers of dispossessed people. Modern travel now means that these people are able to move to the former imperial states and work to send money home. This migrant work has become the bedrock of many economies where the “brightest and best” are encouraged to work overseas to simulate the domestic situation. People dispossessed by imperialist domination during the age of empire, and more recent neo-colonialism, fully deserve the opportunity to enjoy a share of the wealth that was taken from them.

We in the Welsh working class need to recognise migrant workers for what they are: fellow exploited people, shaped and buffeted by the same forces that created our own unequal economic position. Migrants are not a separate social group, they are labour on the move. As such they are fellow-competitors for the crumbs from the rich man’s table, and also potential allies in the struggle for an equal society.

Tom Fowler is just one member of No Borders South Wales, an organisation that campaigns for freedom of movement and equality for all. Born, raised and resident in Newport, he has been involved in grassroots community activism for many years.

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We would like to thank the author for permission to reprint this article.


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Artem Loskutov: Convicted in a Frame-Up

We have written about the case of Novosibirsk artist Artem Loskutov and the international solidarity campaign it provoked on several occasions. On March 18, a court in Novosibirsk found Artem guilty of possession of narcotics and sentenced him to pay a fine of 20,000 rubles (approximately 500 euros). This might be construed as a victory of sorts because the prosecutor had asked for a one-year suspended sentence and one year of probation, and the judge threw out another charge (purchase of narcotics). On the other hand, it is not a victory in that the court rejected the substantial claims by Artem and his defenders that the local “anti-extremist” police had framed him in revenge for his role in the annual Monstrations in Novosibirsk. In fact, the judge got straight to the heart of what is wrong with the criminal justice system in Russia (and elsewhere, it has to be admitted) by declaring that Artem’s testimony was false because it didn’t gibe with the testimony given by the cops. No wonder that the conviction rate in Russia is way over ninety percent: the cops are never wrong (even as they continue to sow murder and mayhem with alarming frequency).

Artem and his lawyer intend to appeal the decision. As does, apparently, the prosecutor, who claimed to be unhappy with the sentence. (And since the principle of double jeopardy does not apply in Russian law, he can appeal for a harsher sentence.)

You can contribute to Artem’s defense fund through his WebMoney account: R371097971630. You can also help Artem by publicizing his case and sending protest letters to the Russian authorities. There is no doubt in our minds that the spirited campaign that erupted throughout Russia and around the world after his arrest in May 2009 made a huge difference in determining even last week’s (somewhat disappointing) outcome.

On March 15, Artem made a closing statement in his trial. He recorded and transcribed the statement, and posted it on the Kiss My Babushka website. We have translated excerpts from this remarkable text, below, along with excerpts from an interview Artem gave to Radio Svodoba the same day.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I will not touch on the legal aspects of the prosecution’s case because in his closing remarks my lawyer has already demonstrated the utter groundlessness of this case, and I am in agreement with all the points of his defense.

I will say something else: the reprisal against me was in the works long ago, and I knew about this. On May 1, 2008, officers of the UBOP (Anti-Organized Crime Directorate), which had not yet been renamed Center “E” (Center for Extremism Prevention), attempted to kidnap several participants of the Monstration, a peaceful holiday march that had been cleared with the municipal administration [of Novosibirsk]. For several years running, young and not-so-young politically conscious people had produced their own history during this march by making appropriate demands to our absurd reality. UPOB officers photographed and copied down the passport information of the Monstration participants they illegally transported to [the police station on] Oktyabrskaya, 86. According to Alexandra Popova, they promised to “find narcotics” on anyone who again participated in the Monstration. Despite the defense’s repeated appeals, the court declined to question this witness.

In April 2009, the UBOP (which was now already called Center “E” and was combating “extremism” — i.e., all criticism of the actions of the authorities, exposure of corruption on the part of bureaucrats, the struggle against police abuse, and even the use of Maxim Gorky’s line “Rights are taken, not given”) renewed its interest in Monstration participants. Under pretenses that were false, outrageous and had no connection to reality, [Center “E” officer] Oleg Trofimov, who was questioned by the court, made phone calls to my university and my mother, demanding that they persuade me to report for a “discussion.” He referred to statements, allegedly in his possession, that I was a member of a Satanic cult and that I set fire to cats and dogs. I recognized the illegality of these summonses, but the cup of my patience had run over, and so, in order to put an end to this madness, I went to Center “E” on May 1 [2009] for a “discussion” and presented myself  to Sergei Miller, who was questioned by the court. During our discussion, Miller indicated his own negative attitude to the Monstration and made it perfectly clear that the criminal code contained many articles that, given the will, could be applied to Monstration participants and, in particular, to its organizers, in whose number he included me. On this note we parted company.

At that moment the regional court had already authorized a wiretap of my phone. The reason given for the wiretap request was that I was the “leader of a criminal group, which plans to organize mass riots accompanied by violence, pogroms of stores and offices, arson and property destruction, as well as possible resistance to the authorities, and plans to block the movement of surface transport during the May holidays.” My actions were allegedly in possible violation of Article 212, Part 1, and Article 268, Part 1, of the Russian Federation Criminal Code.

On the morning of May 15, after the May holidays were already over and no mass riots had taken place, Miller suddenly telephoned me and once again attempted to summon me for a “discussion.” He refused to send me the written summons required by law in such cases, just as he refused to indicate the purpose of our meeting. I was juggling my job at the university with my studies, and that particular day a pre-defense of my thesis project had been scheduled; I did not intend to skip this without a good reason. I told this to Miller, and in response I  heard what appeared to be an absolutely real threat that I would be detained during the course of the day by Miller’s subordinates. “Y0u are cheeky. I’m going to send a car with dogs to get you,” he promised. Miller kept his word: on the evening of the same day I was kidnapped by officers of the Center for Extremism Prevention. I should note that Friday evening was a quite convenient time to kidnap me. No one would have missed me at work for at least two days, and it would have been practically impossible for me to collect the necessary character references for the custody hearing. Everything was supposed to happen as quietly and unobtrusively as possible.

In court, Miller testified that he had nothing to do with the kidnapping and the filing of criminal charges. It is obvious, however, that after the case had already been opened, his direct subordinate Trofimov collected personal information about me that was entered into the record at the custody hearings. This included copies of certain texts and photographs of unknown origin that bore his signature and surname. He also interrogated my neighbors and summoned the parents of defense witnesses for “discussions,” and he visited me in the temporary detention facility to have another such discussion. Moreover, in the report that served as the basis for the filing of criminal charges, it is stated that, according to intelligence, I had allegedly been distributing narcotic substances in a nonexistent university. It is clear that this information was cooked up that morning so quickly that there wasn’t even enough time to retype it. The threads that hold [the state’s case] together are apparent to the attentive observer, and they are there to see during the entire course of this fabrication.

[….]

In January, NTV broadcast Katerina Gordeeva’s documentary film “We Are Not Vegetables.” The film [inserted, below] is about people who cannot reconcile themselves to injustice, and it also talks about my trial. The prosecutor voiced the opinion that that the defense’s witnesses were shielding me, that they were aiding me in escaping responsibility. He has apparently forgotten, however, that among these witnesses were Antonina Proshkina, Danil Shatalin, and Ilya Egipko, who were absolute strangers to me and were only interested in seeing justice done.  They were not too lazy or afraid to appear in court and give honest testimony, and that is because they were outraged by the flagrant injustice they had witnessed. This injustice also outraged the hundreds of people who participated in support actions not only in Novosibirsk, but also in Barnaul, Tula, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg, Berlin, Leipzig, and other cities. These people not only signed petitions, held pickets, wrote songs, and made films, but [some of them] also even went on hunger strike. If you think for a second, that meant they risked their lives. I was in jail, but I was happy because I knew how many worthy people supported me, from schoolchildren and university students to Nobel laureates.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

All of Russia (and not only Russia) knows that the attempts to pin any crimes whatsoever on me were a flagrant farce from the very beginning. Even the prosecution’s witnesses practically testified on my behalf.

What was the purpose of all these provocations and crude procedural violations, these slanders and false, baseless accusations? Why was this trial necessary? Was it all meant only to punish me? No, there is a “principle” at work here, a kind of “philosophy.” Behind the stated charge there is another charge that is unstated. By prosecuting me, the authorities are pursuing the goal of concealing their own crimes.

I have no doubt that the only correct and legal verdict [in this case] is an acquittal. I know the law. But I also know [current] legal practice, and so today, in my closing remarks, I ask nothing from the court.

Everyone knows that I am not guilty of the crime I am charged with committing. And therefore I do not intend to ask the court for mercy. It is a disgrace for me and for my country that the prosecutor’s direct and flagrant deception of the court is essentially deigned legal. It is a misfortune that the entire country is convinced that the courts act at the behest of bureaucrats and the powers that be.

You can give me a suspended sentence or send me to a prison colony, but I am confident that no honest person will condemn me.

The sentence and the trial itself are tacit admissions of the significance of the things I have done and said. And my future rehabilitation [i.e., the overturning of the conviction] is as inevitable as today’s conviction.

As many times as merchants and tyrants murder prophets, so many times Socrates will die on this earth. He will be born again in a new genius or prophet, who will discern the merits and vices in his own world, and tell people about them with his living speech, whether as a sermon or a poem.

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Here are some excerpts from an interview with Artem published (in Russian) on the Radio Svoboda website. The interview was given before the verdict in his case was announced.

[Artem Loskutov:] The prosecuting attorney asked for a one-year suspended sentence and one year of probation. The prosecutor believes my guilt is proven, that the police detectives corroborate each other in their testimonies. He had no problems with what they said. During closing arguments I objected to this, and my lawyer objected even more strongly. In my closing remarks, I catalogued the obvious falsifications the police officers made in their testimonies, and I recounted my long relationship, beginning on May 1, 2008, with the UBOP, which later became Center “E”.

[…]

I talked about my interactions with a certain Mr. Miller, the head of some kind of division within Center “E”, who told me: “Well, Artem, if you continue organizing demonstrations, then there are very many articles in the Criminal Code that we can charge you with. Someone will show up to [your demonstration] and start a fight, and then you will have a riot on your hands. And you as the organizer will be responsible for the whole mess. Or something else could happen: a pogrom could be incited, someone could begin breaking shop windows…”

[Radio Svoboda:] Did you write down your conversation with Mr. Miller?

[Artem Loskutov:] Yes, but I didn’t even bother to make the transcript public. We talked for an hour. He didn’t refer to narcotics directly; he talked about certain articles [of the Criminal Code, as was just mentioned].

In his remarks, the prosecutor said that the drugs were planted [on me] incorrectly somehow: “If they wanted to frame you, then why did they shadow you? They could have just planted the drugs in the morning. Why did they bring the [state] witnesses [required by Russian law in police searches] and wait for hour and a half? They could have simply planted the drugs just like that. And, generally speaking, it is not that easy to plant marijuana. It is much easier to plant heroin. It weighs less.”

According to the prosecutor, it turns out that planting drugs is an everyday fact of life. In my case, the planting of the drugs didn’t appear so obvious: attempts were made to give the case the appearance of authenticity. And so the prosecutor said in court that, if the planting of the drugs didn’t appear so simple and brazen, that meant they hadn’t been planted.

I know the working methods of the Novosibirsk UBO. There is this guy in Novosibirsk named Vadim Ivanov; he was the leader of the Avant-Garde of Red Youth (AKM). In 2006, when the G8 summit was taking place in Petersburg, a large number of activists from various regions headed there, and the authorities removed them from trains. One of these people was Vadim Ivanov from Novosibirsk. Surprise, surprise: it was the very same Captain Lazarev, who detained me, who removed him from the train and discovered 26 grams of hashish on him. He was charged with possession and given a two-year suspended sentence.

[…]

Getting back to my closing remarks, I said that it was not so much me who was being sentenced, that this was an attempt on the part of several Center “E” officers to escape responsibility. Because if you acquit me, then that automatically means they fabricated a criminal case. And that is why this court will probably prove incapable of handing down a verdict of not guilty.

The judge has turned down all our requests to question the witnesses to my arrest. And the prosecutor paid no mind to certain facts:  that my fingerprints were not discovered on “my” packet of drugs; that I am not a drug addict (as a narcological test showed), that I am an outstanding student (how is that compatible with drug use?), etc.

[…]

[Radio Svoboda:] What kind of public reaction does the Loskutov Affair provoke today?

[Artem Loskutov:] Public reaction is already fading, of course. Ten months have gone by: I am already sick of the case myself, and everyone else must be even more tired of it. Nevertheless, on February 23, we carried out a street action, entitled “Drug Planting Championship,” in memory of Alexei Lazarev, the Center “E” officer who supervised my arrest. [See the video, above.] Contestants threw little bags filled with medicinal herbs from the drugstore into my bag, which I held while standing at some distance from them. Then we increased the distance because everyone was hitting the target. We were trying to find the most accurate drugs tosser, and the prize was captain’s stripes. Around eighty people came out in minus 25 weather to join us. I think that indicates that people still care about the case.

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Filed under activism, contemporary art, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society

Free Seher Tümer!

Turkish court sentences trade unionist Seher Tümer to seven years in prison

International solidarity needed to press for expedited appeal

Lawyers have filed an appeal seeking to overturn the conviction of trade union activist Seher Tümer. Late in the day of 18 March, the Ankara High Criminal Court in Turkey declared Tümer guilty of belonging to an illegal Kurdish organization, and “making propaganda” through participation in public demonstrations, and sentenced her to more than seven years in prison. Tümer has already spent close to one year in prison. Her lawyers maintain there is no evidence to back these charges.

The global union federation Public Services International (PSI) contends that Tümer has been targeted for her activities in the labour and women’s movements in Turkey. Tümer is branch secretary of Saglik ve Sosyal Hizmet Emekçileri Sendikasi (SES),the trade union representing public employees in health and social services.

“We are deeply concerned by what appears to be a travesty of justice in Tümer’s case, and numerous recent cases like it,” says PSI general secretary Peter Waldorff.

“We are seeing a pattern of political persecution of trade union activists in Turkey. We believe national ‘security’ laws are being used as a pretext to silence union leaders. This abuse of human rights must stop.”

Carola Fischbach-Pyttel, general secretary of the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) adds, “Our affiliate members in Turkey have asked us to call on trade unionists world-wide to continue to raise their voices on Tümer’s behalf.

“Please write letters to Turkey’s prime minister, president, and justice minister demanding open examination of Tümer’s case record in an expedited appeal process.”

Because of the backlog in cases, it could take longer than a year for Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals to consider Tümer’s appeal. Tümer’s lawyers maintain that her house was searched by police when she was not at home, in contravention of the Turkish criminal code, and charges should be dismissed on this basis alone. Texts printed from her computer were used as evidence in court, despite arguments for consideration of freedom of expression. Further, it was noted in court that demonstrations that Tümer participated in were peaceful and related to trade union and women’s rights. PSI and Turkish trade unions gathered more than 8000 signatures in a petition demanding justice for Tümer that was presented to authorities earlier this month.

Send a letter of protest on line and for more information contact communications@world-psi.org.

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We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.

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Stop Nespressure in Russia!

Stop Nespressure in Russia! Rights and Recognition for Nestlé Waters Workers and their Union!

In November 2009, workers at Nestlé Waters Direct in Domodedovo, near Moscow, joined together to do something about eroding real wages and deteriorating working conditions. They formed a legal union — and management responding by harassment, discriminatory work assignments, cutting drivers’ wages by half and sacking the union vice-chair, who was formally accused of damaging the company by doing his job too well! The workers are determined to defend their union and win their rights — you can support them by using this form to send a message to management of Nestlé, the world’s largest food company.

To learn more about Nestlé’s violations of worker rights, see the IUF’s Nespressure website.

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We gratefully acknowledge receipt of news of this campaign from LabourStart.

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Filed under activism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, trade unions