Monthly Archives: June 2010

The News from Moldova

Five recent videos about the dire state of the economy and the lives of workers in Moldova, as well as protest actions against this state of affairs, from our friends in the People’s Resistance (Rezistenţa Populară/Народное сопротивление).

White Swan

Vodpod videos no longer available.

To Wage Laborers

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cupcini Sugar

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Our Answer to Slave Labor — People’s Resistance!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Red Stars

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Practicing Memory (Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto, Italy)

Practicing Memory graphic identity by Chiara Figone, after Watching over the Reichstag, 2010, by Société Réaliste.

On 25-26 June 2010, during the 13th edition of Arte al Centro (Art at the Centre), the annual international festival that focuses on the sphere of art in the ongoing transformation of society, Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto will be opening:

Practicing Memory – in a time of an all-encompassing present

25 June – 30 September 2010

Friday 25 June, from 3 pm onwards

Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto
via Serralunga 27, Biella

Practicing Memory – in a time of an all-encompassing present
group exhibition curated by Matteo Lucchetti

With: Francesco Arena, Rossella Biscotti, Beatrice Catanzaro, Chto Delat, Michelangelo Consani, Danilo Correale, Dora Garcia, André Guedes, Shilpa Gupta, Rabih Mroué, Nikolay Oleynikov, Wendelien Van Oldenborgh, Mirko Smerdel, Société Réaliste, Stefanos Tsivopoulos and Vangelis Vlahos

In a world in which national narratives and their links with the present have been replaced by the construction of a supposedly global memory made of collective media events, with all their emotional impact, what value can be given to work carried out by artists on the mechanisms that occur between oblivion and memory? How is it possible to create short circuits in contemporary flows of history, which are dominated by the detachment needed to ensure the blindness with which the present is understood? Practices linked to memory are part of a process that is under way. Here the value they acquire is that of “memory systems” – as Leonardo Sciascia, in his Teatro della Memoria, defines the way in which Giordano Bruno conceives his method of creating visual codes linked to memory. And it was again Sciascia who described how an age in which memory is no longer exercised is an age destined to become a “totalising and totalitarian” present.

The present time, to which the exhibition spaces are devoted, and its relationship with the past constitutes the initial moment of reflection on the concept of “practising memory”, around which the exhibition revolves. In a contemporary scenario in which present-day rhetoric takes up such a large part of the flow of communication, the construction of individual and collective memory is suggested as a necessary practice within the constant social and political process which takes place between memory and amnesia. Practicing Memory investigates the potential for interaction opened up by art with regard to this process, problematising some of the key concepts that form part of any disquisition on memory.

The shared backdrop against which most of the works on show project their own research are ascribable to a European context, which needs to be seen not just in geographic terms but also as regards the scenarios it involves. These include the postcolonial legacy, the post-soviet dimension, great national narratives and processes of a monumentalisation of memory towards what is referred to as the “planned loss of history”. The European continent and its historical, social, and cultural heritage is thus repeatedly quoted and brought into question within its own historiographical dimension. Running parallel to this there is another category of reflections which contrast with the circularity of the concatenations of macro and micro narratives. This takes place through the inclusion of analyses which reveal the critical aspects that emerge within the process of creating memory. This leads to the idea of accessibility and participation in drafting a public memory, directly linked to the antagonistic effect of counter-memories. The concept of repetition as a fundamental mechanism of the exercise of memory and, again, the individual stories of the multitude – of the masses who are never the subject of history, and who are as fragile as straws and never present in their own historical age, as Masanobu Fukuoka puts it.

The works chosen vary from videos to installations, to wall paintings and performances, all the way through to the work on the exhibition display by the French collective Société Réaliste.

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Student Power: Puerto Rico and Zagreb

June 8. Students at the University of Zagreb crash a session of the university senate, whose members were going to vote on fee increases. As you can see in the video above, the senators were forced to leave the room.

June 1. Members of the student negotiating committee at the University of Puerto Rico, where students at all 11 campuses have been on strike since late April, report on the progress of the negotiations and explain their demands. Unfortunately, talks have now apparently broken down and the university administration has resorted to threats of legal action and the use of repressive police actions. Details here and here.

As always, our thanks to the comrades at Occupy California for keeping us informed.

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The Bulldozer Exhibition (Kadashi, Moscow)

Roland Oliphant, “Facing the Bulldozer” (Russia Profile):

Activists have dug themselves in at a building site in central Moscow to stop developers from throwing up a housing and office complex next door to an ancient Church in one of Moscow’s oldest and most picturesque districts. The situation deteriorated into open confrontation on Sunday night, when developers sent security guards in to clear the site and begin work. They were stopped by activists, including a State Duma deputy.

The quarrel revolves around plans to build what the developers call a “multifunctional complex” – a mixture of housing and office space dubbed “Five Capitals” – next to the 17th century Church of the Resurrection in [Kadashi], a historical area of central Moscow that is also home to the Tretyakov Gallery. No one involved seems to be able to remember exactly when the drama began; the consensus is that it has been going on “for a few years.” Banners posted outside the building site by the developers give the start date of construction only as 2009.

Critics of the plan, including State Duma deputies, the parish church and the combative architectural heritage group Arkhnadzor, objected not only that the planned buildings change the character of the area, but that they necessitate the destruction of a number of historic buildings.


The moratorium only lasted five days, until the evening of June 7, when private security guards arrived to clear away protestors and secure the entrance to the site. A confrontation ensued in which the private security guards tried to prevent them from picketing the building site, reportedly kicking and punching Just Russia State Duma Deputy Valery Gartung when he tried to challenge them.

The standoff endured all night, with some colorful incidents. Another Just Russia deputy, Anton Belyakov, arrived and told the traffic police to move the demolition vehicles lurking in a nearby street because they were blocking the traffic. Then at two a.m. the chief of the central administrative district’s department of the interior showed up saying that he was there to “prevent a massacre,” reported. At eight a.m. workers, unable to get their heavy vehicles through the picket line, started work with hand-help pneumatic drills on demolishing another building – a 19th century sausage factory, according to the activists. By early afternoon the street outside the site was swarming with reporters and television crews, and Artyom Khromov, an Arkhandzhor organizer, emerged from talks with the developers to announce a 48-hour truce.

What happens after the next 48 hours is anyone’s guess. Khromov said the two day gap would give them time to draft a concrete agreement, but Algeev, another organizer, declined to try predicting the future. “I’m not ready to second guess what the outcome will be,” he said. But the protestors may have won something: Gromov – the same deputy head of the Heritage Committee who had earlier said the buildings being destroyed were unimportant – later announced that the entire contraction project would occur “not only in the presence of archaeologists, but under their direct control.”

Either way, the headlines that the affair has been making and the willingness of the city authorities to broker a compromise, is good news, said Algeev. “This is the first big protest by citizens in defense of their heritage. More people are beginning to care about it, so now there is some hope that the situation in Moscow for historic building is going to improve. But that’s only a hope.”

[Read the whole story here. There is another account of the conflict in the Moscow Times. More photos from this past weekend’s confrontation here and here. ]

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The Assault on Gorky Park (Kharkiv, Ukraine)

In an attack sadly reminiscent of the destruction of Submariners Garden in Petersburg two years ago, the forces of “development,” disguised as common criminals dressed in black, make short work of protesters and trees in Kharkiv’s Gorky Park. (Gorky Park is part of the Kharkiv Forest. Go here and here to find out more about Europe’s largest urban park and what citizens and activists are doing to save it.)

Men in black move on Kharkiv tree defenders

Approximately 50 men dressed in black demolished an encampment of about 100 civic activists protesting plans to cut down trees in Kharkiv’s Gorky Park.

The attack took place on June 1 shortly before 4:00 a.m., according to the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, which said police watched the disorder instead of intervening.

Workmen turned on their chainsaws and followed the men in black into the encampment and cut down all the trees, the human rights group said.

Former Kharkiv Governor Arsen Avakov arrived at the camp, dubbed “Green Fort,” around 6:00 a.m. to support protesters, but by then there was nothing left to defend.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Group said on June 2 that it would provide legal assistance to all those detained or injured and is preparing a file civil suit against what it called “the unlawful actions of the city authorities.”

The group added a dozen or so arrested protesters were not being allowed to see lawyers.

Kharkiv natives said plans have been on the drawing board for years to build a road through the park to ease traffic on the city’s main thoroughfare Sumska Street, a 20-minute walk from Maidan Svobody.

Night Attack on Defenders of Gorky Park in Kharkiv


At around 4 a.m. approximately 50 men dressed in black fell upon the defenders of Gorky Park’s trees. There were 15 tents with more than 100 people.

The police were there and watched in silence, not taking any measures. They later detained around 10 people, with the detentions being arbitrary. Among the tree defenders was a Deputy of the Regional Council, Ihor Poddubny, who had a deputy badge – he was shoved, abused and showered with foul language. The workmen, together with the men in black, walked straight at people with their saws turned on. The people did not move away from the trees but were pulled away with force. The remaining trees during the following two hours were cut down.

The former Governor of the Kharkiv region and now Deputy of the Regional Council, Arsen Avakov, arrived at the “Green Fort” camp. One of those detained left with him, the police watching in silence and not interfering. Two of those detained were taken to the Dzerzhynsky District Police Station, while as of 7 a.m. the others were still in the park.

The tree defenders have taken down their tents – the last of the trees have been cut down and there is quite simply nothing more to defend.  Those who spent the night holding vigil at the Park set off for Freedom Square and the building of the Regional State Administration and Regional Council to register their protest.

The Kharkiv Human Rights Group is providing legal aid to all those detained or injured and is preparing a civil claim against the unlawful actions of the city authorities.

A widespread public campaign is needed against this lawlessness.

As of 8.20 a few dozen park defenders were sitting near the entrance to the building of the Regional State Administration and Regional Council  awaiting a meeting with Regional Council Deputy, Arsen Avakov. There were a number of police officers surrounding them, including the Head of the Kharkiv Police Oleksandr Barranyk. They asserted that this was an unauthorized gathering, unlawful and that they had every right to detain its participants. They did not do so only because Mr Avakov issued a written statement that this was a meeting with voters who would then disperse.

As of 8.20 there were unconfirmed reports that those who had been detained and taken to the Dzherzhynsky District Police Station were not being allowed to see lawyers.

All of this has happened the day after confirmation from the Ministry for Environmental Protection that the tree felling is illegal. The claims of the Acting Mayor of Kharkiv Kernes and Region’s Governor Dobkin that the road through the Park is in the General Plan of the City were also shown to be false.

More details on the illegality of the tree felling and treatment of activists by the authorities here.

Send your protest letters to:

  • The feedback page of Gennady Kernes, Mayor of Kharkiv. You will have to fill in your name and e-mail address before entering your message, typing in an anti-bot code, and hitting Отправить (“Send”). You can leave all the other fields blank.

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Greece: So Close, So Far Away

First, a prime specimen of reactionary brainwashing, on the Russian state channel’s news broadcast:

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Greece is again on strike and for the fourth time this year saying no to its government. In any case, today’s strike will not change anything. Wages in the country have been cut, taxes raised. Moreover, by socialists. And this is happening not only in Greece. R0mania, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain: leftist governments as one are doing what is not at all characteristic for them. The financial crisis has dealt a painful blow to the ideas of European socialism. The principle of “work less, make as much money as everyone else” no longer functions.

Along with the economic crisis, Europe is undergoing a crisis of the socialist idea. Several thousand students rioted in the capital of Slovenia. They threw eggs at the police and broke windows at the parliament because, in order to save money, the ruling socialists are taking away their tax breaks and deprived them of free meals.

On the streets of Bucharest, Romanian trade unions brought 60,000 people plus one sheep to protest the centrist government’s plans to slash the pensions and wages of public sector workers, including those of the police who guard the biggest state palace in the world, built by Ceauşescu. “We have ‘enormous’ salaries,” ironically notes a policeman who took part in the demonstrations. “So the government wants to cut them by a quarter. It would be better if the ministers cut their own pay because theirs is enormous. We work day and night, we work overtime, but these hours are not paid. Police from around the country are here today, and we will come back if that is what it takes,” he promised.

Cutting the budget deficit is a condition of the 20 billion euro loan provided by the IMF. And there is every indication that Romania will see a repeat of the Greek scenario, which in Athens today lead to more demonstrations and everything shutting down. “The policies that Greek society has been confronted with are barbaric,” says a participant in the demonstrations in Athens.

All this is being said to Greek’s leftist government. Headed by hereditary socialist Papandreou, it is following the orders it receives from European and international capital. In the very same way Portugal’s socialist prime minister José Sócrates refuses to turn off this path. “The country needs these measures. They are essential and necessary. When a politician does what he should do and takes measures only to alleviate a difficult situation, people should realize that all the efforts that all the people of Portugal will have to make are absolutely necessary.”

“Those who earn more should have to pay more,” declared José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero when commenting on the decision to raise the income tax for rich people. At that moment the Spanish prime minister was speaking in his capacity as leader of the Socialist Workers Party. But trade unions are threatening him with a general strike all the same because at another press conference the very same Zapatero announced that the wages of public sector workers would be cut.

Socialism, after all, is not the name of a party. It is genuine where the economic conditions exist for it. The right is in power in Sweden, but it has not ceased to be the showcase of European socialism. At the municipal level there, it is now being discussed whether to cut welfare payments to chronic alcoholics who refuse treatment.


A kind of response to this taxpayer-financed televised malarkey, here is the Vpered Socialist Movement’s preface to an essay by Olivier Besancenot and Pierre-François Grond (excerpted below):

It is surprising, but the events now under way in Greece, where hundreds of thousands of workers are demonstrating and striking in order to fight back against the harshest attack on their rights and livelihoods in recent decades, provokes only the slightest interest in Russian society. Kremlin talking heads and experts from the ranks of the liberal opposition gloat in unison as they applaud the liquidation of the last remnants of the European social state and pay their respects to courage of the Greek government, which has decided to take necessary “unpopular measures.” The silent [Russian] majority remains silent as always, assuming that the events in distant Greece have nothing to do with them. In fact, today’s Greece is closer to us than ever before. Since the beginning of this year, the Russian government’s menu practically wholly consists of “unpopular measures” prepared according to Greek recipes. Hence the [new] law that will radically cut subsidies to the public sector, and the transition to a new system of wage payments in the state sector, and the ever more persistent declarations about the need to raise the retirement age. Just as in Greece, working people in Russia are being made to foot the bill to save the banks and corporations. Like the Greeks, we turn out to be the main culprits of overblown budget deficits. We are also Greek workers in the sense that we are forced to pay for a crisis caused by the rich.

Today, as never before, we need to feel solidarity — not because it is a noble and beautiful feeling, but simply because we live in one world. A world that is strikingly insane, cruel, and unjust. A world where only the poor suffer. A world that so needs our will to resistance and protest.


An excerpt from Olivier Besancenot and Pierre-François Grond, “We are all Greek workers”:

The Greek measures overwhelmingly approved by EU governments are an attack on social rights. According to the rules of globalised capitalism applied by these governments, Europe is losing ground in its global competition with the United States and emerging countries. Their solution is to regain competitiveness by attacking the standard of living and social protection won in Europe through decades of mobilisation by the workers’ movement.

This means a never-ending race to the bottom. And to think that they promoted the Maastricht Treaty, the EU Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty as the building blocks of a Europe based on social justice and social welfare! What utter nonsense, when we compare this rhetoric to the bleeding imposed on the Greeks – at 5% interest, no less! The European banks can continue to grow rich on the Greek austerity plan, although they are the ones most responsible for the global economic chaos. There is nothing humanitarian about the “assistance plan” that has been adopted by the National Assembly. By supporting the government, the French Socialist Party has lined up on the side of finance and not the oppressed.

Though incapable of organising solidarity of any kind, the European Union certainly knows how to profit from a people’s misery. Sarkozy and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have jointly declared that they will rescue the Eurozone by strengthening “budgetary oversight” of states that fail to meet the criteria of the EU Stability Pact. Apparently, in a neoliberal Europe, governments are only allowed to contravene the Stability Pact when they are pumping public money into the banks. Humanity will just have to wait.

Yet, never has there been such an urgent need for a social, ecological and anti-capitalist Europe based on solidarity. None of the current problems can be solved within national borders. We are all Greek workers subject to the same logic. Government debt is the product of 25 years of neoliberalism and tax cuts for the rich – on corporate incomes, capital and shareholder dividends. For 25 years these taxes have been constantly lowered, and yet we are still told that they represent an unbearable burden for employers and the well heeled. No, this crisis is not ours. In Greece, as elsewhere in Europe, we shouldn’t have to pay for it.


Chris Hedges, “The Greeks Get It”:

Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

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Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht)

Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar
Friday 2 July, 10:00 – Sunday 4 July, 10:00
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands

The Jan van Eyck Academie is hosting Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar. The Communal Life Seminar is an initiative of the Chto Delat collective and the Vpered Socialist Movement (Russia) as a response to the acute need to establish alternate forms of collectivity. The fundamental principle of this seminar is that its participants constitute a temporary community for the duration of the event. By combining research, creative work and daily living, they are transformed into a commune.

Living Politically will focus on the problem of how to combine theory and art with the militant political life. The Russian philosophers, artists and scholars organising this initiative have invited people from various branches of creative knowledge production, such as design, art, poetry and philosophy, to participate in the seminar.

During the seminar, participants will attempt to answer three questions: How are the practices of various disciplines and their professional production methods conditioned by the political stances and activist practices of artists and researchers? How do the collective appropriation and generalisation of specific scholarly, artistic and activist work shape new models of politicisation? Seminar participants will focus on what ‘living politically’ means for them. Which political categories do they invoke to make sense not only of their own work in research and art institutions, but also of their daily lives? Thus, one theme of the seminar will be the commonalities and differences between contemporary European and Russian types of political subjectivation. The programme includes lectures, performances, discussions and screenings.

Friday 2 July

Nikolay Oleynikov (Moscow)
Why obshezhitie?
— lecture introducing the context of “political/creative living” in Russia over the past decade

Pietro Bianchi (JVE)
The dark side of the communal
— presentation + discussion

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya)
Witness cabinet

franck leibovici (paris)
some musical techniques of political composition
— theoretical performance, collective performance: one would draw a strong link between processes of production of knowledge, systems of (musical, choreographic, scientific) notation and the nature of collectives which perform them. following john cage’s line, one would say that a score should be like the ideal representation of a society in which one would like to live. we will exercise during 48h.

Kirill Medvedev (Moscow)
Poetry as politics
— examples of political, civic and feminist poetry to show how radical work in poetry shapes the revolutionary political challenge

Elena Sorokina (Brussels)
Communism’s afterlife in contemporary art

Filipa Ramos & Andrea Lissoni (Milan/London)
Political action does not produce objects – Parades and the (re)contextualization of the individual subject
— how to insert in the question of Living-Politically a reflection on parades and their possibility to act, inter-act and trigger some new practices between single and collectivity; while trying at the same time to analyse the operations of recontextualization associated with the use of this practice in the context of visual art.

Dmitry Vilensky (St. Petersburg)
Making film politically
— the possibilities for collective work during the shooting and editing of films as well as familiarising participants with the historical background of this approach and the ways it is practically realised today

Alexei Penzin (Moscow)
Sleeping politically
— a nighttime lecture on sleep and the sleeping body as a limit of the rationalization of life in the context of late capitalism, on the relationship between sleep, wakefulness and power, as well as on awakening and political subjectivisation. He will also discuss some early Soviet utopian projects concerning sleep.

Chto Delat & Pietro Bianchi
— night screenings

Saturday 3 July

Elena Sorokina & franck leibovici
performing a document: aerobics reconception (featuring Elena Sorokina)
— In order to answer the question “what does performing a document mean?” we will do some gymnastics in the small hours.

Tzuchien Tho (JVE)
Math politics

Aaron Schuster (Brussels)
Politics of nature: Marxism and psychoanalysis, labour and sex

Oxana Timofeeva (JVE)
Political animal

franck leibovici
mini-opera for non-musicians
— collective performance – concert

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya, Amsterdam/ St. Petersburg) with Andros Zins-Browne (JVE)
— ballet-dance performance + discussion on relations: We would like to organise a kind of “witness cabinet”: each participant can have a private conversation with us about their problems in personal relations. After summarising all the models in our laboratory, we will find the problem which is common to everybody and based on this knowledge we’ll create a performance piece.

Katja Diefenbach (JVE)
Less than a thing: queer politics and the deconstruction of the fetish

Katja Diefenbach
— night screenings

Madeleine Bisscheroux
Anne Vangronsveld
Public Programme and Events Coordinators
t +31 (0)43 350 37 29
f +31 (0)43 350 37 99

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