Daily Archives: August 31, 2010

Call for International Days of Action in Support of Gaskarov and Solopov

A Call for International Days of Action in Support of Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov

September 17—20, 2010

On July 28, 2010, more than two hundred young antifascists and anarchists carried out a spontaneous demonstration outside the town administration building in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow. They demonstrated in defense of the Khimki Forest, which was at that time in the process of beings cutting down for the needs of big business. The demonstration, during which several windows were broken, received a great deal of public attention. The authorities responded with a wave of repressions. The day after the demonstration, two well-known social activists, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, were arrested. They are now threatened with up to seven years in prison for disorderly conduct, although there is no evidence of their complicity in illegal activities. Meanwhile, the police continue to hunt down and harass other activists, especially those involved in the antifascist movement.

The campaign to save the Khimki Forest has been going on for the past three years. The authorities had decided to build a segment of a planned Moscow—Saint Petersburg toll highway, the first of its kind in Russia, through the forest. This would lead to the deterioration of environmental conditions in the region, and local residents and Muscovites would be deprived of yet another recreation zone. Despite the availability of alternative routes that would not require clear-cutting the forest and vigorous protests by environmentalists and ordinary citizens against the planned route, the authorities f0r a long time ignored the voice of society and on several occasions took measures to suppress their critics.

Khimki authorities and the highway project contractor have used violence and other tactics against Khimki Forest defenders. They refused to give permission for protest demonstrations, recruited nationalist thugs to break up a peaceful protest camp organized by environmentalists and local residents, and illegally arrested and beat up journalists covering the story. Nearly two years ago, Mikhail Beketov, editor-in-chief of the newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda and a critic of the local administration, was severely beaten by persons unknown; the attack left Beketov permanently disabled. Sergei Protozanov, the layout designer of another local opposition paper, was murdered in similar circumstances six months later.

After the July 28 demonstration, the Russian police and secret services unleashed an unprecedented dragnet against antifascists. People who had even just once come to the attention of the Center for Extremism Prevention and FSB for their involvement with the antifascist movement have been forcibly taken in for questioning. In several cases they  have been subjected to harsh physical coercion in order to compel them to give the testimony required by investigators. In addition, illegal searches have been carried out in their apartments. All these actions on the part of law enforcement authorities are violations of Russian and international law.

Frightened by the numerous and growing protests against the clear-cutting of the Khimki Forest, the authorities have finally made concessions by agreeing to review the advisability of the planned route for the toll highway. But this does not mean victory. Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov are still in police custody for no reason at all. They are hostages of the authorities.

In late September, the next hearing in their case will take place. The judge will decide whether to keep them in police custody pending completion of the investigation and trial. Everyone who cares about the fate of these two young men must do everything in their power to see that they are set free. The Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages calls on people around the world to organize days of action on September 17, 18, 19, and 20 to pressure the Russian authorities to release Alexei and Maxim.

We ask you to hold protests outside of Russian Federation embassies, consulates, trade missions, and cultural centers, as well as at public events and concerts connected to Russia. We also ask you to send faxes, e-mails, and protest letters to the court, the prosecutor’s office, and the country’s political leadership. In the very near future we will inform you of addresses where you can send these protests as well as more details about the ongoing repressions in Russia. Look for this information on our website http://khimkibattle.org in English, German, Russian, and French.

Join our campaign!

Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages

+7 (915) 053-5912 • info@khimkibattle.org •  http://khimkibattle.org

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Filed under activism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, racism, nationalism, fascism, Russian society

Chto Delat: The Urgent Need to Struggle (ICA, London)

ICA London
Chto delat? (What is to be done?)
The Urgent Need to Struggle
9-12, 15-19, 22-26, 29 September
3, 6-10, 13-17, 20-24 October 2010

Institute of Contemporary Arts
The Mall
London SW1Y 5AH
United Kingdom

www.ica.org.uk/chtodelat

This autumn, the ICA presents the first major project in the UK by Russian collective Chto delat? (What is to be done?). Formed in 2003 and made up of artists, critics, philosophers and writers, the collective sees its diverse activities as a merging of political theory, art and activism. The group’s ideas are rooted in its members’ active participation in, and research into, current social and political situations in Russia, as well as principles of self-organisation and collective doings. Their work uses a variety of means to advance a leftist position on economic, social and cultural agendas; they publish a regular newspaper, produce artwork in the form of videos, installations, public actions, and radio programmes, and contribute regularly to conferences and publications.

For the ICA Chto delat? has formulated a wide ranging project that extends its identity as ‘a self-organising platform for cultural workers’, presenting artwork and ideas produced by multiple individual and collaborative practices, as well as a new issue of the Chto delat? newspaper. For the exhibition, the group aims to create a didactic installation that reclaims the educational value of art focused on basic activities, such as watching, reading, listening and discussing.

The ICA gallery is structured around a series of display modules which are actualizations of Russian Constructivist Alexander Rodchenko’s designs for the interior of a workers’ club. A three-tiered cinema space serves as a viewing area for Tower Songspiel (2010), the most recent work in a trilogy of narrative films that sit at the centre of the collective’s visual practice; these ‘songspiels’ take on a mode of musical theatre developed by playwright Bertolt Brecht and composer Kurt Weill in the early twentieth century, presenting political and social concerns through the accessible and often humorous form of song. The symbolism withinTower Songspiel is echoed in an installation along the ICA’s concourse, enlarged red veins conjuring up notions of power and pervasive control.

Leading the visitor through the gallery space is a unique audio guide devised by Chto delat? for the exhibition. The guide is a wry response to the conventions inherent in the institutional presentation of contemporary art. On display in the Reading Room is a program of video works produced by artists from Chto delat? in collaboration with other individuals and groups. These pieces articulate various manifestations of collective artistic and educational practice. For a full list of participants visit www.ica.org.uk/chtodelat.

Chto delat? (founded in 2003 in St Petersburg, Russia) has exhibited and presented its work in many recent projects including The Idea of Communism, Volksbühne, Berlin (2010); The Beauty of Distance, 17th Sydney Biennale (2010); The Potosí Principle, Museum Reina Sofia, Madrid (2010); Morality, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2010); A History of Irritated Material, Raven Row, London (2010); Plug In, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven (2009); Istanbul Biennial (2009); 4th Biennial of Moving Image, Contour Mechelen, Belgium (2009).

The ICA project is realised by: Tsaplya (Olga Egorova); Nikolay Oleynikov, Gluklya (Natalya Pershina-Yakimanskaya), Nina Gasteva, Vladan Jeremić/Rena Rädle and Dmitry Vilensky.

Events

Expanding on this gallery presentation, Chto delat?’s collective working practice becomes a platform for a number of events occurring throughout September and October, including a 48-hour ‘communal living’ seminar occurring across the theatre and galleries and leading to the public staging of a participatory Learning Play, an open-microphone ‘Night of Angry Statements’, and a weekly screening event addressing political filmmaking. For further information regarding these events visit www.ica.org.uk/chtodelat.

Publication

Chto delat? (What is to be done?) The Urgent Need to Struggle will be accompanied by ROLAND, the magazine of the ICA’s programme.

Press information

For press information please contact Jennifer Byrne
(E: jenniferb@ica.org.uk / T: +44 20 7766 1407).

The Institute of Contemporary Arts is a registered charity in England, No: 263848

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Putin: Beat Them with Truncheons

The St. Petersburg Times
Issue #1605 (66), Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Putin Gives Warning to Demonstrators
By Sergey Chernov, Staff Writer

While a criminal case about the police excesses during the July 31 demo in defense of the right to assembly was opened in St. Petersburg last week, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made news Monday by speaking approvingly of police beatings in an interview with Kommersant.

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Noize MC, “10 Days (Stalingrad)”: An audiovisual tribute to Putin’s police state

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“You have to get a permit from the local authorities,” Putin was quoted as saying.

“You got it? Then go and rally. If not, you don’t have the right. If you go out without having the right, you’ll get a bash on the head with a truncheon.”

Putin also said that demonstrators consciously provoke the police into administering beatings and pour red paint over themselves to imitate blood.

Putin’s words were published a day before rallies due in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities across Russia on Tuesday, as part of the Strategy 31 campaign in defense of the right of assembly guaranteed by Article 31 of the Russian constitution. The events are held on the 31st day of months that have 31 days.

The authorities in Moscow and St. Petersburg have not authorized the campaign’s events since it began on July 31, 2009, in Moscow. Opposition politicians took Putin’s words as a threat.

Author and oppositional politician Eduard Limonov, one of the leaders of Strategy 31, reacted by describing Putin as a “man of violence.”

“The chair of the Russian government V.V. Putin’s interview is outrageous in its tone and insulting to the citizens of Russia,” Limonov wrote in his blog on Monday.

“It contains elements of intimidation with the threat of violence […]. Incitement of law enforcement agencies to violence is evident. Thus, the phrase ‘get a bash on the head with a truncheon’ is repeated three times.”

Despite the interview, the Aug. 31 events will go ahead as planned, organizers said Monday. Moscow demonstrators will assemble on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad, while St. Petersburg protesters will assemble by the Gostiny Dvor metro station on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main street, on Tuesday. The events start at 6 p.m.

Aug. 31 events are also scheduled in around 40 Russian cities. Demos in support of Strategy 31 are also due to take place near Russian embassies and Russian government representative offices in London, New York, Tel Aviv, Prague and Helsinki.

“For us, nothing has changed, as a matter of fact; we’ll go to Gostiny Dvor, as always,” said Andrei Dmitriyev, a local Strategy 31 leader, on Monday.

“It’s a mixture of Putin’s typical yobbishness — posing as a tough guy — and sheer bluff, because if one analyzes in detail what he said, it has nothing to do with Russian law and common sense,” he said.

“He either doesn’t know Russian laws or simply couldn’t care less about them.”

In Dmitriyev’s view, the law on public events says nothing about getting permits from the local authorities, instead requiring merely that the authorities be informed of planned events.

“Our authorities have chosen several ‘ghettoes,’ where they send the opposition to rally,” said Dmitriyev, adding that earlier this month City Hall offered the organizers the chance to hold the rally in the remote 50th Anniversary of the October Revolution Park on the city’s northeastern outskirts, but refused to authorize the rally near Gostiny Dvor.

“This practice of sending the demonstrators to ‘ghettoes’ is also illegal in its essence,” he said.

The St. Petersburg authorities have refused to authorize Strategy 31 rallies on the grounds that the site was close to a metro and thus the subject of “special security regulations” starting from the first local event on Jan. 31, but failed to produce these regulations to the organizers.

The most recent Strategy 31 rally, which was held on July 31, was thwarted with particular brutality, with several people being badly beaten. The St. Petersburg Department of Internal Affairs (GUVD) started an investigation on the police’s actions during the demo, which is due to be finished on Sept. 2, according to a GUVD spokesman.

A criminal case was opened by the Investigative Committee of the Russian prosecutor’s office last week. According to its statement, the investigation has established that a police officer hit an “unidentified” man on the head with a rubber truncheon at least once “without having sufficient grounds.”

http://sptimes.ru/index.php?action_id=2&story_id=32328

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