Kaluga authorities continue to take revenge on leftist activists who helped organize a strike at the Benteler Automotive plant. Today, May 22, Andrei Bitkov, a member of the Russian Socialist Movement (RSD), was seized on the street by men in plain clothes and forcibly taken to the assembly point of the local military enlistment center, after which contact with him was lost.
The Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA/MPRA) believes that such actions, which blatantly violate the laws of the Russian Federation, are linked to the successful strike carried out by the ITUA at the Benteler Automotive plant in March–April 2012, a strike Bitkov helped organize.
Despite the fact that Bitkov is not eligible for the draft due to health reasons and was planning to appeal the actions of the draft board in court in a hearing scheduled for May 29, the “competent” authorities have not given up their attempts to send the leftist activist to the army. Thus, on May 17, Center for Extremism Prevention (Center “E”) officers descended on the Kaluga offices of the ITUA, where both trade union and RSD members were located at the time. They tried to illegally detain Bitkov, but the workers present prevented them from doing this. A month earlier, immediately after the strike at Benteler Automotive, Center “E” officers had served Bitkov with a summons to the draft board.
Earlier, on April 18, another RSD activist, Daniil Pyatov, was kidnapped by officers of the security services directly at the university where he is a student. They attempted to threaten him into cooperating with them.
The ITUA and RSD regards these events as forms of political and anti-trade union repression provoked by the growth of worker self-organization in the Kaluga automotive production cluster.
Currently, Andrei Bitkov is presumably located at the draft board assembly point at ul. Michurina, 38a, in Kaluga; tel.: +7 (4842) 54-29-06. His comrades urge all concerned citizens to call this number and demand his immediate release.
For more information, contact Dmitry Kozhnev, ITUA Kaluga coordinator, at +7 (903) 800-3696.