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Stop the Crackdown against Russian Anti-Fascists! (open letter)

Original in Russian published here:

The crackdown against anti-fascists in Russia has recently gained momentum. The country’s repressive law enforcement authorities view involvement in the anti-fascist movement as a crime in itself.

Moscow anti-fascists Alexey Sutuga, Alexey Olesinov, Igor Kharchenko and Irina Lipskaya are currently in jail in connection with dubious and unproven accusations of “disorderly conduct.” Anti-fascists Alexandra Dukhanina, Stepan Zimin, Alexey Polikhovich and Vladimir Akimenkov are among those accused of involvement in “mass riots” on Bolotnaya Square on May 6 in Moscow, when riot police brutally dispersed an authorized opposition rally. Clear evidence of their guilt still has not been presented.

In Nizhny Novgorod, law enforcement authorities are attempting to have anti-fascists declared an “extremist group.” Although on October 18 a court sent the case against the fictional organization “Antifa-RASH” (whose alleged IDs “anti-extremist” police detectives planted on activists during a search) back to the police for further investigation, the Nizhny Novgorod political police are unlikely to leave the activists alone. Igor Kharchenko has also been charged under this same article of the Russian criminal code (“involvement in the the activities of an extremist group”). Alexey Olesinov and Alexey Sutuga’s defense attorneys also expect that authorities will attempt to have their clients declared “extremists.”

The attorneys and comrades of the arrested activists believe this is being done to make it easier for police to prosecute anti-fascists and social activists. If guilty verdicts are returned in the Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod cases, a wave of similar “extremist” cases will follow all over Russia. Anti-fascists are today officially stigmatized as “extremists.” What is next? A court ban on anti-fascist views?

We consider it unacceptable that an individual can be persecuted simply for political views and activities dedicated to the fight against racism. We demand a fair and partial investigation in these criminal cases, and prosecution of all law enforcement officers who abuse their authority and flagrantly fabricate criminal cases against civil society activists.

Svetlana Reiter, journalist
Pavel Chikov, civil rights activist
Andrei Loshak, journalist
Oleg Kashin, journalist
Artyom Loskutov, artist
Pavel Pryanikov, gardener, journalist
Shura Burtin, journalist
Arkady Babchenko, war correspondent
Igor Gulin, poet, literary critic
Maria Kiselyova, artist
Ilya Budraitskis, leftist activist
Alexander Chernykh, journalist
Victoria Lomasko, artist
Anna Sarang, sociologist
Tatyana Sushenkova, photographer, artist
Jenny Curpen, journalist, political exile
Sergei Devyatkin, journalist, political exile
Mikhail Maglov, civic activist
Pavel Nikulin, journalist
Alexei Yorsh, artist,
Maria Klimova, journalist
Nikolay Oleynikov, artist
Alexander Tushkin, journalist
Daniil Dugum, journalist, anarchist
Andrei Krasnyi, artist
Dmitry Grin, artist
Alexander Litinsky, journalist
Isabelle Makgoeva, leftist activist
Yuliana Lizer, journalist, documentary filmmaker
Dmitry Vilensky, artist
Ilya Shepelin, artist
Tasya Krugovykh, photographer, filmmaker
Vyacheslav Danilov, political scientist
Tatyana Volkova, art critic
Yegor Skovoroda, journalist
Georgy Rafailov, leftist activist
Dmitry Tkachov, editor, journalist
Alexander Delfinov (Smirnov), poet, journalist
Nadezhda Prusenkova, journalist
Anton Nikolaev, artist
Yulia Bashinova, journalist
Denis Mustafin, artist
Matvei Krylov, artist
Olesya Gerasimenko, journalist
Grigory Tumanov, journalist


Articles (in Russian) on the cases mentioned above:

“Antifa-RASH” case
«Лента.ру»: Экстремисты из Нижнего
Открытое информагентство: Свидетель обвинения дал показания против оперативников Центра «Э»
«РБК daily»: В Поволжье судят «придуманных» экстремистов
«Автономное действие»: Нижегородское дело

The case against Alexey Olesinov and Alexey Sutuga
«Новая газета»: Когда я спросила, почему Алексею не разрешили позвонить, следователь промолчал
«Новая газета»: В Москве продлили срок ареста двум антифашистам

The case against Igor Kharchenko and Denis Solopov
«Известия»: Антифашиста хотят вернуть в Россию новым уголовным делом
«Газета.ру»: Четыре статьи за ненависть к националистам
«Новая газета»: Игорю Харченко снова продлен срок содержания под стражей

The case against Irina Lipskaya
«Каспаров.ру»: Задержанные антифашисты проведут 2 месяца в СИЗО
«Автономное действие»: Дело об инциденте у клуба «Баррикада»: двое антифашистов заключены под стражу

The case against the screening of the “extremist” film “Russian Anti-Racist Skinheads” in Vladimir
Openspace: Кино на букву «Э»
Открытое информагентство: Эксперты нашли в фильме москвича призывы к действиям против скинхедов и пропаганду их неполноценности

On attempts to have the entire Russian anti-fascist movement declared “extremist”
«РБК daily»: МВД «повысит» статус антифашистов с хулиганов до экстремистов
«Большой город»: Социальная группа «гопники»
«Эхо Москвы»: Фанаты-единороссы, «удостоверение анархиста» и другие способы посадить антифашиста
«Новая газета»: Антифашистов пытаются объявить вне закона


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Activist Club: Re-Constructions (Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven)


Film programme in the Activist Club



Location: Van Abbemuseum: Room B2.06

On Thursday 3 December at 19.00 a film programme will be screened in the Activist Club (2007(2009)) by Chto Delat, from B2.06 on the second floor of the Nieuwbouw (New building).

This night is the start of a programme of videos and lectures with presentations by both local and international artists and activists. This programme is composed by the guest curator Galit Eilat, director of the Israeli Center for Digital Art, in close collaboration with the artists of Chto Delat.

New videos and/or lectures can be seen every month. The next film programme will be on Thursday night 17 December, the theme for this night will be announced in due time.

The Activist Club has room for about 25 people, so please reserve your seat timely. Continue reading

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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?


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


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.


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.


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


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:

Telephone: +7 (812) 313-93-41, +7 964 390 85 43. E-mail:,


Don't Let This Man into Your LGBT Film Festival

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Petersburg TV: Homosexuality Is An “Abomination”

TV’s ‘Bridge of Freedom’ Describes Gays as ‘Abomination’
By Sergey Chernov
St. Petersburg Times
July 14, 2009

A chief editor at a local television channel called homosexuality an “abomination” in a caustic reply to an open letter written by an insulted viewer. The viewer, St. Petersburg resident Maria Yefremenkova, had earlier held a one-woman protest against what she described as a “homophobic” broadcast that “discriminated” against sexual minorities.

Valery Tatarov, the editor of 100TV’s public affairs talk show “Bridge of Freedom,” refused to apologize for the broadcast, as requested by Yefremenkova. Instead, he informed her, in an e-mail dated July 1, that he would not apologize unless a court ordered him to do so.

In closing, Tatarov expressed “the deepest disrespect for homosexuality and other abominations” and wished Yefremenkova “the best of luck in studying the law as well as civil rights and liberties.”

The program that sparked Yefremenkova’s campaign was broadcast on 100TV on May 22. [It can be viewed in full here.] The topic debated by the show’s in-studio guests was “Is homosexualism [sic] a crime against childhood?”

The Hip Priest: Kurayev

The Hip Priest: Kurayev

The phrasing of the topic was inspired by a statement made by the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox priest Andrei Kurayev, one of the church’s most visible public figures. When asked about a planned gay pride event in Moscow in May, Kurayev slammed what he called the “propaganda of homosexuality.”

During the course of the fifty-three minute program, anti-gay guests and interviewees argued several times that the aim of gay rights protests was to recruit minors into the homosexual community by making homosexuality “fashionable.” “Is homosexuality a fashion or a psychiatric disease?” one of the presenters asked a guest.

The terms gomoseksualism and gomoseksualist, seen as inappropriate by gays because they suggest that homosexuality is a disease or a form of deviancy, were used consistently throughout the entire program.

Yefremenkova found remarks made by journalists and guests, as well as pre-recorded video sequences aired during the program, insulting to sexual minorities.

“As a member of Russian society, I am deeply outraged by this instance of discrimination against sexual minorities. It’s intolerable,” Yefremenkova said by phone last week.

In a letter she wrote to 100TV’s general director and editor, Andrei Radin, after she received Tatarov’s response last week, Yefremenkova alleged that the “hosts and creators of this program violated the rights, honor and dignity of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community.”

She also wrote that the presenters “spread rumors disguised as reliable facts; [they] presented information on homosexuality in such a way as to demean this category of citizens, ignite intolerance and contribute to the rise of hatred in society.”

Yefremenkova accused the show’s hosts of “fabricating facts” and allowing the program’s guests — Igor Knyazkin (introduced as a doctor of medicine), political analyst Alexander Konfisakhor of St. Petersburg State University, and historian Yury Sokolov — to threaten and insult sexual minorities.

“Don’t write on your t-shirt that you’re a faggot, and nobody will touch you,” said Knyazkin, who also described homosexuality as a “social disease.” Konfisakhor seconded him: “In my youth, you would get punched in the face for [openly expressing homosexuality] — long, hard, and so that it hurt.”

In response to a post on the channel’s web forum that read “Gay culture is being exported from abroad. The goal is the destruction of Russia,” Sokolov said, “Strange as it may seem, this might be true.” ”That’s right,” an off-screen voice was heard to say in reply.

Moreover, guests repeatedly compared homosexuality to bestiality, necrophilia and pedophilia.

Although there were two speakers on behalf of sexual minorities in the studio, the show’s general tone was hostile. When Valery Sozayev, an activist with the LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out) asked his opponents and the presenters to imagine how they would react “if [their own] children turn[ed] out to be gay,” presenter Svetlana Malinina sarcastically retorted, “God forbid!”

Journalist Andrei Klyushev concluded the broadcast by remarking that a person should not speak publicly about his or her sexual orientation.

“In the U.S. army […] they have arrived at a very simple slogan — ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ That is, sexual orientation is everyone’s personal affair, but you shouldn’t speak about it publicly. I think that is a rather healthy idea,” Klyushev said.

What Klyushev did not mention, however, was that the Pentagon’s controversial ban did not extend to civilians, and that several recent surveys have shown that the vast majority of Americans are against the ban.

Last year, during his presidential campaign, Barack Obama pledged to work with military leaders and Congress on repealing the law that bans openly gay men and women from serving in the military.

At the end of the broadcast, the results of a viewer call-in poll were shown on screen. Those who agreed that “homosexualism” was a “crime against childhood” outnumbered those who disagreed by an overwhelming margin — 7,263 to 1,298, or 85 versus 15 percent.

On Monday, the program’s web site showed that a video of the controversial broadcast had been viewed over 13,000 times since the May 22 airing. Other recent broadcasts in the series, which airs three times a week, have garnered just over a thousand online re-viewings at most.

Maria Yefremenkova

Maria Yefremenkova

Yefremenkova wrote that the facts she cited in her letter constitute “evidence of discrimination against sexual minorities by employees of 100TV” and were thus violations of Russian and international law.

On June 6, Yefremenkova held a picket near 100TV’s studios, near Petrogradskaya Naberezhnaya. She held up a placard that read, “Against discrimination toward sexual minorities in the media. 100TV is a homophobic channel.” She also distributed leaflets in which she demanded that the channel apologize to the LGBT community.

Under the Soviet legal code, male homosexual acts were criminal offenses, punishable by terms of five to eight years in prison. This law was abolished in 1993, two years after the Soviet Union collapsed, during the administration of President Boris Yeltsin. During Soviet times, the subject of homosexuality was strictly banned from print and broadcast media.

Speaking by phone this week, LGBT rights activist Sozayev talked about what he called the “lack of professionalism” of 100TV’s journalists.

“In a debate, the hosts should not take sides, whatever their personal views are, but these hosts demonstrated their homophobia in a very obvious way,” he said.

“Many thoughtful people I spoke to, people who are able to think for themselves, said the program had the opposite effect on them,” Sozayev added.

“If the editor wanted to use this program to incite homophobia, he failed. As one woman wrote in her blog, ‘For the longest time I couldn’t explain to my husband why LGBT rights have to be protected. After watching this program he understood why.”

Radin, who heads 100TV, said he had not received the letter when called on Monday and declined to comment.


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End the Terror Against Social Activists in Russia!

End the Terror Against Social Activists in Russia!

Public Statement on the Attacks against Social Activists

Recently, criminal attacks against the leaders of trade union and social movements have clearly increased. Among the latest such incidents, we should note the attacks against Carine Clément, a member of the working group and a leader of the Union of Coordinating Councils; Alexei Etmanov, leader of the labor union at Ford-Vsevolozhsk; Mikhail Beketov, leader of the movement to defend the Khimki Forest; and Sergei Fedotov, leader of the deceived land shareholders of the Moscow Region. In addition, a great many activists fighting the infill construction that is happening in all our cities have been attacked. There have been murders, in particular, of antifascist activists.

This is not a random phenomenon, but a clear trend: active citizens who try to restore justice and defend their legal rights are more and more often subjected to brute force. With no other arguments at its disposal, the opposite resorts to criminal methods. While it is clear that in each situation it is a different group of people who commissions these crimes, the overall tendency demonstrates that excellent conditions for the further escalation of this brutal method of “social dialogue” have been created in Russia today. These conditions include lawlessness, the lack of criminal liability for violations of the law by state officials or members of the ruling elite, universal corruption, and the hypercentralization of authority in the absence of any form of control from below. Many cases of “political” attacks on activists have still not been investigated, and the guilty parties not be found, which gives the assailants a sense of impunity and thus provokes further crimes.

We say, Enough! Continue reading


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Leader of Deceived Land Shareholders Assaulted in Moscow Region

The Leader of the Movement of Deceived Land Shareholders of the Moscow Region Is Assaulted

The violence against social activists is escalating. We have learned that yesterday, November 13, at 6:45 p.m., Sergei Fedotov, the leader of the movement of deceived land shareholders of the Moscow Region, was attacked.

The incident took place in the village of Mikhalevo (Moscow Oblast), near Fedotov’s workplace. Fedotov was getting into his car when two young men armed with a baseball bats and a spray can ran up to him. One of them managed to spray tear gas into Fedotov’s face before Sergei could close the door and drive away. His glasses saved him.

The movement of deceived land shareholders of the Moscow Region, which represents twenty-eight settlements in Moscow Oblast, has for the last five or six years fought for the restitution of land shares stolen by raiders. The movement’s last well-publicized action was a picket in downtown Moscow on September 5, during which Sergei Fedotov was detained by police.

This was the third in a series of vicious assaults on social activists yesterday. As we have already reported, Mikhail Beketov, an opposition journalist from the city of Khimki, is now in the intensive care ward. On the morning of November 13, he was found unconscious in the courtyard of his home in the village of Starbeevo (Khimki District).

That same day, Carine Clément, director of the Institute of Collective Action, was attacked in Moscow by two young men who used a syringe to inject her with an unidentified substance.

For more information, call: +7-906-099-31-77 (Sergei Fedotov)

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The Anti-Activist Terror Continues: Another Attack on Alexei Etmanov

Another Assault on Alexei Etmanov

Last night (November 13) another assault was made on Alexei Etmanov, the leader of the trade union at the Ford-Vsevolozhsk plant outside of Petersburg. An unidentified man was waiting for Etmanov with a metal club in the entryway of his building. Alexei and his wife miraculously escaped harm.

Alexei Etmanov is known for his work as the leader and chair of the of the union at the Ford plant in Vsevolozhsk, Leningrad Oblast, which has won fame for its successful strikes. Etmanov is also the co-chair of the Russian Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA), which represents workers at auto plants and related production facilities in Moscow, Kaluga, Taganrog, Yaroslavl, Leningrad Oblast, and other regions.

Alexei is an active member of the Petersburg-based Committee for Solidarity Actions (KSD), which unites trade union and leftist political activists and is the organizer of the support campaign for the workers union at the TaGAZ plant, which is affiliated with the ITUA. The attacks on Etmanov could be linked to his work on this campaign. The ITUA has demanded recognition of the trade union at TaGAZ, the reinstatement of union committee chair Sergei Pinchukov and other members of the organization who were illegally dismissed, and the investigation of the three attacks, this past summer, on activists Alexei Gramm and Sergei Bryzgalov, who were likewise ambushed by persons unknown after they got off work.

We should remind our readers that this was not the first attack on Etmanov: on the night of November 8, three unidentified men attacked him as he made his way from a parking lot to his home. Although the bandits were armed with brass knuckles, during the struggle Alexei managed to pull out his stun pistol: the shot he fired frightened his attackers, and they ran away. The following day, Etmanov’s deputy chair, Vladimir Lesik, received an anonymous phone call. “You got a mild scolding. If you keep making trouble for us, you’ll pay with your life,” said the caller. We have just learned that other members of the KSD got similar calls.

The unions will press for a swift and complete investigation of these incidents.

Continue reading


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The War on Russian Activists Continues: Mikhail Beketov Beaten Half to Death

Khimki Oppositionist Severely Beaten and Near Death 


 Prominent Khimki oppositionist and a defender of the Khimki Forest is near death. [Mikhail] Beketov, the editor-in-chief of Khimkinskaya Pravda, and a harsh critic of the local authorities, was found beaten half to death in the courtyard of his home (in the village of Starbeevo, Khimki District) on the morning of November 13. He was discovered by a neighbor lady, who immediately summoned paramedics. Drenched in blood and unconscious, the journalist was transported to the surgical department of the Khimki municipal hospital, where he is right now, hovering between life and death. Mikhail suffered severe head trauma and multiple fractures and injuries. According to doctors, these injuries are life-threatening. According to them, the least movement threatens Beketov with instant death.

Mikhail Beketov is primarily known for his articles critical of the Khimki municipal administration. It was Beketov who, in April 2007, drew the public’s attention to the desecration of the war pilots’ grave next to Leningrad Highway.

He has likewise covered in his newspaper the fight for Khimki Forest, which has been going on now for two years.

In May of last year persons unknown blew up his car, while in February of this year he was charged with criminal libel. At the beginning of November, Beketov distributed the new issue of his newspaper, in which he criticized the Khimki administration and reported on the situation with the Khimki Forest, which is scheduled to be cut down. In conversations with friends, Beketov on many occasions confirmed that he had been “threatened by bandits.”

Movement for the Defense of Khimki Forest:+7 495 645 99 02; +7 917 564 86 45; +7 905 784 04 54, 500 82 36



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Chto Delat Weekly Reader No. 7: The All-Obama Issue

obama_victory_unicorn1This past week the whole world has been buzzing, celebrating, and puzzling over the election of Barack Obama to the US presidency. Will his presidency usher in a new era of peace, friendship, and social justice the world over? Or his advent just new window dressing on a bad game that is getting worse? This week’s reader is devoted to skeptical voices on the left who wonder whether we all haven’t been sold a bill of goods. Featuring: Simon Critchley, Judith Butler, Louis Proyect, Alexander Cockburn, Ralph Nader, Unión del Barrio, Richard Seymour, Howard Zinn, Mike Davis, and Tariq Ali. Continue reading

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Knuckledusters as an Instrument of “Social Dialogue”: More on the Attack on Russian Union Leader Alexei Etmanov

Knuckledusters as an Instrument of “Social Dialogue” in Contemporary Russia

Who Is Bothered by Alexei Etmanov? 

111Reprisals against union leaders have, unfortunately, ceased to be merely a part of the ancient history of the trade union movement. They have more and more often become a reality of labor relations in today’s Russia.

On the night of November 8, when Alexei Etmanov, chair of the union committee at Ford-Vsevolozhsk and co-chair of the Russian Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA), returned home after his shift, he was attacked by three armed bandits. It is clear that the people who sent them wanted to ensure numerical superiority. Here, however, their calculations ran afoul: Alexei managed to force his attackers, who were armed with knuckledusters, to retreat in shame.

However, in order to dispel any doubts as to the motives for the attack, the “organizers” of this piece of brigandage telephoned another union leader at Ford, Vladimir Lesnik, and threatened reprisals if the Ford unionists “didn’t stop getting in [their] way.”

Over the past two years such attacks have happened more than once: labor activists have been savagely beaten in Kaliningrad, Togliatti, and Taganrog. Each time the targets were union activists who challenged the complete sway of their employers and thus all employers who recognize no one’s rights other than their own sovereign right to dictate the work conditions and the lives of “their” workers. Continue reading

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