Two years ago a wave of terror against social activists and journalists rolled over Russia. Newspaper editor and activist Mikhail Beketov was severely beaten in Khimki. In Moscow, persons unknown attacked sociologist and activist Carine Clément. In Vsevolozhsk (Leningrad Region), independent trade union leader Alexei Etmanov was also attacked by unknown assailants on multiple occasions. In Yakutia, trade union activist Valentin Urusov was framed by local police on a drugs charge, tried, and sentenced to several years in prison. In response to this terror, social activists held a demonstration at Chistye Prudy in Moscow that was attended by a few hundred people.
Two years have passed. Police have still not identified and arrested the people who assaulted Beketov, Clément, and Etmanov. Valentin Urusov is still serving time in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Today we are witnessing a repeat of the events of two years ago. Environmentalist Konstantin Fetisov has been severely beaten in Khimki. Unknown assailants have attacked and severely beaten journalist Oleg Kashin. The authorities are trying to frame antifascist activists for crimes they did not commit. In Zhukovsky, thugs beat up journalist Anatoly Adamchuk.
We believe that these new tragedies are the result of apathy in our society, which two years ago was unable to force authorities to find and punish the guilty parties in those dark events. The time has come to put an end to this, for if this time the criminals are not found, the atmosphere of impunity will untie the hands of all other scumbags once and for all. Instead of being shocking exceptions, these acts of terror will become a matter of everyday practice.
At 2:00 p.m. on November 14 we ask you to come join us at Chistye Prudy in Moscow. We realize that there is no point in long speeches. It is unlikely that anyone can learn something new, something that has not been published in the Internet. And so we suggest that you bring with you anything that can make a lot of noise as a symbol of your rage and indignation.
Silence and calm is exactly the reaction aimed for by those who jail, cripple, and murder people who disagree with the existing order.
Russia: Stop attacks on auto workers union
Alexei Etmanov (pictured), the leader of the Ford-Vsevelozhsk trade union and co-chairman of Interregional Trade Union of Autoworkers (ITUA) has been the target of two brutal attacks on November 8 and 13. An anonymous caller following the first assault contacted the union and warned Etmanov to stop his union activities or “we will take away your life,” the caller said. No one has been charged for the crimes and an investigation has been suspended. Other members of ITUA have been assaulted, including the leaders of the local trade union organisation of Taganrog automobile plant, Alexei Gramm and Sergei Brizgalov. Those incidents were not investigated either.
The International Metalworkers Federation is carrying out a campaign to protect the leaders of ITUA, demanding that the Russian authorities conduct a complete investigation of all cases of the assaults and to punish the guilty ones – both those that took part and those who ordered the crimes to be committed.
Please follow the link at the top of this message to sign the petition in support of Russian auto industry unionists.
We here at Chtodelat News are pleased to announce the launch of an important new online resource for social activists in Russia and those of you who read Russian and are interested in keeping abreast of how the fight for civil, labor, environmental, housing and human rights is going in the world’s largest country. Dvizhenie—“(The) Movement”—is the brainchild of three friends and allies: Artem Marchenkov, Vlad Tupikin, and Alexander Bikbov. In recognition of their timely hard work, we are pleased to publish a translation of an essay by Alexander Bikbov that was just posted on Dvizhenie. Bikbov reflects on the recent series of attacks on labor and social activists in Russia and asks the question that should be on everyone’s mind: who stands to gain from these cowardly crimes?
Alexander Bikbov, sociologist
Crimes against Justice: Who Stands to Gain?
The events of the last several days—a series of attacks on [Russian] activists—are acutely alarming. It is not political hierarchs who have been attacked or rival businessmen or professional militants from one or another side of the barricades. No, these attacks have been directed against people who have expressed their sense of fairness and justice publicly: in print and at demonstrations, by defending their own rights and the rights of others, by taking honest, consistent stances at their workplaces. The perpetrators are unidentifiable; their masters are anonymous. These are blows from the dark. Continue reading
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