Tag Archives: freedom of assembly

The Cradle of Three Revolutions and Russia’s Cultural Capital Bids Farewell to Freedom of Assembly

www.fontanka.ru

Poltavchenko has banned demonstrations on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Isaac’s Square and Palace Square

March 20, 2013

St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko has signed amendments to the law on rallies and demonstrations. The document was signed on March 19 and published on the official website today.

Under the amendments, Nevsky Prospekt, St. Isaac’s Square, and Palace Square will be closed to mass protest actions. It is also prohibited to hold a rally at a distance of 50 meters from buildings where government offices are located.

IMAG1279

On February 20, the Legislative Assembly adopted en bloc amendments to the Law “On Meetings, Rallies, Demonstrations, Marches and Pickets in St. Petersburg,” and the same day submitted them for the Governor to sign.

“This Law of St. Petersburg will enter into force ten days after its publication,” the statement reads.

Photo: Fontanka River, St. Petersburg, March 17, 2013. Courtesy of Chtodelat News

1 Comment

Filed under political repression, protests, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)

Harlem Shake Illegal in Saint Petersburg, Russia’s Cultural Capital

Teen Faces Fine Over Dance
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
March 6, 2013

A teenager was charged with holding an unauthorized assembly after being detained at a Harlem Shake flash mob in St. Petersburg on Sunday.

Vasily Zabelov, 17, is seen on a video on the Fontanka.ru website being led by two policemen to a police car following the flash mob, which drew hundreds to a site near the Galereya shopping center next to the Moscow Railway Station on Ligovsky Prospekt.

In answer to a question from a reporter asking what Zabelov was being detained for, one of the policemen in the video tells the reporter to contact the police’s press service.

Speaking on Tuesday, Zabelov said he was held for two-and-a-half hours at a police precinct before charges were pressed. He said that his case will be heard by the commission of minors’ affairs, rather than in court, because of his age.

He described himself as the event’s chief organizer, saying that he used some help from a friend to get sound equipment and a camera.

According to Zabelov, the event drew 300 people, who were then joined by passers-by, increasing the number to 500. He said he was a student welder at the Russian College of Traditional Culture.

Earlier, Zabelov told the RIA Novosti news agency that he faced a fine of 10,000 to 50,000 rubles ($325-$1,630) and that he would appeal to online communities if fined.

Zabelov said he took his detention “in a negative way.”

“In my view, the government should give people the right to relax and have some fun. It’s not a political rally or anything, is it?” he said.

Harlem Shake is an Internet meme that peaked in popularity last month.

Groups of costumed people gather unexpectedly at different, often unlikely locations across the world to perform a wild dance to the track “Harlem Shake” by American DJ and producer Baauer. Videos of the event are later uploaded to the Internet.

The police said that “policemen stopped the unsanctioned event,” Interfax reported, but the police’s claim was denied by Zabelov and other participants who say police stepped in after the event finished. Two St. Petersburg residents were said to have called police, saying that that the event obstructed pedestrians.

In the past 12 months, St. Petersburg police have dispersed — and detained some participants of — a number of unlikely non-political events held by local teenagers. These included a pillow fight, a snowball fight and a Michael Jackson memorial event.

Leave a comment

Filed under international affairs, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)

FAQ about Petersburg, Russia’s Cultural Capital

Why was St Petersburg selected as Host for Manifesta 10?

Manifesta is the only roving biennial in the world, changing locations every two years. Its origin is based on addressing the disbalance in between East and West Europe after the fall of the Wall at the end of the 1980’s. St.Petersburg is the crucial European city to question such a disbalance today. Alexander Pushkin called the former capital of Russia the ‘window to Europe’.

Source: manifesta.org

______

Why are Petersburgers on the point of being essentially banned from protesting in the center of their own city, the ‘window to Europe,’ recently selected by Manifesta, the ultra-progressive European biennial of contemporary art, to host its 2014 event?

Because, unfortunately, some Petersburgers have in the recent past exercised their constitutional right to free speech and freedom of assembly in a provocative, irresponsible way by calling for things vehemently disapproved of by the vast majority of rank-and-file Petersburgers, things like free and fair elections, gay rights, preservation of historic buildings and green spaces, an end to racist assaults and murders, free public health care and education, freedom of assembly, etc. Also, as Russia’s cultural capital, Petersburg has a special duty to ensure that everyone can enjoy its cultural riches and sights: protesters prevent ordinary people and tourists from doing just that by blocking sidewalks and squares, and generally drawing attention to themselves.

New Local Bill Seeks to Ban Protests in City Center
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
February 27, 2013

Opposition political groups and concerned citizens continue to protest against a new local bill on demonstrations that effectively bans protests in the city center, passed by the Legislative Assembly last week in its third and final reading.

In hopes of preventing Governor Georgy Poltavchenko from signing it, the Yabloko Democratic Party has filed a complaint against the bill, describing it as “outrageous” and “illegal.”

“We are acting to prevent this becoming law, because, once in force, and used even once, the new law will have a devastating impact on the rights of citizens,” said Yabloko’s Nikolai Rybakov in a statement.

Called “On assemblies, rallies, demonstrations, marches and picketing in St. Petersburg,” the bill was passed Feb. 20 by 27 deputies, with 15 voting against.

The bill forbids the holding of rallies on Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg’s main street, as well as on Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Square, which had previously been used for rallies, including the now-legendary mass protests against the 1991 anti-reformist coup.

Rallies will also be banned from within 50 meters of the entrances of buildings occupied by state authorities, while one-man demonstrations can only be held if there is no other protester within 50 meters.

According to the bill, the restrictions have been imposed “in order to protect the rights and freedoms of man and citizen, the rule of law, order and public safety.”

In his statement, Grigory Yavlinsky, chair of the Yabloko faction in the city’s Legislative Assembly, stressed that by passing the law, the city parliament ignored not only the negative opinion expressed by the public at the Dec. 3 public hearing and an address by the city’s ombudsman Alexander Shishlov, but also the Constitutional Court’s Feb. 14 ruling. Every amendment proposed by opposition deputies was rejected.

Apart from harsh restrictions on rallies, the bill also states that without authorization from the authorities, no more than 200 demonstrators are allowed to assemble at specially designated sites “for the collective discussion of socially important issues and expression of public opinion.” City Hall has designated a small site on the Field of Mars for such a purpose.

Andrei Dmitriyev, local chair of The Other Russia party, said that the law may obstruct the historic May Day demonstration, a massive event featuring a broad range of political parties and movements, from the pro-Kremlin United Russia party to liberals, communists and nationalists.

“It’s even not clear how they will hold a May Day demonstration this year, when everybody always used to walk down Nevsky Prospekt and then rallied on Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Square,” Dmitriyev said Tuesday.

“It’s essential not only for civic activists, but also for every citizen, because people, when they are unhappy about anything, want to come to protest where the authorities sit, be it the Governor, the Legislative Assembly, district administrations or courts.

“These are places where it’s forbidden to protest now, so they lose any meaning. Of course, it’s all illegal, it contradicts the Constitution, and we think that the main thing is not how the authorities act, but how the opposition and city residents will act.”

He said that the small site on the Field of Mars offered by City Hall as an allegedly liberal concession, allowing small groups to protest there without the necessary authorization, should be boycotted.

“No self-respecting opposition [campaigners] can rally there, but both Yabloko and the nationalists have taken the bait and obediently go there to rally. It makes no sense.”

The State Duma passed a national law harshly restricting the freedom of assembly in June 2012, following a wave of protests against the flawed State Duma and presidential elections that were held in late 2011 and early 2012. It imposed a number of restrictions on public assemblies and abruptly raised fines for holding unsanctioned protests. Local laws followed.

Rights groups have criticized the law as violating both the Russian Constitution and international agreements.

______

What is the deal with Petersburg’s so-called anti-gay law? Why does it have people in Melbourne, Australia, of all places, upset?

People in Melbourne, Australia, should mind their own business. The Petersburg law you mention is not directed against gays, but against the promotion of homosexuality amongst minors. Maybe the people of Melbourne, Australia, are happy to leave their kids at the mercy of predatory faggots, pedophiles, and other sexual and political perverts, but in Petersburg we’re crazy about kids and deeply devoted to Russian Orthodox Christian family values.

Please explain: Doyle on anti-gay law
Jason Dowling
The Age
February 23, 2013

LORD mayor Robert Doyle [of Melbourne] has requested an urgent meeting with Russia’s ambassador and a briefing from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to discuss new anti-gay laws in St Petersburg.

The move follows a petition by Carl Katter, half-brother of federal MP Bob Katter, to have Melbourne City Council dump its sister-city relationship with St Petersburg because he said the Russian city had enacted ”horrific” anti-gay laws.

More than 4800 people have signed the petition at Change.org.

The Russian city has introduced broad laws banning ”homosexual propaganda”.

”It is referred to as the gay propaganda law, but it is all-encompassing,” said Mr Katter, a campaigner for marriage equality.

”Melbourne is one of the most progressive cities of the world … and our mayor and council should be proud of that and stand up to such blatant homophobia,” Mr Katter said.

Cr Doyle said, ”I am very aware of the new laws in St Petersburg.

”I have sought a meeting with the Russian ambassador, I will take advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and once we have had those conversations we will be making further comment,” he said.

”Obviously my first position is, it is always best to continue to talk to try and effect outcomes in a positive way.”

The Italian fashion capital Milan is already believed to have frozen its sister-city relationship with St Petersburg over the gay rights issue.

”The community has been watching what has been happening in St Petersburg and the stories that have been coming out have been pretty devastating – and the fact that we are a sister city with them is not a good look,” Mr Katter said.

 

1 Comment

Filed under contemporary art, feminism, gay rights, international affairs, protests, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)

We Have No Honor to “Play Off”

Playoff for the Honor of Our City. Obvodny Canal, Petersburg, February 23, 2013

 

Unfortunately, we have no honor to “play off”. . .

_____

Gay Groups Continue to Fight Unfair Treatment
By Sergey Chernov
The St. Petersburg Times
February 20, 2013

The small village of Novosyolki, southwest of St. Petersburg, has become City Hall’s favorite site to send St. Petersburg’s LGBT rights activists to rally, as the organizers of another protest planned this week found out when they were told that 15 sites they had suggested within the city were unavailable for their assembly. Meanwhile, a local court found no violations in City Hall’s continued refusals to let LGBT activists rally in the center.

On Monday, City Hall rejected a permit for the Democratic St. Petersburg movement to rally in the city against the national bill forbidding the “promotion of homosexuality” to minors, which is about to be accepted by the State Duma in its second hearing. It was passed in the first hearing on Jan. 25. Similar local laws have already been enacted in St. Petersburg as well as in ten other regions across Russia.

As the law on public assemblies requires the administration to suggest an alternative site if the one suggested by the organizers is unavailable, the organizers of the protest that had been planned for Sunday, Feb. 24 were told to hold it in Novosyolki.

“I didn’t go there, but I checked it on the map; it’s beyond the Ring Road, and takes two hours to get to from St. Petersburg,” said Natalya Tsymbalova, an activist with Democratic St. Petersburg and the Alliance of Straights for LGBT Equality.

“There is an aerodrome, a dump and a cemetery there. It looks like they have found the most remote location which is still officially part of the city.”

According to Tsymbalova, City Hall first dismissed five suggested sites last week, saying that other events were scheduled to be held at the first four, while large-scale road maintenance works would be held at the fifth. She said the organizers had not been given the reasons for the alleged unavailability of the ten other suggested sites, which include Palace Square and St. Isaac’s Square, as well as smaller locations where other rallies are usually authorized.

Tsymbalova said the third application, containing five other suggested locations, would be submitted to City Hall shortly.

“We’re running out of time and there’s already little hope,” she said.

“They look determined not to let us go anywhere but Novosyolki.”

As the planned date of the rally approaches, chances of the rally eventually being authorized are growing slimmer.

“If they still don’t let us have a rally, we have an idea to hold a kind of flash mob by walking around all the rejected sites to see what is really happening at them on Feb. 24; to see if there are some real events taking place there or if we have been given the runaround, so we could use it in court,” Tsymbalova said.

“We’ll definitely file a complaint about this absolutely insolent and mocking rejection and we hope to win in the city court or the Supreme Court, because it’s obviously unlawful.”

On Monday, the Smolninsky District Court dismissed a complaint by LGBT rights organization Vykhod (Coming Out), which was given Novosyolki as the only available site to hold a protest against the anti-gay law ahead of its first hearing at the State Duma in December.

According to Ksenia Kirichenko, the coordinator of Vykhod’s legal aid program, a representative of City Hall described the village as the most appropriate location for such an event.

“Novosyolki is becoming a favorite tool for effectively banning LGBT rights rallies,” Kirichenko said in a news release.

In 2011, City Hall redirected the organizers of the St. Petersburg Gay Pride event to Novosyolki. Instead, an attempt to hold the rally was undertaken in the city center on Senatskaya Ploshchad, beside the Bronze Horseman monument, and resulted in arrests and fines.

According to Kirichenko, Vykhod will appeal the Vyborgsky District Court’s ruling.

Photo by Chtodelat News

Leave a comment

Filed under feminism, gay rights, political repression, protests, Russian society

Russia: Reading Aloud in Public Is Illegal (Protest against the Torture of Russian Prisoners)

On November 26, a protest against the torture of Russian prisoners took place outside the headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service in Moscow. The protest was occasioned by the conflict in penal colony № 6 in Kopeisk. Police detained more than ten people during the protest.

This is how the protest was announced on Facebook:

On November 26 at 6:00 p.m, a protest against torture in Russian prisons will take place outside the headquarters of the Federal Penitentiary Service at Zhitnaya 14.

We protest against torture in Russian prisons and support the inmates in Kopeisk, who spoke out against bullying, extortion and sexual abuse. During the protest, we will be reading prisoners’ stories of torture and humiliation aloud. We are convinced that the public should be aware of what is actually going on in Russian prisons. And not just be aware, but try and stop this nightmare.

At penal colony no. 6 in Kopeisk in the Chelyabinsk region, more than a thousand prisoners have for several days refused to go inside in protest against torture and beatings. Silently, lined up, they stand in the cold for several hours. They refuse to eat, believing that it is better to die than to continue to suffer torture, humiliation and blackmail.
A group of convicts seized the guard tower in the industrial area of the colony and hung up a banner with the message “People, help us!” Riot police were deployed to the colony; they attacked prisoners’ relatives who had gathered outside the prison gates. People were beaten bloody and the windows of their cars were smashed. Among the victims was human rights activist Oksana Trufanova. “I heard [the command] ‘Beat!’ and the relatives were attacked by men in black masks and uniforms wielding clubs,” she said in an interview. “Everyone fled, but [the riot police] ran many people down. Personally, I was hit on the head and pushed to the ground. I told them I was a human rights activist, but they told me rudely, using obscene language, to keep quiet or I’d get another whacking.”

Even now the authorities are trying to convince us that nothing has happened, and that journalists have exaggerated the scale of the protests. That is why it is so important not to let them hush up this outrage.
We demand:

–  An objective investigation of all allegations of torture and extortion in the colony, and an open trial of Federal Penitentiary Service employees implicated in them.
– The punishment of Interior Ministry officers who employed violence against family members and human rights activists gathered outside colony no. 6.

______

 Why the prisoners “rioted”:

Olga Belousova, the sister of one of the inmates, was allowed inside Penal Colony No. 6 along with two other relatives. As a witness, she was able to speak to the press about the situation there.

“There were 60 people in the room; all were standing quietly,” Belousova said. “I told them that we support them and came to make sure that everything is fine, and that we want to make their voices heard outside the colony.”

The complaints, which were mainly communicated by the prisoners, include enormous extortions, inappropriate use of force and numerous other humiliations, Belousova says.

“They don’t touch those who give them money, but against those who can’t they use force to make their relatives pay,” she added.

Former convict Mikhail Ermuraky believes that this system of exploitation was a main reason for the riot.  

His mother said her son was tortured multiple times, sometimes even including with sexual abuse.

“They start beating those who don’t want to pay,” said Ermuraky in a recent interview with the RIA Novosti news agency.

The father of another convict, who spent three months in colony No.6, told Russia’s Dozhd television that he has twice paid off prison staff.

“Every month… If you don’t bring money, there will be problems,” a man who wasn’t named told Dozhd.

Payments in prison are typically euphemized as “voluntary contributions.” Local human rights ombudsman Aleksey Sevastianov has noted complaints from relatives that such “contributions” can sometimes reach up to 200,000 rubles – more than $6,400. For comparison, the average Russian’s annual income is just over $10,000.

For convicts, such sums are impossible to pay – roughly half the prisoners in the colony are not employed. Those who do have jobs in the prison are paid extremely little – less than 100 rubles, or just over $2, per month. Such a wage is not enough even to buy food in a convenience store in the territory, where prices are said to be higher than in the town.

The head of the detention facility met with inmates’ relatives after the uprising, assuring them that he is willing to abolish “the system of contributions.” However, relatives now fear that this change could bring retaliation from the prison staff.

When asked if such a system could be considered as criminal corruption, human rights ombudsman Sevastianov agreed that it is illegal, and should be investigated.

He explained that with the scheme working in the facility, relatives wire money to a bank account given by the colony’s administration. Thus, for example, millions of rubles sent by convicts’ families were spent to build a new church on the territory.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society

Notes from Blockupy Frankfurt

edu-factory.org
Notes from Blockupy Frankfurt
Monday, June 11, 2012

by SANDRO MEZZADRA
May 22, 2012

1. This is what democracy looks like

The meeting, on Thursday May 17, is in Paulsplatz, a place full of significance in German political history. Here (in the Paulskirche) people met after the March revolution of the 1848 constituent assembly that proposed the first German constitution before being overwhelmed by the reaction. Many of the protestors that approach the plaza in small groups have another Constitution in mind, that of 1949 federal Germany, and they carry signs recalling the articles about fundamental rights. For two days, Frankfurt lives a grotesque state of exception, with the consequent suspension of fundamental rights, principally the rights to demonstrate and freely express dissent, in theory (and for obvious reasons) strongly protected in Germany.

The concentration in Paulsplatz has also been prohibited, called for by a coalition of associations in defense of basic rights. When we meet in the streets in groups of a few hundred, the police shut down all access. Every time that someone speaks through a megaphone, the police loudspeakers repeat that the rally is prohibited, the power of decibels choking the voice of protest.

A few hours later, while groups of protesters are surrounded by police in other parts of the city, many of them detained and driven away from Frankfurt, in the city’s central square (the Römer) three hundred people manage to come together. A tent is erected and suddenly it is made clear that the police won’t tolerate such a thing. Thousands of agents immediately surround the plaza, they intervene forcefully, picking each protester off the ground, carrying them out of the plaza. Many of us continue showing the police the Constitution, the adrenaline of the men and women in uniform, children and old people being dragged out, someone ends up hurt. All of this to dissolve a peaceful sit-in.

These scenes are repeated on Friday but this time the police can’t stop a group of protesters from occupying a small space in front of the fences erected to protect the headquarters of the European Central Bank. The police pressure continues to be suffocating but anyone who has managed to make it here can console themselves with the view of Frankfurt’s financial district apparently paralyzed. A first account begins to circulate that will be used by the historic liberal newspaper “Frankfurter Rundschau,” after Saturday’s protest: the bankers have shut the banks, the police have blocked the city…

Mixed feelings after the first two days in Frankfurt: the press’s reaction is decidedly positive, more than a few will write in the main newspapers that Blockupy Frankfurt has won. Apocalyptic scenes constructed by the police to justify the massive security measures (five million euros, a considerable amount, even in Germany) are superposed with images of old women being grabbed by agents dressed as Robocops. Someone joked about Merkel’s indignation over human rights violations in Ukraine. On the other hand, the sensation is of having participated in a staged event, and, at the same time, in an experiment. There couldn’t be a more effective representation, in the heart of Europe’s financial district, of the gulf between capitalism and democracy, which is one of the themes that underlines the crisis in this part of the world. The crisis of capitalism’s legitimacy in the economic crisis has been made clear in Frankfurt in all of its potential violence, with a kind of experimental anticipation of what could happen if the celebrated “German model” begins to fall apart.

“This is their democracy,” chanted the protesters on the streets of Frankfurt. A slogan with a double meaning: “their” democracy is the police’s state of siege, “our” democracy is the real one, that of the encampments and the Occupy movement, and it is what feeds resistance and struggle in and against the crisis. There weren’t many of us in Frankfurt on Thursday and Friday: many buses were stopped at the city’s entrance and sent back, the climate of fear created in the previous weeks has certainly had its “effectiveness,” and every time you moved you physically felt the limit imposed by the police presence. But the determination and even the joy of those that were there was a great expression of their consciousness of being part of a much larger movement, materially building a horizon of a radical alternative to the crisis.

2. A-anti-anticapitalista

The day started early on Saturday, with meetings and preparation for the demonstration, the only authorized demonstration among all the initiatives planned by the Blockupy Frankfurt coalition. Once we arrived to the concentration, it was clear it would be a large protest. Buses and trains arrived from the Frankfurt region, from all of Germany, from across Europe. There are the banners of Attac and Linke, some trade unions (especially of services, verd.di), anti-nuclear ecologists, but above all young people. The atmosphere is serene, joyful, but there is also much concern: they are saying that the police will do anything to provoke, to obtain “images” that justify the state of emergency, that would somehow erase the images from Thursday in Römer….

That’s what is repeated during the demonstration. When the “anti-capitalist bloc” joins, the police surround it, attempting to break the protest in two. But this time they can’t: Attac and Linke, who find themselves in the back and at the head of the “anti-capitalist bloc,” reject every attempt by the police to separate the “peaceful” protesters from the “violent” ones. For hours the demonstration travels the streets of Frankfurt and arrives intact to the square where it’s scheduled to end. More than 25,000 protesters (German, therefore accurate, numbers) give a different meaning to the actions of the previous days, and above all, represent an optimal base for a political gamble over the future of the Blockupy movement in Germany.

“A-anti-anticapitalista” is the chant that’s repeated throughout the demonstration, first from the anti-capitalist bloc (the most numerous) and then by everyone. A slogan that’s maybe too “basic” but acquires a precise meaning in light of what’s happened in Frankfurt during the previous weeks and in general during the European crisis: the “real democracy” of the encampments and the Occupy movement can only qualify itself inside the anti-capitalist struggle. Today if we are witnessing a tendency toward a divergence between capitalism and democracy, the reinvention of democracy – far from being located in the sphere of “pure politics” – has to pass through a radical critique of capitalism.

3. Solidarität

As soon as the Blockupy Frankfurt proposal began to circulate, I began thinking about what was important in that proposal: the reason that it would be worthwhile to go, was precisely because the mobilization was in Frankfurt. The reopening of the initiative of the movement in Germany seemed to me essential from the point of view of struggles in Europe. The rupture of the consensus that the “German model” enjoyed, the development of conflicts and political initiatives around the cracks, like the “reform” of the welfare state put in march by the red-green government (the so-called Hartz IV), the politicization of the precarity that is so widespread today, above all for the youth… all of these are essential steps for the construction and consolidation of a European space of struggles. Obviously, this is not to deny that the impact of the crisis in Germany is different from in the rest of Europe. On the contrary, I think that one of the most urgent tasks is to reconstruct the crisis’s geography, the heterogeneity of its modes of manifestation and its different effects in different contexts (in Europe and at the global level). But this “cartography of heterogeneity” of the crisis’s effects has to be combined with an understanding of its systemic dynamics, of the interdependence based on which it unfolds. Above all in Europe.

From this point of view, the events of Frankfurt represent, without a doubt, as the comrades from Interventionistische Linke (http://www.dazwischengehen.org/) write, “a beginning.” There was important European participation, despite the emergency situation in which we had to move, and there were important moments of discussion between activists from different countries. However, we cannot deny that in the weeks prior to the days of action, communication was difficult; there were continuous problems of “translation,” in the literal sense (banally, the majority of the documents that circulated before and during the days of Blockupy Frankfurt were only in German) but also in the broader sense, in the difficulty to translate not only different languages, struggles, cultures and practices but also profoundly heterogeneous experiences of the crisis. In a way, we can say that in respect to the most recent cycle of struggle of of the global movement of the beginning of the century (being more “rooted” in specific situations), there has been a recession in Frankfurt in terms of working in network and of activism at a “transnational” level. This seems to me where we need to begin to work immediately, as much in the practical construction of transnational encounters for discussion and organization as in the more general problem of a “space” for political action.

From this point of view, the rhetoric of “solidarity” (with the Greek people, the Spanish people, the Italians…), dominant in both the planning and during the days of action in Frankfurt, is decidedly problematic. On the one hand, it proposes a language (that of proletarian internationalism) today that – far from being able to be reactivated in its classical terms – indicates the terrain where it is necessary to put to work the movements’ power of invention and theoretical production and, on the other hand, it suffers, limiting itself to a mechanical reversal in terms of “solidarity,” the representation of power relations within the European Union. The idea of the dislocation that is needed today, the invention of a new common area of struggles and movements, ends up being overshadowed.

4. Blockupy Europe

The days in Frankfurt highlight the problem of Europe, of a new European dimension of the movements’ struggles and actions. Within this dimension, as we have said many times before, we can (and we should) experiment with a combination of rooting the struggles in specific metropolitan areas and the construction of a space in which these same struggles can multiply their force and begin to construct an alternative political program. I’m well aware that this is only stating the terms of the problem, not a solution. But it’s a statement that should first assert its political realism: it’s only through the struggles’ capacity for dislocation within a European dimension that we can oppose the growth of the old and new right-wings in their attempts to “occupy” the spaces and rhetoric of national sovereignty; it is only within the European dimension that we can aim to build a new favorable relation of force with financial capital. In Frankfurt, also from this point of view, we have participated in a new “beginning,” we have seen the potential and difficulties. Already in the coming weeks, before falling to the times of crisis around the Greek question, we will not lack opportunities to test ourselves.

Originally in Italian: http://uninomade.org/note-da-blockupy-francoforte/

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, international affairs, leftist movements, political repression, protests, urban movements (right to the city)

“A violent mob of young people armed with pillows is moving towards Palace Square”

www.echo.msk.ru

Flashmob participants in Petersburg may be the first accused of violating rules on mass events
June 10, 2012 | 16:00

Participants in today’s flash mob on the Field of Mars in St. Petersburg may be the first accused of violating regulations on mass events following the tightening of laws on rallies. Local media report that seven people were arrested during the action.

Participants of the pillow fight are threatened with large fines. Eyewitnesses report that most of them were detained during the event — people were snatched from the crowd one by one. According to Fontanka.ru, detainees are being charged at a police precinct with violating regulations on demonstrations, rallies and marches. If the young people are accused of holding an unsanctioned rally, they face fines of up to 30,000 rubles [approx. 740 euros]. According to Fontanka.ru, the flash mob was attended by several hundred people. Two teams walked through the center of the northern capital to the Field of Mars, where the decisive battle took place. “Adrenaline. Positivity. Drive” was how organizers had defined the point of the event. However, police reacted to the event with less optimism. According to witnesses, law enforcement officers broadcast warning messages over the radio: “A violent mob of young people armed with pillows is moving toward Palace Square.”

Flash mob organizers emphasize that the action had no political overtones.

Leave a comment

Filed under political repression, Russian society