Tag Archives: March of the Millions

Putin’s War on the Left (International Solidarity Appeal)

socialistworker.org

Putin’s ongoing war on the left
February 25, 2013

Last May, before the inauguration of Vladimir Putin for yet another term as Russia’s president, tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Moscow in protest against the fraudulent election that gave Putin another victory two months before. Police descended on the peaceful demonstration and attacked protests, arresting 400 people.

Since then, Putin’s dictatorial regime has used the May 6 demonstration as a bogeyman to accuse various left-wing leaders of wanting to foment violence — when those truly bent on violence were his own security forces. In this statement, left-wing organizations in Russia — the Russian Socialist Movement, the Left Front and the Russian Anarchists — appeal for international solidarity against the government’s violence and repression.

Demonstrators in the streets of Moscow on May 6 (Sergey Kukota)

Demonstrators in the streets of Moscow on May 6 (Sergey Kukota)

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TWO MONTHS ago, we, representatives of the Russian left, asked for your solidarity in the face of the coming wave of political repressions in Russia.

Alas, today, this call is even more urgent than before. It is no longer an exaggeration to compare the political trials taking place right now to the prosecution of Russian populists in the late 19th century. The number of possible convictions resulting from the so-called “riots” of May 6, 2012 has steadily climbed over 20, and the majority of the detainees have already spent many months in jail awaiting trial.

Their names are Vladimir Akimenkov, Oleg Arkhipenkov, Andrei Barabanov, Fyodor Bakhov, Yaroslav Belousov, Alexandra Dukhanina, Stepan Zimin, Ilya Gushchin, Nikolai Kavkazsky, Alexander Kamensky, Leonid Kovyazin, Mikhail Kosenko, Sergei Krivov, Konstantin Lebedev, Maxim Luzyanin, Denis Lutskevich, Alexei Polikhovich, Leonid Razvozzhayev, and Artem Savelov.

The aim of the prosecution is self-evident: to break the will for political struggle of those unhappy with the current political regime and to systematically demolish the existing political opposition, a significant portion of which is situated on the political left.

The Investigative Committee — a structure accountable only to President Putin — has constructed the case as a wide-ranging conspiracy, stretching from rank-and-file street protesters to established politicians. Thus, on January 10, 2013, the Committee merged two trials: the May 6th “riots” (with 19 detainees, two people under instructions not to leave, and 10 hiding outside of Russia) and the “organizing of unrest” with which our comrades Konstantin Lebedev, Leonid Razvozzhayev and Sergei Udaltsov have been charged.

THE LIST of detainees continues to grow. On February 7, 24-year-old Ilya Gushchin was arrested and accused of using violence against a policeman during the May 6th “riots.” A little earlier, on January 17, while facing similar charges and imminent deportation from the Netherlands back to Russia, Alexander Dolmatov took his own life.

On February 9, Sergei Udaltsov’s status changed from instructions not to leave to house arrest. This means that his channels of communication with the outside world have been cut off, and that even the tiniest infraction will land him in jail.

In addition, the prosecution and the judges, guided by the Kremlin, keep on placing pressure on the detainees, further risking their health and lives.

Thus, for example, the eyesight of 25-year-old Vladimir Akimenkov has continued to worsen since his arrest on June 10, 2012. Akimenkov, a Left Front activist, suffers from congenital impaired eyesight, which has deteriorated in prison conditions and may soon turn into a permanent loss of vision. Akimenkov’s lawyer, human rights activists and over 3,000 petitioners have asked the authorities to release him. However, the prosecution and the courts have remained firm and extended Akimenkov’s arrest until May 6, 2013.

Another of the accused, 37-year-old Mikhail Kosenko, has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since his military service. Instead of granting him access to medication or releasing him, the court is preparing to send him to “forced treatment” in a prison hospital.

Leonid Razvozzhayev, 40, a coordinator of the Left Front, was abducted from Ukrainian soil by unknown parties and delivered to Moscow. After the abduction, a confession appears to have been extorted from Razvozzhayev under threat of torture and harm to his family. Once in prison, he renounced his “confessions,” but his words are still being actively used against others. Currently, Razvozzhayev has been transferred to the Siberian city of Irkutsk, where his freedom to communicate with relatives and lawyers is severely limited.

The trial will most likely begin in earnest in March. The prosecutor will claim the existence of a massive anti-state conspiracy in which the accused will be said to have played various roles. We have little doubt that this trial will be biased and unjust. Unless fought against, its probable outcome will be the broken lives of dozens of people (the charges carry imprisonment up to eight years), conspiratorial hysterics in the state-run media, and a carte blanche for new repression.

Your solidarity now is crucial for us. On the eve of this shameful trial, from February 28 to March 3 we ask you to stage protests in front of any consulates of the Russian Federation in your countries, to disseminate information about the political trials and to urge your government and relevant NGOs to act. Please send reports on solidarity action and any other information or questions to RussiaSolidarity@gmail.com.

The Russian Socialist Movement
The Left Front
Russian Anarchists

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Filed under leftist movements, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society

Manifesto of the Occupy Movement in Russia

The organizing committee of the June 12 opposition march and rally in Moscow refused to let members of the Occupy movement read their manifesto onstage. Activists assembled a mini-rally at The March of the Millions and, using the “human microphone,” read out their manifesto along with sympathetic anarchists.

The text we are going to read aloud was composed collectively and publicly by members of the Occupy movement.

On May 7 we took to the streets of our cities and remained there. Moscow, Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Kaliningrad. When we were illegally detained by the police, when the riot cops chased us away, we returned again to our streets, we occupied them once and for all in order to liberate them from the violence of the authorities. This is our city! This is our country!

We took to the boulevards and squares, and began living together, setting aside ideologies and disagreements. We organized ourselves. We got field kitchens, security and public awareness campaigns up and running. We set up camps at various points in the city to protest day and night.

We learned to negotiate with one another and make decisions at General Assemblies, decisions that give every individual opinion the right to be heard and to influence the decision of the majority. We made mistakes, suffered divisions and came together again, for we had no teachers and no one to help us except ourselves.

Over this month of hard daily work we have gained practical experience: we have learned to organize ourselves and solve problems independently.

We do not trust the authorities. We do no trust the laws they pass, and we do not expect someone to come along and write better laws behind closed doors and make sure they are enforced without our involvement.

But we trust ourselves: this is how direct popular democracy is born. A democracy without leaders whom we only know from TV screens, leaders who are somewhere far away, while we are right here. A democracy without leaders who forget about us as soon as they have clawed their way to the top.

You cannot change the system by acting the way the system does. The goal of our self-organization is to build a different political system, a system based on the principles of horizontality and democracy.

Only the opportunity for each person to influence how decisions are made will enable us to live in our country the way we want to live.

Do we want Russia to join the WTO?

Do we want to live under the new law on demonstrations?

Do we want to have commercialized education and medical care?

Will we continue to let ourselves be duped during elections?

Or do we not want all this?

Or can we take to the streets and begin acting independently? Right here, right now, without waiting for help from the authorities or media personalities?

We can make our own education by organizing free lectures, seminars and discussions. Make our own decisions and prove ourselves by getting things done. Make our own public television rather than waiting for Channel One to tell the truth. Come to municipal governments with ready-made solutions rather than waiting for them to figure out how to improve our lives. Form cells on the ground that will organize society around them and become district councils. Take to the streets with public awareness campaigns, telling people about the crimes of the regime and how to stop them.

Each of us who begins doing something in their cities, in their districts, lays the foundations of self-organization along with their friends and neighbors.

We are asked, “If not Putin, then who?”

We reply, “Who if not us?”

We ourselves, our self-organization, are the powers that be!

Occupy in order to liberate!

(The original manifesto in Russian has been posted here.)

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Filed under activism, film and video, open letters, manifestos, appeals, protests, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)