Tag Archives: political repression

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

Original in Russian published here: www.colta.ru/docs/7991

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.

[signed:]
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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Free the Belgrade Six!

About the Case

On Saturday, September 4, 2009,  five* political activists were arrested in Belgrade on trumped up charges. The five, Tadej Kurepa, Ivan Vulović, Sanja Dojkić, Ratibor Trivunac, and Nikola Mitrović, are activists in or associates of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative, the Serbian section of the International Workers’ Association (IWA). (*The sixth person sought by police, Ivan Savić, was also arrested some days later.)

The arrests are allegedly related to a direct action which took place at the Greek Embassy on August 25. Negligible damage was done: a crack in one window, a tiny burn mark on the facade and a circled A graffiti on the embassy as a act of symbolic solidarity with Thodoros Iliopoulos. The prosecutor however imagines this as an act of “international terrorism” and would like to charge our comrades with such. If the state allows such charges to be pressed, they could be facing 3-15 years in prison.

For more information on the ASI and the case, read this interview with a Slovenian anarchist. Here is an excerpt:

– What influence does the ASI have in Serbia?

As we all know, this is a small organization, yet it has a great influence on society. They have been gaining influence in public opinion, among workers and have been shown to be the only alternative to other unions. They were very effective and persistent with anarchist propaganda, with its principles, tactics and aims, not only among the working class, also among students, teachers, etc.. We firmly believe that this is the main reason for the arrest and we assume that the Serbian intelligence service is behind the entire process.

In addition I would add that the ASI not only has an influence in Serbia, but in many Balkan countries. As these countries do not have anarcho-syndicalist organizations (with exception in Croatia) for the moment, they are the reference. The ASI has put much effort in recent years in the need for a anarchosyndicalist organization.

– What has been the reaction of the Serbian people?

Many kindred organizations have expressed solidarity with the comrades and also public figures (film directors, journalists, writers, etc.).. Also university professors and some leftist groups. As said, the ASI is far more influential than the rest of Europe thinks.

– What is the current status of other anti-order groups in Serbia?

As I said before, the Serbian state has very repressive policies. One of the most active struggles today is anti-fascism and one of the few where all organizations are quite united. This is so because fascism is very strong in Serbia, including in the parliament.

 Notably, the fascist movement tends to focus its campaign against the anarcho-syndicalism. For example, just a couple weeks ago when they made a strong campaign against the ASI. I would dare to say that Serb fascism does not focus their struggle against liberal anti-fascism. Its real enemy is anarcho-syndicalism, demonstrating, and I never get tired of repeating it, the great work he has done by the ASI.

 In fact, ASI was the catalyst in the BAFI (Belgrade Antifascist Initiative).

You can also keep updated on the case here.

What you can do

The ASI/Free the Belgrade Six solidarity website has an easy-to-use form for emailing a protest letter to high Serbian officials, including the president and prime minister. You can access it here. You can write your own message in the form or send the following prepared text:

We are writing to demand the immediate release of Tadej Kurep, Ivan Vulović, Sanja Dojkić, Ratibor Trivunac and Nikola Mitrović, arrested Sept. 4 in Belgrade on absurd grounds. The prosecutor’s assertations are clearly ridiculous. It seems perfectly clear that this case has been politicized and a show case is being made out of a minor incident. In the meanwhile, the state continues to deflect attention away from the institutionalized violence inflicted daily through war, policing and exploitation, which is the real terror of daily life for millions around the globe. We will not stand by idly as people who fight for social justice are repressed based on their history of political activism. We will campaign for the release of these activists and for the end of state repression.

The Serbian original of the following open letter can be accessed here; thanks to Comrade A. for sending us the English translation.

Open letter from a group of intellectuals concerning the court trial against six anarchists

The Indictment of Anarchists for Terrorism Is a Political Trial

The alleged throwing of two burning beer bottles at the Greek embassy was qualified as an extremely serious crime by the public prosecutor’s office on November 3, 2009. Six proven anti-fascists are thus accused of no more and no less than international terrorism! A group for monitoring the trial against the six anarchists has initiated a petition, collecting signatures under an open letter that aims to bring to public attention the fact that what we are faced with is in fact a political trial. The text of the letter has been endorsed by numerous intellectuals.

The group for monitoring the trial against six anarchists

On September 3 and 4, 2009, Ivan Vulović (24), Sanja Dojkić (19), Ivan Savić (25), Ratibor Trivunac (28), Tadej Kurepa (24), and Nikola Mitrović (29) were arrested by the police. They were arrested under suspicion that they perpetrated the criminal act of causing general danger by throwing “Molotov cocktails” at the Greek embassy building. 24 hours later the state prosecutor’s office changed its qualification of the alleged act from “causing general danger” to “criminal act of international terrorism”. We fear that this was an arbitrary interpretation of the Criminal Code and a case of its instrumentalization for quotidian political purposes.

It is necessary to state the social context in which all this is happening. Historical revisionism is becoming more and more normalized, and legal rehabilitations of Nazi collaborators from World War II are on the agenda. The equation of leftist and far-right political ideas is a consequence. In the year 2009 alone we have witnessed the escalation of violence: as a consequence, one foreign citizen was killed, and numerous threats of violence have been made by the fascist groups. All of this has met with a mild reaction on the part of state prosecutors and the police. To name just one example: in the days leading up to the gay pride parade, the threats of physical liquidation of the gay population were termed mere “polemical tones” by the state’s representative.

The state has been brought to a situation where a confrontation with the violent right-wing groups that it initially nurtured (but which have long since metastasized) seems unavoidable, if only just an illusionary confrontation. And yet the state finds its scapegoat on the left, penalizing it with draconian measures to establish a quasi-balance and thus present itself as “just” (as “restrained”) by opposing wo equally dangerous extremes.

We live in a state where there is no guarantee that a person will be prosecuted for his or her incitement of racial, religious, and ethnic hatred. In all these years, members of the clerico-fascist organization Obraz (which has been operating without interference since 1993) and the Serbian national movement 1389 (which presents itself as “patriotic” while maintaining close contacts with Russian fascist organizations) have not been held criminally liable for their acts, which have included threats against the LGBT community and numerous attacks and beatings of its members. Goran Davidović (aka “Fuehrer”), leader of the neo-Nazi organization Nacionalni stroj, was allowed to openly mock the legal system of the Republic of Serbia when he successfully appealed the guilty verdict in his case, basing his challenge on the fact that trial documents were written in the Latin alphabet.

We also need to remind ourselves of the fact that in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Serbia the act of international terrorism is equated with genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes against the civilian population, organization and incitement of genocide, war crimes, and aggressive war. We live in a country that for decades now has been dominated by the national-chauvinist discourse and where even today it is debated whether there was a genocide in Srebrenica or not, or whether mass war crimes in Kosovo even happened.

The willingess of the prosecutor’s office to qualify two thrown beer bottles in the same way as the most horrific crimes known to humanity represents a devaluation of these crimes and is a symptom of the deeply degenerated value system that made such an accusation possible.

On the night of October 23-24, R.K. (17), N.H. (18), and I.F. (19) were arrested in Vršac. The reason for their arrest was that they had been pasting up posters with the slogan “Freedom for arrested anarchists” written on them. A criminal case was initiated against these young people: they are accused of “obstruction of justice” (Article 336b of the Criminal Code). They are threatened with three years in prison if found guilty. Despite the fact that the original stated intention of including this paragraph in the Criminal Code was to combat right-wing extremism, what we see again is a crackdown on the left.

We think that the reason that a political indictment of this kind could even be produced lies in the influence the political parties have on the representative and judicial branches of the government (one example is the fact that judges are re-elected by the High Council for Legal Affairs, whose members are nominated by the parliament). The Venice Commission in the Council of Europe and the European Commision have both already pointed to this arrangement as controversial.

Taking into account Article 10 of the European Declaration of Human Rights, we do not hesitate to openly state that all the circumstances of this case clearly lead us to conclude that in its essence the trial against the six young people is a political trial. That is why we demand the withdrawal of this senseless indictment.

10 December 2009

Signed by:

Aleksej Kišjuhas, Borka Pavićević, Dragomir Olujić, Goran Despotović, Jovo Bakić, Ljubiša Rajić, Ljubomir Živkov, Pavel Domonji, Sonja Biserko, Sonja Drljević, Srbijanka Turajlić, Staša Zajović, Svetlana Lukić, Svetlana Vuković, Todor Kuljić, Nebojša Spaić, Vera Marković, Vesna Rakić Vodinelić, Vladimir Ilić, Zagorka Golubović, Zoran Petakov, Želimir Žilnik 

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New Issue of Chto Delat Confiscated and Under Investigation

PETERSBURG, August 29, 2008. On the evening of August 27, the new issue of the newspaper Chto Delat (No. 19: What Does It Mean to Lose? The Experience of Perestroika) was confiscated during a police raid at the printers in Petersburg.

The raid on the printer’s workshop was connected to an earlier incident, when a Petersburg activist was arrested by Petersburg police at the gates of the Petersburg sea port for handing out a flyer to workers. The flyer aroused suspicion because it contained material critical of the Russian-Georgian conflict, and the police raided the printer’s workshop at which the flyer had been produced, where they discovered the most recent edition of Chto Delat. They confiscated the entire edition of 3,000 newspapers and detained Chto Delat editor Dmitry Vilensky for questioning.

“The situation really did look pretty absurd,” says Vilensky. “We produced this issue for the U-Turn Quadriennial in Copenhagen, and it’s one of the most artsy issues we’ve made so far; it contains almost no references to the current political situation.” Instead, the issue is dedicated to the problematic of perestroika, whose hopes and outcome the authors subject to critical enquiry. The security officials’ suspicion was aroused by the “political look” of the paper and, in particular, by the libretto of a film-opera by the Chto Delat work group, to be premiered at U-Turn later next week, in which a nationalist, a democrat, a revolutionary, and a businessman debate the fate of the Soviet Union and its present outcome. The full text of the screenplay can be found here.

Yesterday, Vilensky was informed by the Petersburg police that the case had been handed over to the Kirov district attorney’s office to investigate whether the newspaper is in violation of the Russian constitution, which contains paragraphs against extremism and the incitement of ethnic and religious hatred. “The militia – who told me that they ‘didn’t want blood’ – were quite surprised by this move,” Vilensky says. “They told me that the signal came from the FSB official who was coordinating the raid on the printers.” The entire edition is still in custody, and will not be distributed at U-Turn, where it was meant to be part of a video-installation.

The printer’s workshop Polyarnaya Zvezda [Pole Star] has since been cordoned off as a crime scene, and all its employees questioned. It was one of the only remaining places in Petersburg to print opposition leaflets of a wide range, including the Petersburg issue of National Bolshevik organ Limonka. Its closure – and the seizure of what is perhaps Chto Delat‘s most politically innocent issue – is symptomatic of the new atmosphere of suspicion and fear that has arisen in Russia.

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