Tag Archives: Russian antifa

January 19 Committee: Call for Antifascist Demonstration, January 19, Moscow

http://19jan.ru/

Call for Antifascist Demonstration, January 19, 2011, Moscow

January 19, 2011 will mark the second anniversary of the murders of two antifascists, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova. They were murdered in Moscow in broad daylight, shot in the head by a gunman.

The murders were brazen and demonstrative. Although from the outset various explanations were given for the murders (as a lawyer, Markelov had handled cases in Chechnya, both against the federal forces who tortured and murdered Chechen civilians, and the Chechen leadership, who are suspected of kidnapping and murdering people; he had also represented journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was nearly beaten to death in autumn 2008, in his court battle with Khimki mayor Vladimir Strelchenko), Stas and Nastya’s comrades in the antifascist movement assumed that neo-Nazis had been involved. For it had been Stanislav Markelov who had pressured law enforcement authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the murder, in the spring of 2006, of the young antifascist Alexander Riukhin. It was thanks to Markelov’s efforts that the authorities were unable to sweep this case under the rug or drop it altogether. It was thanks to his persistence that police investigators not only came up with a list of suspects, but also brought the case to court. Half of the people involved in Alexander’s murder were arrested and convicted for the crime, while the rest were placed on the federal wanted list.

Today, we have almost no doubts that law enforcement authorities have Stas and Nastya’s real murderer in custody, along with his female accomplice. Their court trial should begin soon. These two people are neo-Nazis, and one of them is in fact one of the people who was involved in the fatal attack on Alexander Riukhin but was not found by the authorities after being placed on the wanted list.

The murderers have been apprehended, their trial will soon begin. Does that mean society can breathe a sigh of relief?

No, it does not.

Dozens of less publicized racist murders take place in our country every year. The victims of these murders are Russian citizens of non-Slavic appearance as well as immigrants from former Soviet republics and former Soviet allies. S0viet-era international solidarity (whether fictitious or real) has been replaced by ethnic intolerance, by hatred towards people who are different, who speak a different language, whose eyes are differently shaped, whose hair and skin are a different color.

As a rule, we don’t remember the names of these victims of neo-Nazi terror. Often we don’t even learn their names: the press merely informs us that someone has murdered a citizen of Uzbekistan, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, an Azerbaijani, an Armenian, an immigrant from Vietnam, a refugee from Afghanistan. We do not see their faces or the faces of their grieving relatives. It as if they pass anonymous into nonexistence, inhabiting our consciousness for the several seconds it takes us to read this terrifying news on our computer screens or in the pages of a newspaper.

But in fact none of the people who have died at the hands of neo-Nazis murderers is nameless. None of these people was born in a test tube, bereft of pain, reason, love, attachments, and hope. All of these people were brought into this world by mothers. Each of them had families and friends, people whom they cared about and who cared about them.

This problem, which was long ignored both by Russian society and the Russian authorities, was raised only by the local ethnic communities of the murder victims and by young antifascists, the same people whom lawyer Stanislav Markelov had befriended and defended, the same people in whose ranks journalist Anastasia Baburova (who herself had immigrated from Simferopol, in the Crimea, to Moscow) had stood.

A year ago, on the eve of the first anniversary of Stas and Nastya’s murders, people who had known them united together in the January 19 Committee to commemorate their lives and deaths in a worthy manner, and say a decisive “no!” to neo-Nazi terror. The members of the committee belong to different parts of the Russian social movement, and they have different views of our country’s present and future. And yet on January 19, 2010, they joined around 1,500 other people in an antifascist demonstration in downtown Moscow, braving minus twenty degree weather and active interference on the part of the Moscow police. The demonstrators included both people who frequently protest against the authorities and people who might not have taken part in public protests since the perestroika era. These people were joined by folks who had never participated in a demonstration before: society had begun to recognize the problem of neo-Nazi terror, and caring people were moved to act whatever their age, social status, profession, sex, and so on. The march was joined by students and pensioners, confident middle-aged professionals and poor people who had lost hope of making it, members of the intelligentsia and young workers, all kinds of different people. What united them was a troubled conscience, an intolerance of neo-Nazi murders, and shame for their country and city, a city in which such medieval monstrosities have nearly become a norm of daily life.

As we see now, a year later, this protest was more than timely. It is possible that it happened too late. In any case, the events of December 11–15 in Moscow and other Russian cities have proven that neo-Nazism has not been cowed. Extreme right-wing ideas have struck a chord with large numbers of young people, and these masses of young people, who were badly educated and poorly brought up during the years of the Yeltsin-Putin stagnation, are willing to engage in violence. The half-forgotten, moth-balled Russian word pogrom was heard again: the crowd on Manezh Square was on the point of starting a genuine pogrom, and the crowd that gathered outside Kiev Station four days later was prepared to engage in fighting, stabbing, beating, and shooting.

During those same days, people also asked where the antifascists had been. Why hadn’t they tried to confront the raging neo-Nazis? There are several possible answers to this question. First, why don’t you try to stand in the way of a crowd like that yourself? Second, try organizing resistance to an aggressive crowd of neo-Nazis, people who think nothing about murdering and beating other people, when you have become the target of a harassment campaign (if not a witch hunt) on the part of the authorities. These were the conditions faced by Russia’s youth antifascist movement during the second half of 2010. Police searches, police dragnets at concerts, arrests, and violent interrogations by police who wanted to force testimony from them: this was what being antifa meant in 2010, not educational work amongst young people, cultural events, publishing literature, and even the martial arts and football tournaments that young antifascists had still been able to organize in 2009.

Sensing that the young antifascists were a rising force, the state has thrown the entire weight of its police apparatus against them. Meanwhile, neo-Nazis have been holding their legally sanctioned Russian Marches, convening round tables and posing for journalists in expensive hotels, and continuing to murder the defenseless – janitors, petty laborers, teenagers. While the state was unleashing its dragnet against the antifa, the neo-Nazis were trying to go respectable, to show the authorities and the business world that they could be a source of “order” during a complicated economic and political situation, that they were capable both of doing the dirty work and putting on a fashion show in well-ironed shirts and ties.

This fashion show crystallized on Manezh Square in early December. Judging by the absence of real measures to find and punish the people who organized that riot, certain high-ranking Kremlin officials found it to their liking.

Given this situation, the January 19 Committee declares the need for all people opposed to Russia’s slide into the abyss of nationalism to unite and organize solidarity actions. We live in a huge country, and we are all different. Our country is divided by contradictions, arguments, and discrepancies, and at the end of the day we aren’t obliged to like each other. But we are united on one point: Nazism, which in the twentieth century brought incalculable suffering to our country and other countries of Europe, Asia, and the Americas, is once again blazing a bloody trail. It is too late to say that it must not rise again. It is already rising again, and now we have to talk about how to stop it.

We call on all honest people, people who value the ideals of freedom and justice and just plain normal life in our country, people of different nationalities, religious confessions, convictions, and guiding principles, to join us in an antifascist demonstration in Moscow and other Russian cities.

This will not simply be a memorial action to remember the dead – Stas Markelov, Nastya Baburova, and many, many others. January 19, 2011 must become a day of determination, a day of protest, a day of struggle against the fascist threat in Russia.

Demonstrators in Moscow will gather at 7:00 p.m. on January 19, 2011, at the Timiryazev Monument (near the Nikitsky Gates at the beginning of Tverskaya Boulevard). We will have more information about the route of the demonstration and slogans in the coming days. Check for updates at the January 19 Committee web site:  http://19jan.ru.

Stop neo-Nazi terror! Save Russia from the ultra right-wing threat!

As long as we’re united we can never be defeated!

—The  January 19 Committee

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Hunting the Antifa: How Police Are Obtaining Testimony in the Case of the Khimki Hostages

The article below, which we have translated from the original Russian, explains in great detail how Russian law enforcement officials have been constructing their case against the Khimki hostages, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov. It is our hope that after you read this you’ll be moved to do what you can to help secure their release.

We now know for certain that another pretrial custody hearing in the case has been scheduled for September 27. So it is imperative that you go now to khimkibattle.org and find out what you can do to support them. The faxes and e-letters you send in the next few days will be crucial in deciding whether Alexei and Maxim remain behind bars or are set free.

________

http://newtimes.ru/articles/detail/26767

Hunting the Antifa

How the Police Obtain Testimony by Force

Alexander Pakhotin

Hunting the Antifa. They introduce themselves as FSB agents. They detain young people and force them to testify about the riot in Khimki and demand that they sign cooperation agreements. Several victims of this police abuse have already sent complaints to Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chayka. The New Times has found out about the methods the siloviki are using to achieve their ends.

“When I said I didn’t know anything, they began beating me in the area of my liver and then my kidneys. I told them that I’ve suffered from a heart defect and hepatitis C since childhood, that there are problems with my liver, but they smiled in reply. One of them slammed my head against the table,” recounted 25-year-old Alexander Pakhotin of his interrogation at the police station in the Moscow suburb of Zhukovsky.

A Cage for Detainees

On August 21, antifascist Alexander Pakhotin arrived in the town of Zhukovsky with a large group of young people on a commuter train from Moscow. They were planning to attend a charity concert there. As he explained to The New Times, the concert did not take place that day. Instead, seventy people were detained by police without explanation and taken to the Zhukovsky police station.

According to Pakhotin, police officers copied down the young people’s personal information right in the police station courtyard. They were then herded into a large cage that had been set up outside. When Alexander approached the cage to find his friends, unidentified plainclothes officers grabbed him by the arms and took him into the station building.

“They said that I had been involved in the riot in Khimki and that I would do prison time,” Alexander recalls. “I told them I didn’t know anything, but they put me in a holding cell. There were several locals in the neighboring cell, people who had been detained for some kind of disorderly conduct. They tried to frighten me by saying they would piss on me through the bars. Then I was again taken upstairs to an office and the interrogation continued.” Alexander says that he asked for a lawyer, but his request was ignored. Plainclothes officers who identified themselves as FSB operatives showed Pakhotin as photograph taken on July 28 in Khimki not far from the town hall building. (On July 28, 2010, dozens of people in masks threw bottles and rocks at the building. On August 4, antifascists Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov were formally charged with involvement in this riot and remanded to pretrial police custody.)

“There were no people in masks in this photograph,” says the antifascist. “In it, some young woman is standing next to me. They explained to me that I wouldn’t get off with a misdemeanor, that I would be charged with organizing a riot. I really was in Khimki on July 28, but I had gone there for a concert and I wound up near the town hall by accident. My interrogators weren’t satisfied with my answers: they wanted me to tell them that Maxim Solopov (arrested on July 30 – The New Times) and Pyotr Silayev, who is now on the wanted list, participated in the Khimki riot.”

I’ll Cut Off Your Ear

According to Pakhotin, at nine o’clock that evening he was taken to the Khimki police station. “They took me to an investigating officer. The people who had identified themselves as FSB agents were present during the interrogation. The investigator didn’t like how I was answering his questions, and so then one of the officers who had beat me in Zhukovsky placed my head on the table, put a pair of scissors next to my right ear, and said, ‘I’ll cut off your ear right now unless you say what we tell you to say.’ They threatened to take me out into the forest, and since I’m a Belarusian citizen and have no relatives here, no one would search for me.”

After a ten-hour interrogation, Alexander signed what he was asked to sign. Then, at two o’clock in the morning he was taken to the second municipal police precinct in Khimki. Police officers there woke him up at six in the morning and forced him to sign yet another document. As it turned out later, this was the charge sheet for a misdemeanor. It states that at 1:50 a.m. on August 21, at Mayakovsky Street, 13, in the town of Khimki, an inebriated Pakhotin had used foul language, thus disturbing the peace.

Alexander Pakhotin was thus charged with two misdemeanors: first, using foul language on Mayakovsky Street in Khimki on August 21, and second, for participating in an unsanctioned picket of the Khimki town hall on July 28.

The Court Sides with the Antifascist

Alexander finds the charge outrageous. “On the night of August 21 and the morning of August 22 I was in Moscow. I was detained on the afternoon of August 22 in Zhukovsky. But as the lawyers explained to me, the officers at the second police precinct in Khimki backdated my arrest protocol to justify my arrest.”

On August 23, justice of the peace Olga Zabachinskaya of Court No. 258 in the Khimki District of Moscow Region found Pakhotin guilty of “minor disorderly conduct” and fined him 700 rubles [approximately 17 euros]. She also intended to rule on the second charge against Pakhotin that same day. But he requested time to find a lawyer.

A week later, on August 31, justice of the peace Alexander Yatsyk returned a surprising verdict: finding no evidence to corroborate the charge, he declared Pakhotin not guilty of attacking the Khimki town hall.

Now Alexander’s conscience is troubled by the fact that he gave testimony in the investigation of the riot. “They beat the testimony out of me forcibly, but because of me people who are in prison have suffered. That is why I have appealed to Prosecutor General Chayka,” the antifascist told The New Times.

Pakhotin's Complaint to the Prosecutor General

A Signed Agreement to Cooperate

Emil Baluyev does not consider himself a member of the antifa movement. He is an activist in the animal rights movement, and he often takes part in environmental protest actions. Like Pakhotin, he was detained on August 21 in Zhukovsky. “Emil says that he was interrogated by people who identified themselves as FSB officers,” Olga Miryasova, an activist in the Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages, told The New Times. “They were also interested in the details of the riot in Khimki. But on the day of the riot, Baluyev was in Ukraine. During the interrogation he was handcuffed. He was made to bend over and beaten on the head and legs. After that they forced him to sign a cooperation agreement.”

According to civil rights activists, law enforcement officers beat at least ten of the seventy people detained on August 21 in Zhukovsky. Who were these unidentified men in plain clothes that beat the arrestees and also forced some of them to sign cooperation agreements? They did not reveal their last names; they only waved IDs at the detainees and said that they were from the FSB.

One of the detainees recognized a certain Maxim among these men, a person he had seen often at youth protest actions and concerts. This man had videotaped the protest actions of antifascists and environmentalists.

“As far as I’m know, officers from our Department for Extremism Prevention did not interrogate anyone there,” Yevgeny Gildeev, press secretary for the Moscow Region Chief Directorate for Internal Affairs told The New Times. Gildeev was aware of the complaints that antifascists had filed with the Prosecutor General, but he refused to comment on them. Another spokesperson for the Moscow Region police told The New Times in conversation that he did not rule out the possibility that FSB and Center for Extremism Prevention officers had participated in the interrogations. The New Times sent a formal inquiry to the FSB, asking them to inform us whether its officers had participated in the interrogations, but as this issue goes to print we have not yet received a reply from them.

Saving Her Son

Unknown men who also identified themselves as FSB officers searched long and hard for Nikita Chernobayev, a 19-year-old antifascist from the Moscow suburb of Ramenskoye. They went to his mother’s workplace and made inquires about her. On August 26, Nikita was summoned to the local police station on the pretext that he was being drafted into the army. According to lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin, FSB officers were waiting there for the antifascist. Nikita managed to telephone his mother and tell her that he was being beaten. Nikita signed the testimony the men wanted him to sign, as well as a cooperation agreement.

“Nikita told his mother that they hit him in the solar plexus,” says Trepashkin. “They put a plastic bag over his head so that he couldn’t breathe.” Chernobayev was released from the police station at one a.m. The next morning his mother called an ambulance. Nikita was admitted to the Ramenskoye Central Municipal Hospital. According to our information, Mrs. Chernobayeva soon thereafter had her son transferred to a Moscow hospital: a frightened Nikita had phoned her from the Ramenskoye hospital because he saw through the window that that men who had beaten him up at the police station were walking through the hospital courtyard.

Chernobayev's Statement to Russian Civil Rights Activists

In the hospital discharge summary, a copy of which The New Times has obtained, it is stated that Nikita Chernobayev was diagnosed with a closed craniocerebral injury, a brain concussion, bruises, and abrasions to the face.

Nikita’s mother is now preparing a detailed complaint that she will file with the Prosecutor General’s Office.

So this is how the unknown men who identify themselves as FSB officers have been investigating the riot outside the Khimki town hall building. What explains their cruelty towards antifascists? “Earlier, the antifascists stewed in their own juices. They went to concerts and organized protest actions of some sort,” says Olga Miryasova. “In Khimki, they encroached on the authorities for the first time. My guess is that a signal came from the top to deal with them in a serious manner. In any case, a large group of operatives and investigators has been formed to work on the Khimki case. They have to find the guilty parties and witnesses, but that isn’t so easy after all. And while they’re at it, they want to add new information to their database of extremists: all the detainees have been fingerprinted and photographed.”

It is unlikely that a criminal case will be opened against those who interrogated and beat antifascists in Zhukovsky, Khimki, and Ramenskoye. The special agents did not give their last names, and the Prosecutor General’s Office might decide that no one beat up the antifascists, that everything written in their complaints is a product of their wild imaginations or an attempt to escape responsibility.

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The Khimki Hostages Need Your Solidarity!

http://khimkibattle.org

In July and August 2010, as forest fires blazed all across Russia, the French construction company Vinci and its Russian partners were engaged in destroying a forest near the Moscow suburb of Khimki. The town administration backed their actions using a combination of lawlessness and direct violence: forest defenders were attacked both by local police and extreme right-wing thugs. The coordinated actions of grassroots activists have put a temporary halt to construction of a planned Moscow-Petersburg toll highway through the Khimki Forest. However, two active defenders of the forest, antifascists Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, remain in police custody on fabricated charges. In essence, they have been taken hostage by local authorities and police officials. If they are tried and convicted they could face seven years in prison. Meanwhile, police and other law enforcement agencies continue their hunt against other activists, especially those with connections to the antifascist movement.

The next pre-trial detention hearing for the two young men is scheduled for late September. Join our International Days of ActionSeptember 17–20, 2010 – to demand their release. Our main slogans are Freedom for Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov! and End the Persecution of Forest Defenders and Antifascists! For more details, go to our web site.

The Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages calls on people from around the world to fax messages of protest to the Khimki municipal court and Russian law enforcement agencies on September 20, 2010. You can find the details here.

What You Can Do Right Now

1. Repost our appeal and your own opinion about the case on your web site or blog. Forward these texts to friends, comrades, and anyone else you think might want to participate in this solidarity campaign.

2. Write e-mails to international organizations, Russian government officials and the development companies involved in the toll highway project: they all either are in a position to help secure release of the Khimki hostages or bear indirect responsibility for their continued imprisonment. Please take twenty minutes right now to send your letters and petitions to the organizations listed here, as well as to inform your friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Your help might prove decisive in saving the Khimki Forest and its defenders.

3. If you are prepared to help the persecuted activists in other ways or would like to share advice on how to deal with European and Russian official organizations and companies, please write to us at:

info@khimkibattle.orgcollaboration@19jan.ru,19jan.solidar@gmail.comecmoru@rambler.ru

How Things Are Done in Khimki

Since the launch of the project to build a toll highway through the Khimki Forest, the Khimki town administration has become infamous for its gangster-like methods of “working” with local residents. Over the past three years, forest defenders have suffered numerous arrests and other forms of harassment by local police, as well as physical attacks carried out by “anonymous” hired thugs, including neo-Nazis. These actions by the Khimki administration and its partners are explained by the significant commercial interest they have in seeing that the highway construction project is completed. The planned highway would be the first such toll road in Russia, connecting the country’s two largest cities, Moscow and Petersburg. Along with the highway itself, the project includes plans for the construction of service and maintenance infrastructure, hotels, and residential buildings. The project thus promises enormous profits if realized, and that is why its backers are so keen to ignore both the law and the value of individual human lives. The lives and freedom of two forest defenders and antifascists, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, are today threatened. They were arrested and falsely charged in revenge for a spontaneous demonstration that took place outside the Khimki town hall on July 28, 2010. Practically speaking, Alexei and Maxim have been taken hostage. At the same time, the Russian police and other law enforcement agencies have unleashed an unprecedented campaign of persecution directed against all antifascists. In violation of all legal norms, these activists have been forcibly detained and taken in for questioning by police, who have used physical and other methods of coercion to obtain the testimony they want to hear. The police have also conducted illegal searches of antifascists’ apartments. Under such circumstances there can be no doubt that the Khimki administration and the police intend to take new hostages who will join Gaskarov and Solopov behind bars.

The entire story of the Moscow-Petersburg toll road project has been punctuated by threats and dozens of physical attacks against activists, by the arsons of their homes and cars. Mikhail Beketov, editor of a Khimki opposition newspaper, was severely beaten and left for dead. He miraculously survived but he is now confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. The editor of another local newspaper, Anatoly Yurov, has been beaten three times, suffering various injuries, including a brain concussion. The last time he was attacked, he suffered nine knife wounds. Newspaper layout editor Sergei Protazanov was cruelly beaten by persons unknown and died from his injuries the following day. After receiving numerous threats, local civil rights activist Albert Pchelintsev was kidnapped; his kidnappers shot him in the mouth with a pneumatic pistol and threw him out on the street. Albert survived this attacked, but his vocal chords were severely damaged. Pensioner and forest defender Alexander Parfyonov was attacked outside his home; his assailants wounded his arm. Two attempts have been made on the life of activist Vitaly Kapyttsev: an unknown assailant attempted to stab him to death outside Kapyttsev’s home at night, and later a bomb was thrown through his window. Activist Yevgenia Chirikova has been a constant target of crude harassment on the part of the police and attacks by unknown assailants: a person unknown tried to run her over with a car, and her husband has been physically attacked. There has been no official reaction to most of these attacks and in many cases the police have not even opened investigations. Local journalists and activists know of many other instances in which the Khimki administration has broken the law, as well as of its connections with the criminal world and neo-Nazis.

When developers began destroying the Khimki Forest in July 2010, environmentalists, antifascists, and political activists joined local residents in defending it. Although they did not have an official permit to clear-cut the forest, the loggers were guarded by regular police, private security guards, and neo-Nazis. On several occasions, groups of “persons unknown” wearing shirts and other clothing with neo-Nazi logos attacked forest defenders while police stood by. After these incidents, OMON riot police arrested the activists, not the hired thugs. The logging of the forest continued despite numerous petitions, pickets, and demonstrations. That is why antifascists and anarchists carried out a spontaneous demonstration in late June outside the Khimki town hall. During the demonstration, a few windows were broken, and demonstrators spray-painted the slogan “Save the Russian forest!” in two places on the wall. This action was widely reported and discussed in the press. None of the demonstrators was arrested during or immediately after the action in Khimki. But the following day two well-known social activists, Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov, spokesmen for the antifascist movement, were detained by police. Their arrests involved numerous violations of procedure and law: their arrest protocols were drawn up to report that they had been arrested “at the scene of the crime” and absurd “eyewitness” testimony was fabricated against them. Since then, the police have been forcing activists detained for questioning to testify against Gaskarov and Solopov. In the meantime, in the face of growing protests against the destruction of the Khimki Forest, the Russian authorities have conceded that the planned route for the toll highway needs to be reviewed. And yet Gaskarov and Solopov remain hostages of the highway, of the Khimki administration and police officials. They remain in prison as the police and prosecutors fabricate a case against them. If they are brought to trial and convicted as charged, they could face up to seven years in prison.

Find more information in the Prehistory of the Case of the Khimki Hostages

The Situation Is Critical

The safety and liberty of members of the antifascist movement are threatened. They very much need your solidarity. In late September, the Khimki court will again decide whether to keep Alexei and Maxim in prison or release them. We ask you to participate in our campaign to force the Russian authorities to release them and end its witch-hunt against forest defenders and antifascists.

On September 17–20, 2010, protest actions will take place outside of official Russian establishments all over the world. Rallies and other expressions of solidarity will also take place, as well as a media blitz to publicize the situation. September 20 is the proposed day for sending protest faxes to the Khimki court, the Khimki administration, and the Moscow Region prosecutor’s office. You can find details on planned actions, fax numbers, and other updated information on our web site: http://khimkibattle.org/.

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Filed under activism, anti-racism, anti-fascism, open letters, manifestos, appeals, political repression, protests, Russian society

Khimki: Territory of Lawlessness

Background information in the English-language press about the campaign to save the Khimki Forest:

Eco-Defense website (in Russian)

In the following video, Yevgenia Chirikova, leader of the Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest, explains (in Russian) how the planned toll highway could easily be rerouted to bypass the Khimki Forest and how she was recently attacked by a man driving a car with Petersburg license plates.

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www.ikd.ru/node/14200

Khimki, Territory of Lawlessness: Khimki Forest Defenders Arbitrarily Detained at Bus Stop

It seems that in Khimki law enforcement officials have decided to ignore even the appearance of abiding by the law.

Today, August 2, at 12 noon, defenders of the Khimki Forest – approximately 50 peaceful citizens – arrived by bus at the Starbeyevo stop, where they were planning to monitor whether illegal clear-cutting was going on in this area. They had not even managed to assemble when police began detaining them. The first to be arrested were Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin and Left Front and Mossoviet leader Sergei Udaltsov (whom policemen seized with cries of “Let’s get Udaltsov!”).

IKD received this information from Ilya Budraitskis (Vpered Socialist Movement). As he was talking to us by telephone, he was also detained. He is now being taken to an unknown destination along with three other activists. Police have given them no explanations for their arrests.

Around nine or ten people total have been detained – for no reason whatsoever. These people were at the bus stop, far from the alleged site of the logging. Police have blocked the road into the forest. The Khimki Forest has become a territory where lawlessness reigns.

We remind readers that after an official request by Russian State Duma deputy Anton Belyakov, the Prosecutor General’s Office ordered that logging be halted and is conducting a review of the case. However, Teplotekhnik, Inc., the subcontractor, continues its destruction of the forest to make way for a Moscow-Saint Petersburg toll highway, although it does not have all the necessary permits for this work. As the Movement to Defend the Khimki Forest informs us, this firm, subcontracted by the federal corporation Roads of Russia, is headed by Alexander Semchenko, a bishop of the Baptist church and a former adviser to Putin on cooperation with religious organizations.

Moreover, the Russian federal government decree on the clearing of the Khimki Forest, dated 5 November 2009, was not ratified with the Moscow city government, which was obligatory insofar as the forest is part of the capital city’s green belt.  Alexander Muzykantsky, Moscow human rights ombudsman, has filed an appeal in this connection with the prosector’s office, which is reviewing the matter.

The logging of the forest continues all the same, and soon it will reach the homes of Khimki residents. Activists have brought a temporary halt to the razing several times insofar as Teplotekhnik does not have all the necessary permits. At present, the Prosector General’s office is reviewing the legality of its actions. But Teplotekhnik continues to fell the Khimki Forest because they want the money.

Call the Khimki police stations where activists are being held and ask why they have been arrested and when they will be released:

  • Khimki Department of Internal Affairs: +7 (495) 573-0202
  • Khimki Police Precinct No. 2: +7 (495) 573-3747

_________________

STOP POLICE REPRISALS AGAINST ANTIFASCISTS IN RUSSIA!

On July 30, Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov, two antifascist activists, were arrested in Moscow without formal charges of any kind. Maxim and Alexei are well-known public spokesmen of the growing movement of young people against neo-Nazi violence, and in recent years they have done much to expose the connections amongst government agencies, the police, and ultra-rightists in Russia.

Their arrests came on the heels of a series of dramatic events that unfolded in July around protests against the destruction of a forest in Khimki, outside of Moscow. Because they have a stake in clear-cutting the forest to make way for a multibillion-dollar toll highway between Moscow and Petersburg, big business and state bureaucrats have unleashed a full-scale campaign of violence against the local residents and environmentalists who make up the protest group. On July 23, their peaceful camp in the forest was brutally attacked by private security guards and a gang of ultra-rightist football hooligans hired by the construction company, while the police stood by, demonstratively refusing to intervene. The attacks against protesters continued during the week of July 26, along with the clear-cutting of the Khimki Forest, one of the largest green belts near Moscow.

On July 28, a group of radical antifascists estimated to number around 400 staged a symbolic action against corporate, police and neo-Nazi lawlessness by throwing smoke bombs at the building of the Khimki municipal administration, which bears direct responsibility for the situation that has developed around the forest.

The action was carried out in a matter of minutes, and so police were unable to respond in time and arrest any of the attackers. Despite the fact that they had no information about the identities of the people who participated in the action, the following day the police detained and searched the flats of people whose only crime is that they publicly express their antifascist and anti-capitalist stance. In addition, two journalists who photographed and videotaped the action on July 28 were also detained.

According to press reports, “solving” the case of the attack on the Khimki administration building has been made a priority at the very top, by the Russian Presidential Administration, which will now attempt to find the guilty parties whatever the cost. Knowing the tactics of the Russian police and secret services, we have no doubt that psychological and physical methods of coercion, including torture, might well be used in the current investigation, especially because investigators presently do not have a single piece of evidence that would link Alexei and Maxim to the attack.

It is no exaggeration to say that the future of the antifascist movement in Moscow depends on the outcome of this case. Police officials have already told the press that “it’s time to put them in their place” and smash this growing movement, which is not controlled by the authorities.

We call on all leftist and worker activists, antifascists and environmentalists to protest the police reprisals against Alexei and Maxim.

WHAT CAN YOU DO NOW?

1. Send protest letters or make calls to the following addresses and phone numbers:

Moscow Region Prosecutor’s Office
Malyi Kiselnyi per., d. 5
107031 Moscow
Russian Federation
news@mosoblproc.ru
Khimki Prosecutor’s Office
ul. Mayakovskogo, d. 30
141400 Khimki, Moscow Region
Russian Federation
+7 (495) 571-6235
Khimki Department of Internal Affairs
(current location of detainees)
ul. Gogolia, d. 6
141400 Khimki, Moscow Region
Russian Federation
+7 (495) 572-0202 (Duty Officer)
+7 (495) 572-1209 (Administrative Office)

2. Submit protest letters to the Russian Federation embassy or consulate in your area or, better yet, organize protest actions outside embassies demanding the immediate release of Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov.

3. Send an online letter to the Russian president.

4. Distribute this information as widely as possible.

Campaign Facebook Page: Freedom for Russian antifascists Alexei Gaskarov & Maxim Solopov!

__________

[Editor’s Note: We have adapted the following blog post to make it more readable.]

community.livejournal.com/himki_protest/3338.html

Moscow / Khimki: The Battle with the Adminstration Heats Up

In recent days, the battle to stop the destruction of the forest in the Moscow suburb of Khimki has heated up. Activists have been protesting the building of an $8 million high-speed toll highway between Moscow and Petersburg. This highway would destroy beautiful forestland around Moscow. Environmentalists say the highway can be built to bypass the old oak forest.

The flashpoint has been in the city of Khimki, right outside Moscow. There is a history of violence sponsored by the local authorities in this town. In the most famous case of political terrorism, in November 2008, Mikhail Beketov, outspoken editor-in-chief of the local newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda (Khimki Truth), was savagely beaten in front of his home. The attack was clearly related to his criticism of local authorities and the planned highway. As a result of his injuries, one of his legs was amputated, and head traumas he suffered during the attack have left him unable to speak. Current reports on his condition indicate that his other leg may have to be amputated.

Khimki authorities thus have a reputation for dealing brutally with anybody who dares oppose them.

Direct actions started on July 14, when the logging was to begin. Eco-activists set up a camp in Khimki to take direct action against the deforestation. They have employed blockades on the train lines leading to the logging site.

On July 23, at about 5 a.m., the protestors and two journalists were attacked and beaten by a gang of several dozen thugs with white T-shirts masking their faces. From all indications, this was an organized group of neo-fascists, judging by the symbols on their shirts. The police arrived and began arresting the activists, not the attackers, which indicates that this was an attack carried out in coordination with the police. Security guards hired by the firm carrying out the destruction of the forest also took part.

15 people were arrested at that time. Later in the day, the police arrived again, taking away dozens of people.

When some activists tried to protest in front of the White House in Moscow against construction of the highway and the illegal destruction of the forest, they were also immediately arrested.

On July 28, a large group of people (most reports put the numbers between 400 and 500) marched on Khimki. Some of them (70-100 people) attacked the local administration building. This is shown in the videos below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KBYKd8W6p8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqQFtJMBPbс

Our Friends Have Been Illegally Arrested

On the morning of July 29, antifascist Alexei Gaskarov was summoned to the local police station for a conversation.  There he was handed over to Extremism Department officers and taken away to an unknown destination. Most of the provisions in the law that stipulates operating procedures for the police were violated. None of his relatives was informed, and no notice was served to state the reasons for the arrest. That same evening, antifascist Maxim Solopov was called in for a conversation near the Okhotny Ryad metro station after he appeared on a Russian News Service radio broadcast. Maxim went to the meeting spot but no conversation took place. He was put into a car and taken to Khimki. During the night, the flats of Gaskarov and Solopov were searched. Alexei Gaskarov’s flat was searched without a warrant or other required papers being served, without the confiscated items being inventoried and without a neutral witness present to certify the search [as required by Russian law].

We clearly understand why it was Alexei and Maxim who were arrested. They are well known in public and take the risk and responsibility of being publicly open. They have never concealed their identities, speaking on the record in the press and on the radio. They were arrested because they are the only antifascists well known to the police. The police are now under pressure from the presidential administration to solve the case: that is why someone had to be arrested.

As Alexei’s and Maxim’s faces are known to the police and mass media, it would have been quite stupid of them to take part in violent actions.

We clearly understand that to ask for their release is to cry for the moon no matter how hard we long for it. We appeal for the observance of law, although this institution in our country is violated by the guardians of the law themselves. We demand that the legal proceedings against our friends not be turned into a show trial. We demand that the mass media be allowed access to the proceedings. We demand that the authorities abide by their own laws.

We know that we have the truth on our side and that we will win the day.

On July 31, the first closed court proceedings on the case took place in Khimki. Nobody was allowed into the courtroom. The building was surrounded by groups of riot police officers and water cannon trucks, and a number of ambulances and police cars were parked in the vicinity. Because Alexei and Maxim had already been in custody for 48 hours, formal charges should have been brought against them, but they still have not been formally charged with any crimes, and the court hearing was postponed until Tuesday, August 3, with the judge qualifying the case as a “tough” one.

It has also come to light that their arrest reports state that Alexei and Maxim were detained at the crime scene, which contradicts the police’s original statement that no one was arrested after the incident outside the Khimki administration building. This suggests that the cases against them are being fabricated.

We are disturbed by how the case is proceeding and would appreciate any international support.

Funds are being raised to pay for Alexei and Maxim’s legal defense, and your help would be critical here. Please go to the links below to transfer money:

WebMoney

R113104516303 — rubles
Z170280498291 — USD
E318901103117 — Euro

Яндекс.Деньги

41001434285763

A regular bank account will be opened as soon as possible. More information to follow.

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January 19 Anti-Fascist Demo in Moscow: Video

Here is a short compendium of video footage of the January 19 march against neo-Nazi terrorism in Moscow and other videos connected with that action. Thanks to Vlad Tupikin for assembling and posting these in his LiveJournal blog, as well as providing the following annotations to each video (which we have adapted slightly). We apologize for the lack of subtitles throughout.

Memorial Video about Stanislav Markelov


This video was edited specially for screening at the demonstration on January 19, 2010. The authorities did not give organizers permission to set up a screen and a video project at the demonstration, however. This video is also accessible on the January 19 Committee website.

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January 19 Anti-Fascist Demo in Moscow: Eyewitness

Here are six eyewitness accounts of the January 19 demonstration against neo-Nazi terror in Moscow. We gratefully borrow here a few of the excellent photos taken at the event by keltea and mnog.

keltea.livejournal.com/862844.html

SOVA Center

First and most importantly, despite organizational problems and the freezing weather, this action was the most massive non-political antifascist event since 2005.

Second, the authorities achieved an acceptable compromise with the organizers (given the current practice of bans), but the actions of the police at the event provoked disorders. Those police apparently did not have orders to resort to harsh measures, however, and so the clashes did not escalate into an attempt to disperse the demonstration.

Oleg Orlov (chair, Memorial)

But at the end of Petrovsky Boulevard, at Trubnaya Square, fresh police cordons stopped the demonstrators. Here stood OMON units. Again the police called over megaphones for people to fold up their banners. Young people chanted something in reply. But there were no attempts to break through the cordon. More than that, I saw people began to fold up their banners. It was at this moment that the OMON special units drove a wedge into the crowd. They pushed people onto the ground, beat them, dragged them and detained them. And they didn’t just detain those who were holding placards or chanting something. In this way Sergei Krivenko and Alik Mnatsakanyan were detained. They tried to seize Misha Mazo, a member of Memorial who was standing next to me – possibly just for holding a portrait of one of those murdered in his hands.

In total 23 or 24 people were detained and taken to Moscow’s Tverskaya district police station. It’s possible there were other detainees (there were accounts that some had been taken to Basmanny district police station, but the accuracy of these reports is uncertain).

In my view there was no need for actions of this kind by the police. If one group of demonstrators did indeed conduct a small march without official sanction, it was exclusively along the Boulevard and in doing this they caused no interference to anyone. They were blocked in, and had no possibility to enter Trubnaya Square. No attempts were made to break out. And what’s most important, the participants began to fold up their banners and so on. Moreover, it may be that the police officers in charge viewed the actions the police were taking as a form of punishment of the demonstrators, which is absolutely against the law.

Svetlana Gannushkina (Civic Assistance; Memorial)

When they finally set foot on the boulevards, the demonstrators rushed to catch up with those who had left [the site of the first picket] ahead of them. But that was not going to happen: in the middle of the boulevard they were met by a column of gallant lads in uniform and wielding sticks, who blocked the path for each new group and “delayed” it for a time. When I found myself face to face with a policeman I asked:

“What, you’re not letting us through?”

“We’re letting people through in groups,” he explained.

The sense of his words became clear to me when I heard someone rudely shout into a megaphone:

“Let’s fold up the banners! Let’s get back on the sidewalk!”

Since the police didn’t have banners, I realized that this first-person plural command was addressed to participants of the picket. This entire absurd action, in which several hundred police officials took part, was organized so that the event wouldn’t look like a march.

[…]

What happened? Why did the police have to incite a riot? Who gave the order to break up this commemoration and turn it into bedlam?

The protesters chanted, “Fascism shall not pass!” Is this really true?  I am left with a bitter feeling in my heart.

Nikolay Oleynikov (artist, Chto Delat workgroup)

I have to record what I saw before it’s forgotten. It made a vivid impression on me because I was standing directly nearby when the incident happened. Now I’ve had a look at media accounts, and there are mistakes and inaccuracies in nearly all of them.

The incident I have in mind is the stupid provocation undertaken by two policemen. They were between thirty and forty and wearing epaulettes. I’m not sure since I didn’t get a close look, but I think they had the rank of major or something like that. That is, they weren’t rookies, but they were completely brainless. What fools they made of themselves!

The members of the [January 19 Committee] were standing under the monument to Griboyedov. One of them, whom I know personally, gave a short introduction. He said something to the effect that we were going to show a video, but at the last minute we got turned down on that request. Now the members of the committee will read aloud a brief proclamation. After this there will be a minute of silence, and then committee members will hand out candles and you can place them at the foot of the monument. Then the demonstration will be over. Thank you for coming out in such numbers.

That was all he said.

The next speaker pulled out the text of the proclamation and began reading it. This is when those two courageous provocateurs showed up and surrounded this guy who was reading the text. One of them then ripped the text from his hands. This committee member managed to say [into the megaphone], “A policeman has just ripped the text of the proclamation from my hands.” Right after this the second policeman then violently snatched the megaphone from the committee member, and both policemen grabbed him and, I think, tore the coat he was wearing. When they heard the words about the text being ripped from the speaker’s hands, people standing there really snapped. They got the speaker out of the clutches of the police and continued to advance on them. The provocateurs backed off. Then they tore down the fence at the back of the picket site and moved onto Chistoprudnyi Boulevard. This is where the crossfire began: activists threw snowballs, while the cops fired warning shots into the air.

That is what happened.

But there really were tons of decent folks at the action. It seemed like everyone there was one of our people, that we had all come together in the same place at the same time, and in minus twenty weather! It was all good.

Gazeta.Ru

At the twenty-minute mark of the march, when the first column had succeeded in descending the hill to Trubnaya Square, someone on the sidewalk threw smoke grenades at the activists. Smoke shrouded the streets and the activists. And so, their faces wrapped in scarves to shield them from the minus twenty temperatures and police video cameras, the 15- to 20-year-old antifascists made their way to Chistye Prudy. Here the organizers had planned to show a four-minute video clip featuring one of Markelov’s last speeches, but a few hours before the march the police had forbidden them to show the video. The activists held up photographs of the murdered lawyer and journalist, posters, and antifascist banners. Amongst the crowd Yabloko party leader Sergei Mitrokhin, former party leader Grigory Yavlinsky, Left Front coordinator Sergei Udaltsov, and Solidarity executive director Denis Bilunov gave interviews to the press. Chief Russian human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin also came to the demonstration.

An activist who had concealed half his face beneath a scarf began the demonstration. “Stanislav Markelov took on hopeless cases his whole life. In the courts he represented the relatives of murdered antifascists, the relatives of ordinary Chechens kidnapped and murdered by federal troops. He defended people who had been beaten by the police. He defended leftist activists tried for political offenses. In short, he was not merely a lawyer, but also a civil rights activist.”

“Nastya chose journalism as a field of close social contact with people, as field where one could actively intervene in the life of the society, and that is why she entered Moscow State University. During the last year and a half of her life you could find her at [protests] at illegal construction sites and evictions, at ‘wild,’ unsanctioned demonstrations, at all the local trouble spots in Moscow. There is also nothing surprising about the fact that she took up the topic of Nazi violence.”

The antifascist’s speech could be heard only in the front rows of the crowd — the authorities had also forbidden the organizers to use an amplifier and speakers.

The member of the oppositional January 19 Committee, which organized the action, continued to list the merits of the lawyer and journalist who perished a year ago, when suddenly an arm appeared from out of the crowd and ripped the text of his speech from his hands. The activist managed to get out, “Police officers have just confiscated…,” before someone grabbed his megaphone.

The demonstrators began chanting, “Shame! Shame!” In response the police began pushing them back from the boulevard, and men in grey coats [i.e., the police] began grabbing for the speaker. That is when the demonstrators joined arms to form compact ranks and advanced on the police.

Thus began a massive fight with the police in downtown Moscow.

First the antifa and their supporters fought off the police from dragging the activist who had been leading the demonstration only a few minutes before into a police van. After throwing the metal barriers and pushing police back, the column of antifascists set off down Chistoprudnyi Boulevard. Several hundred antifascists marched ahead, their comrades pushing them forward from behind, and the police had no choice but to give way. After the column had advanced several dozen meters, the police officers got their bearings, and helmeted and baton-wielding OMON troops charged in to rescue their confused colleagues. Special weapons were brought into play: the antifascists who had become cut off from the main column choked on pepper spray that was sprayed on them either by police officers or by unknown provocateurs. (According to Lev Ponomarev, head of the movement For Human Rights, four people were detained with pepper spray canisters.)

The police began detaining the antifascists. They were pushed to the ground, dragged face down through the snow, and tossed over the barriers. Twenty-four people were detained on Chistoprudnyi Boulevard. The antifascists managed to free several comrades on their own. Another portion of the detainees were freed in exchange for a promise made the civil rights activists. Lev Ponomarev gave his word to General Vyacheslav Kozlov, deputy head of the Moscow police force, that the antifa would disperse if their comrades were released. The promise was fulfilled, and the general also kept his word: the detainees were released from the police vans and buses. The remaining detainees (thirty to forty people, according to various sources) were released later in the evening.

Ilya B. (Vpered Socialist Movement)

What happened on January 19 in Moscow is really quite important, and not only because this was probably the largest mass street action in recent years. And not only because a new culture of street politics, a culture of resistance, was born before our very eyes and with our participation. On January 19, Russian Nazis suffered a real defeat. Of course, this was not a final or decisive defeat, but it was the first serious, palpable defeat for them. This was primarily a moral defeat. Their claims to street hegemony were countered in a genuine way for the first time. Their Sieg-Heiling marches, terror, and provocations were opposed by a mass force, a force that declared its existence at the top of its lungs on January 19. And it was and is only for the sake for this supremely important political goal that it is worth making any tactical compromises and forming the broadest coalitions. Despite the absence of political symbols and slogans [as agreed on by the organizers], the spirit of the demonstration was unambiguously leftist, anti-capitalist, and anti-systemic. I think this was obvious to all who participated in the demonstration.

One other important intermediate result was the obvious tactical defeat suffered by the police, yet another testimony to the growing crisis of the entire modern Russian law enforcement system. The police’s stupid provocations, uncoordinated actions, and the ineffectiveness and absurdity of their constant attempts to interfere with the demonstration revealed their dumb anger and fear (which in this particular situation was almost groundless), but not their will to break up the demonstration in an organized way.

In Germany, for example, the police are a thousand times more effective against demonstrators. Their main idea is to divide protesters — to isolate those more inclined to violence, while showing courtesy and respect to everyone else’s right to protest as circumscribed by the law. In Russia (and January 19 was a vivid illustration of this), the police act in a directly opposite manner: they anger, radicalize, and incite to resistance those who come to protests in a peaceable frame of mind. All this is not a matter of one-off miscalculations or a lack of professionalism [on the part of the police], but evidence of the ever-deepening demotivation of the system. But it is another (large and complicated) question, what positive aspects there are to this process and what dangers it holds in store for us.

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The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks (In Memory of Stas and Nastya)

The Museum of Political History of Which No One Speaks

On January 19, we opened a street-art exhibition on the outer wall of the State Museum of Political History (the former Kschenssinska mansion) in Saint Petersburg. The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of our friends the civil rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We didn’t pick this spot by accident. Official sources have made it a habit of not talking about the key moments in the real political history of recent years. It is precisely this history that is silenced nowadays: the history of the formation of an authoritarian state with a fictitious constitution; the history of the leveling of fundamental democratic freedoms; and, of course, the history of continuous political murders.

A text on the façade of the museum explains that its mission includes the formation of political culture in contemporary Russia. It is impossible to say what this means when people in Russia have practically no way to hold public demonstrations (that is, of course, if they are not members of the officially recognized ruling party) and are deprived of freedom of speech because of the state’s total control of the mass media and increasing censorship of the Internet. The state endlessly spouts aggressively militarist and Russian Orthodox/great power rhetoric, and certain of its elected and appointed officials lend support to neo-Nazi organizations. (We should at very least recall here the cooperation between the pro-government organization Young Russia and the neo-fascist organization Russky Obraz.) And these neo-Nazis then murder and maim people on our streets almost daily.

Exactly a year ago, the well-known lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the anarchist journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in downtown Moscow. During the past year the authorities have allegedly succeeded in identifying the criminals who did this, leaving it for us to decide the bigger question of who besides them would profit from the murder of a lawyer who exposed the criminal policies of the state in Chechnya and defended political activists and antifascists.

Traditional political actions no longer attract people today. That is why we chose the form of political protest that, in our view, is the most effective and original — street art.

On a huge (seventeen-meter-long) print poster we have depicted the most inglorious moments and the most significant personalities in the political history of recent years: Russian army colonel Yuri Budanov, a convicted murderer and rapist; the neo-fascist philosopher and state ideologue Alexander Dugin; police major Denis Yevsyukov, who gunned down several shoppers at a Moscow supermarket last year; antifascist Alexei Olesinov, who was convicted and sentenced to prison on false charges; lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented the family of the victim in the Budanov case and defended Olesinov and other political activists; and the journalist Anastasia Baburova.

We dedicate our action to Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova because we believe that their lives and their deaths are important parts of contemporary Russian political history.

— Autonomous Action-Petersburg & the Anarchist Artists of Petersburg

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