Tag Archives: Russian antifascism

Timur Kacharava Street

cherno-sliv.livejournal.com

Timur Kacharava  Street

November 13 is the sixth anniversary of Timur Kacharava’s murder by neo-Nazis [in downtown Petersburg]. Timur was a social and humanitarian activist, an antifascist and musician. His murder was a planned, demonstrative act on the part of the neo-Nazis. As often happens in such cases, far from all of the people guilty of Timur’s murder have been brought to justice.

On the eve of this anniversary, Petersburg antifascists carried out an action in memory of their slain comrade. They renamed Kolokolnaya Street — which is not far from the traditional site of the Food Not Bombs actions Timur was involved in — Timur Kacharava Street.

We must preserve the memory of people who have perished in the struggle for freedom and equality.  We didn’t begin to ask the authorities permission to do what we did, because we have no illusions about their stance. For many years now, the state and its propaganda machine have done nothing but incite ethnic hatred and enmity. Law enforcement agencies — the police and the special anti-extremism police (Center “E”) — support, often quite openly, the neo-Nazis and persecute opponents of fascism. The courts deems fascists and nationalists a “social group” and bring criminal charges against antifascists for inciting hatred against them.

Six years have passed since Timur’s death.

We remember.

We continue the struggle.

We will be victorious!

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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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Nikolay Oleynikov: The Urgent Need for Struggle (Moscow)

Nikolay Oleynikov
The Urgent Need for Struggle
May 12—June 1, 2010
Paperworks Gallery (Winzavod, Moscow)

At 2:00 p.m. on May 12, concurrent with the exhibition opening, there will be a presentation of the zine “The Urgent Need for Struggle” at Paperworks Gallery. A joint publication of Chto Delat, the Free Marxist Press, the January 19 Committee, and Paperworks Verlag, the zine features texts and artwork by Artemy Magun, Oxana Timofeeva, Maxim Stepanov, Paolo Virno, Christina Kaindl, Alexander Bikbov, Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer,  Władysław Szlengel, Kirill Medvedev, Darya Atlas, Keti Chukrov, and Nikolay Oleynikov. The presentation will also include a roundtable with talks by Ksenia Poluektova-Krimer, Kirill Medvedev, Maxim Stepanov, Alexander Bikbov, and Vlad Tupikin, and a discussion with zine authors and activists.

The revanchism of ultra-rightists on our streets, in the corridors of power, on the pages of newspapers, in university lecture halls, and at art exhibitions does not allow us to consign antifascism to the archives of the past century.

We are in solidarity with the prisoners who rose against the Nazis in Sobibor and the Warsaw Ghetto, with the struggle of Soviet soldiers, the anarchists and POUM militants of Spain, the heroes of the French and Italian Resistance, the Yugoslav partisans, and the victims of Pinochet’s reign of terror.

We do not believe that their heroism should be relegated to the ghettoes of ethnic, state, party or subcultural memory. We do not believe that the historical contradictions between antifascists in the past should divide us today. Historical memory belongs to everyone who is prepared to apply it in their lives and share it with others.

We do not perceive fascism either as an abstract, supernatural evil or a manifestation of perennial human vices. Historically, fascism of all stripes has been generated by a system that has particular features and a specific name. This system is capitalism. Fascism is born when dialogue about specific social ills and contradictions is replaced by a discourse that preaches the primacy of strength, success, and manifest destiny, and the inviolability of social, ethnic and all other boundaries and hierarchies, which are alleged to be God-given or natural. We believe that there is no such thing as God-given or natural inequality.

We know of only one boundary, that between right (that is, hierarchy, whether conservative, national-socialist or market-fundamentalist) and left (that is, equality as the ultimate horizon and the concrete steps that lead us towards this horizon).

We see the urgent need for struggle, including in the realms of culture, art, and knowledge. We must ensure the continuity of antifascist theory and practice.

—The Editorial Board

____________

Here is the conclusion to the lead article in “The Urgent Need for Struggle.”

Artemy Magun: “What Is Fascism and Where Does it Come From?”

[…]

In today’s Russia, fascism is not (thank God) the dominant ideology or political force. That force is conservative liberalism. Fascism, however, is still on the political agenda in Russia. The powers that be simultaneously fear it, use it to frighten the liberal opposition, and flirt with it.

First, Russia not only has smallish ultra-rightist youth gangs, but also popular fascist intellectuals – in particular, Alexander Dugin and Geidar Djemal. These men do not label themselves fascists (although Dugin did use this word in reference to himself during the nineties). Typologically, however, their texts belong to the fascist “family.” Their rhetoric is deliberately mannered and often does not withstand rational critique. For all the eclecticism of this rhetoric, its content boils down to certain invariants: mystical/eschatological scenarios, the imperialistic propaganda of war on the part of groups and countries subjugated at present (“Eurasia” or the Islamic proletariat), etc. Both thinkers combine appeals to the downtrodden with the propaganda of authoritarian obedience. These texts remained popular among readers for a time, provoking neither moral nor political “censorship” in a country where the consequences of World War Two have not been analyzed from the viewpoint of morality, and where the social consensus is ideologically right-wing. Today, however, Dugin’s ideas are being realized in practice in the “International Eurasian Movement” he heads and within other radical right-wing groups. They are employed to justify direct violence against outsiders (moreover, not non-Russians as such, but certain groups that are incompatible with Dugin’s notion of “Eurasia”). And yet at the same time, Dugin has served as an adviser to the speaker of the State Duma, was recently (in 2008) appointed a professor in the sociology department at Moscow State University, and is frequently invited to lecture at Saint Petersburg State University.

Second, surrounding the flagrant fascism of Dugin or Djemal there is a large zone that we might call fascizoid. It generates a climate in which the texts and gestures of such writers are perceived as comme il faut. As early as the late nineties, a manipulative attitude to political texts and ideas (“political technology”) took root in society, and there emerged an especially cynical style of aggressive rhetoric that did not hide the fact that it was purely demonstrative and sought to impress its audience by virtue of its effectiveness. Vladimir Zhirinovsky was probably the first to “invent” this style. It later came to be widely employed, for example, in the “war” waged on Russian television channels in 1999 (Sergei Dorenko’s style), and is to this day typical of the extremely aggressive nationalistic rhetoric of Mikhail Leontiev (on the “However” program). Moreover, in both cases we are dealing with journalists who were previously liberal and analytical in terms of their style. The ongoing Chechen war and contradictions in Russia’s foreign relations made it possible to engage in this rhetoric of violence with a relative amount of legitimacy. At the same time, this rhetoric services the subject who is “liberated” from ideology but is fundamentally passive. This subject is unwilling to give up those little things that fuel his subjectivity (apartment, education, recognition of his class), but wants somehow to express both his own ego and his frustration with the emptiness that prevails around him.

The aestheticization of violence was also characteristic of popular culture during the nineties (as typified, for example, by such films as Brother, Brother-2, and Brigada). In addition, as early as the stagnation period, a huge interest in mystical and occult theories and practices of all kinds emerged within society, including amongst the intelligentsia. This interest boomed during perestroika, thus coinciding with the popularity of the commercialized New Age in the western media.

Whereas during the nineties the rhetoric of violence, nationalism, and occultism were mostly ludic, aestheticizing, and, at the same time, manipulative in character, in the following decade, after Vladimir Putin came to power, they came to be taken more seriously: although the degree of its violence decreased, this sort of rhetoric became more widespread amongst public figures. Putin himself has frequently exploited it by as it were “breaking loose” from officialese (e.g., “We’ll wipe out [the Chechen terrorists] in their outhouse,” “If you want to become an Islamic radical and have yourself circumcised, I invite you to come to Moscow,” etc.) and publicly humiliating his underlings. Moreover, during the past decade, aggressive nationalism has practically become Russia’s official ideology. True, this nationalism is not ethnic in character and rarely leads to outright militarism. Nevertheless, it is one of the central rhetorical genres of public life (as exemplified in stories about the intrigues of the country’s enemies and the stupidity of politically correct Americans).

In short, a certain fascizoid context exists in Russia today. Given this atmosphere, acute socioeconomic disruption and failed liberal-democratic reforms could fortify the fascist movements and their alliance with the authorities. We could describe this context as a set of popular mindsets and particular facts that the society regards as legitimate and tolerable (at very least). These include a manipulative and cynical attitude to all ideas; a desire for “myths,” which allegedly need to be deliberately produced (many liberally minded intellectuals share these first two attitudes); the aestheticization of violence and violent rhetoric; a nationalistic xenophobia triggered by a sense that the country has been humiliated; and, finally, the presence of quasi-legal paramilitary youth groups. Whereas it is the police who should combat these radical right-wing gangs (something it does not do), it is the job of all citizens, especially intellectuals in their workplaces, to struggle against the overall context. We must strive to create an atmosphere in which fascism or semi-fascism ceases to be comme il faut. But we cannot achieve this with ordinary political correctness or liberal moralism. They are part of the problem, not the solution. It is likewise counterproductive to excessively generalize the notion of fascism, apply it to all non-liberal tendencies, and demonize our opponents.

We can achieve this [de-fascisization of public discourse] by involving people in a concrete democratic discussion of our country’s future, demonstrating the limits of cynicism and egoism, criticizing capitalism, revealing the roots and hopelessness of historical fascism, and seriously enlightening the masses with the aid of philosophy and science (as opposed to positivism, which precisely generates mysticism as its necessary complement). It is only enlightenment from the left, along with the practical struggle to democratize politics and the economy, that can rob fascism of its vulgar charms.

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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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