Tag Archives: Street University

Solidarity with Priama Dija (Kyiv)

[Adapted from the solidarity appeal originally published at lib.com]

Dear Comrades!

We are an independent student union, Priama Dija (“Direct Action”) and we ask for your support.

The case is that for over the last six months, the union has been under unprecedented pressure. Everything started with our series of successful actions (together with other youth organizations) against the establishment of fees for previously free services in the universities, against cutting funds for scholars and against plans to suspend scholarships for students who received even a single grade of “3” (C). Ever since then, the intelligence services, together with the administration of the National Taras Shevchenko University of Kiev, have been carrying out a campaign of pressure against the union’s activists. All available measures are used against them, including intimidation and repression.

During this period:

1) pressure has been used against activists by threatening to sack their parents from work;
2) activists were expelled from the university;
3) intimidation and face-to-face “talks” have been held with anyone who somehow helped us;
4) the intelligence services have engaged in a deterrence campaign against us.

It is worth mentioning that a number of administrators in private conversations made it absolutely clear that they were being “pressured from above.” Some officials have directly called it a “war.” There are those, however, who won’t stop at anything just to keep their positions. Thus, the Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Mr. A.E. Konverskii, stated outright  that he would “crush anyone who would challenge his career into the pavement.” Soon afterwards, even such an insignificant project as the film club in the faculty was closed for no particular reason and without explanation.

The administration also distinguished itself by instructing security guards to prohibit activists from entering the Red (main) corpus of the university, regardless of the legitimate right of free entry for union members.

In general, an atmosphere of total control has been established in “the best university in the country.” Any signs of dissatisfaction are rooted out immediately. Thus the very flickering of a protest against a rise in dormitory fees was brutally suppressed, and the students who initiated this campaign were expelled.

The present state of affairs is connected to an appalling fact. The Kiev National University is virtually run by Vice-Rector V.A. Bugrov, who has also been, according to our information, an SBU officer since 1989. (The SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service, was previously known as the KGB.)

“Vladimir Bugrov: Have a ‘Prophylactic Talk’ with Your Wife!”

We should also mention that the former chief of the SBU, Volodymyr Nalyvaichenko, swore that he had recalled all the agents from institutions of higher education during the “de-KGBization” campaign.

The facts enumerated above constitue a disgraceful precedent for both the University and Ukraine as a whole. The University should stand for the free development of the individual and not for the totalitarian production of security service agents.

We call for your solidarity!

We ask you to send letters of protest to the Ukraine minister of education, the Ukraine parliament’s human rights ombudsman, and the administration of Kyiv University. You may use the following sample letter:

We ask you to intervene in the situation with the student union Priama Dija (“Direct Action”). According to the information we have received, for over six months now pressure has being used against the union by the administration of the Kyiv National University and the SBU (Ukraine Security Service).

Regardless of the official status of the union, representatives of the SBU and the University have taken repressive actions against activists and intimidated all those who are somehow connected to the union. These actions violate the Ukraine  law “On Unions, Their Rights and Guarantees for Activity.” They also violate the Criminal Code of Ukraine (Article 170).

We appeal to you to take action in this situation.

Please mail, fax or telephone your protests to the following officials:

Minister Dmytro Volodymyrovych Tabachnyk
Ukraine Ministry of Education and Science
10, Prospekt Pobedy
01135 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 486-24-42
E-mail: ministry@mon.gov.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 236-10-49

Rector Leonid Vasiliovich Hubersky
Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv
64, Volodymyrs’ka St.
01601 Kyiv, Ukraine
E-mail: stationery@univ.kiev.ua
Fax: +380 (44) 239-33-88

Nina Ivanivna Karpachova
Ukraine Parliament Ombudsman for Human Rights
21/8, Instytutska St.
01008 Kyiv, Ukraine
Telephone: +380 (44) 253-22-03
E-mail: omb@ombudsman.gov.ua

For more information or to tell us about your solidarity actions (including letters), write to: priamadija@gmail.com

Kyiv: Priama Dija Pickets SBU Headquarters

On April 21, the Priama Dija student union picketed the headquarters of the Ukraine Security Service (SBU). Around fifty union activists demanded an end to repressions against students, their parents, and their comrades.

The young people submitted “case files” with information about themselves. They announced that they had decided to make the work of SBU agents easier by submitting a detailed dossier on each activist.

Union activists claim that the SBU agents have engaged in a campaign of coercion against Priama Dija, its members, their parents, and mere sympathizers for over six months. This campaign has been especially intense in the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, where the administration has joined with SBU agents in a campaign against the student union, openly calling it a “war.”

Union activists say that the most underhanded methods have been employed against them. Aside from threatening and expelling students themselves, the university administration has practically taken parents hostage by promising to cause them “problems” and threatening that they will be fired from their jobs.

The protesters demanded an end to all repressions against union activists, their families, and friends, and an internal investigation into the collaboration of SBU agents with the administration of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in its repression of the student union.

Actions in support of Priama Dija also took place in Germany, Poland, Portugal, Russia, and a number of other Ukrainian cities. Earlier, the International Workers Association, trade union organizations in Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Germany, and Venezuela, the International Youth Human Rights Movement, Ukrainian civil rights activists, and a number of Ukrainian student and youth organizations expressed their support for Priama Dija.

______________

On April 22, members of the Committee for Academic Solidarity and the Street University held a series of solo pickets in support of Priama Dija outside the Ukrainian Consulate in Saint Petersburg.

On April 21, two solidarity rallies took place outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow. These were organized, respectively, by Autonomous Action, with support from the Vpered Socialist Movement, Left Front, and the All-Russian Confederation of Labor (VKT); and by the Confederation of Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalists (KRAS).

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May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers (Moscow)

First Open 48-Hour May Day Congress-Commune of Creative Workers. Moscow, April 29–30, 2010

Over the course of the two days, artists, researchers, translators, teachers, curators, union activists, journalists, writers and musicians from all over Russia will take part in round-table discussions, talk-marathons, poetry readings, and concerts. In recent years, the participants have been involved in many artistic and research initiatives that address the social and economic situation of creative workers in contemporary Russian society.

As neoliberalism continues to establish its hold, its ugly manifestations have become a daily reality for all of us. Not only have exploitation and lack of freedom taken on increasingly elaborate forms, but the very resourcefulness and creative potential of artists and researchers are also appropriated and capitalized by employers. It is against this backdrop that the issues raised by the phenomenon of precarious labor have become ever more pressing. It is our conviction that a reassessment of the precarious worker’s position in today’s economic structure calls for joint action in search of a new cultural space and an alternative educational platform outside of and beyond the fraudulent logic of the neoliberal market economy. Alongside the struggle against injustice at the workplace, collective defense of rights within militant trade unions, and street politics, we are now making another crucial step towards a re-examination of our position and, therefore, towards change.

he May Congress builds on and develops the experience of such earlier projects as Drift. Narvskaya Zastava (St. Petersburg—Moscow, 2004–2005), Self-Education(s) (exhibition, Moscow, 2006), 68.08. Street Politics (exhibition, Moscow, 2008), and Leftist Art. Leftist History. Leftist Philosophy. Leftist Poetry (seminar, Nizhny Novgorod, 2009).

The Congress will be organized around two main thematic clusters: LABOR and SELF-ORGANIZATION. The third, practice-oriented section of the congress will take place on the morning of May 1, International Workers’ Day, which celebrates unity and solidarity. Congress participants will take to the streets of Moscow to form their own joyful and creative column.

The Congress will provide modest dorm-like accommodations for its participants on the premises of Proekt-Fabrika (Moscow, Perevedenovsky pereulok, 18).

Scheduled participants/projects: Vpered Socialist Movement; Chto Delat; Translit Almanac; Seminar Group; Street University; From Community to Union; Educational Film Group; Megazine.Biz; Kinote.Info; Keti Chukhrov/Mobile Theater of the Communist; Free Marxist Press; Liberated Marxist Food; Here and Everywhere Studio; Everything That’s Filmed; Institute for Collective Action; Verkhotura and Friends.

You can read texts that have inspired congress participants here (in Russian and English).

If you wish to make a donation to the congress, you may do so in the following ways:

US Dollars: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817840704190003607
Euros: Alfa-Bank Account No. 40817978104980006548
Rubles:
Yandex Money Account No. 41001516866888

For more information, write to: may-congress@yandex.ru

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When One Has to Say “We” (Saint Petersburg)

The Critical Art Laboratory at the European University at Saint Petersburg presents:

When One Has to Say “We”: Art as the Practice of Solidarity

Participating Artists: Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya and Tsaplya); Nikolay Oleynikov (Moscow); Street University; R.E.P. Group (Kiev); Alexander Veryovkin (Samara); Arseny Zhilyaev (Moscow); Babi Badalov and Jacques Crenn (Paris); Marina Narushkina (Minsk/Berlin); Darya Irincheeva; Sergey Chernov (Saint Petersburg); Nina Gasteva (Saint Petersburg); Anton Litvin (Moscow); Right to the City Movement (Moscow); Affinity Group (Saint Petersburg); Extra-governmental Control Commission (Moscow); Radek Community; Chto Delat Collective

along with the many other artists who will participate in a three-month program of seminars, screenings, and workshops that runs until late June 2010.

Curator: Dmitry Vilensky (Critical Art Laboratory at the European University; Chto Delat Collective)

Opening: 7:00 p.m., April 8, 2010

Gym of the European University at Saint Petersburg

Gagarinskaya, 3, Saint Petersburg, Russia

This project is realized as part of the international conference The Politics of the One: The Limits of Fragmentation and the Chances for Consolidation, organized by Smolny Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The European University at Saint Petersburg, and Centre d’amitié franco-russe.

The exhibition is organized with financial support from the Chto Delat Foundation.

We gratefully acknowledge all the artists, volunteers, and friends who have made this project possible through their hard work and trust.

Premises

Many people are familiar with moments in life when it becomes clear that they have to unite with other people to accomplish simple and urgent tasks:

We, the residents of house no. X, demand that the illegal construction next to our house be stopped…

We, the workers of factory X, demand payment of back wages…

We demand an end to neo-Nazi terror…

What do these things have to do with art?

Even people who believe that artists are starry-eyed creatures living in an ivory tower sometimes catch sight of the fact that this tower has long ago been transformed from the tidy space of art for art’s sake into a factory where the majority are relegated (in the best case) to work on the conveyor belt. It thus becomes clear that change is necessary. Otherwise, without the possibility to realize ourselves with dignity, we will suffocate.To make this change happen we have to unite with other comrades, with people who also sense that things are going wrong.

The art system is not situated within the abstract realm of daydreams or the private world of the studio and the gallery. On the contrary, it is part of public life. To change this system we need to be sensitive to the general processes at work in society, and we need to take part in them.

Context

The exhibition is part of the international multidisciplinary conference The Politics of the One: The Limits of Fragmentation and the Chances for Consolidation. The conference is dedicated to forms of solidarity and multiplicity in the contemporary world. The speakers will address issues of contemporary philosophy, as well as collective political practices for transforming the world.

Social connectivity – in particular, sociopolitical solidarity – is in a state of crisis today. Social atomization enables globalization processes, the collapse of collectivist ideologies, and the technologization of state power. The available alternatives include nationalist or fundamentalist authoritarian movements, or bureaucratic attempts to manufacture solidarity on the basis of “constitutional patriotism” or around the figure of a “national leader.” For Russian society, which underwent a massive sociopolitical revolution during the eighties and nineties, social atomization and political apathy are particularly characteristic. People have a hard time cooperating with their next-door neighbors, not to mention finding solidarity with those more distant from them. At the same time, a multitude of small-scale collective initiatives have emerged in Russia. They differ both from traditional Soviet forms and established western practices. Analysis of these initiatives is one of the focuses of both the conference and the exhibition.

Concept

We want to create a public exhibition space that takes the form of a process in which all utterances – graphic works, seminars, film screenings or discussions – produce a context of cooperative co-existence and enter into dialogue with each other, thus accumulating new meanings and generating their own common history.

By relying on its acknowledged autonomous status in contemporary society, art has the capacity for continuous innovation, inquiry, and critique of the forms in which people organize their lives together, and it is these functions that define art’s role in social life. While preserving such generic features as freedom of expression and the constant overcoming of the aesthetic status quo, art is capable of questioning not only the consensus about what it can and should be, but also the basis of this consensus, which is contained in established forms of political agreement and unity.

The logic of this project is bound up with an expanded notion of art and the artist in today’s world. For us, art is not a narrowly specialized activity engaged in by professionals, but one of the principal elements of creative public speech, something that can be practiced by any engaged, passionate human being.

At the same time, we do not advocate an amateur, non-obligatory attitude to art. On the contrary, we believe that if they are willing to take seriously the issue of self-presentation and find unique ways of inscribing themselves into the artistic context, a multitude of creative and activist practices can acquire a completely different but no less important dimension in the process of interacting with a broad spectrum of contemporary art.

Image by R.E.P. Group

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Filed under activism, art exhibitions, contemporary art, protests, Russian society, urban movements (right to the city)

Song of Solidarity: A Video Letter to Artem Loskutov

On June 9, members of the Verkhotura Dance Theater, the Street University, and their friends recorded this “Song of Solidarity” for Artem Loskutov, who was released on his own recognizance from a Novosibirsk jail on June 10.

 
  

Spring has come to the streets, the trees are already in bloom.
And only the lads don’t come to see us,
And only the lads don’t come to see us.
For nowadays they nab the young fellows here, there and everywhere.
For nowadays young fellows,
Artists, the bolder ones,
Are nabbed here, there and everywhere.

It’s moot to ask who is to blame.
Neither the City of  N. nor Center “E” has anything to do with it, it seems.
Neither the City of  N. nor Center “E” has anything to do with it, it seems.
They nab the boys and charge them, and it’s all the same to them.
They nab the boys and charge them,
They force them to confess,
And it’s all the same to them.

Don’t slumber, artist, don’t succumb to sleep.
You are the system’s hostage, a prisoner of the times.
You are the system’s hostage, a prisoner of the times.
Struggle, artist, struggle, don’t confess your guilt.
Struggle, artist, struggle.
You are the system’s hostage.
Don’t confess your guilt.

Lawlessness abounds, and it is impossible to remain silent.
We clench our fists when we hear of fabricated criminal cases.
We clench our fists when we hear of fabricated criminal cases.
Your extremist department is art’s arch enemy.
Your extremist department, on the sidelines, as it were,
Is art’s arch enemy.

We throw aside our paints and brushes, we head into the streets.
When it is forbidden for us to speak, we won’t grow glum.
When it is forbidden for us to speak, we won’t grow glum.
When art is under lock and key, we head into the streets.
When art is under lock and key,
And everyone has forgotten about the law,
We head into the streets.

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New Special Issue: Knowledge in Action

Knowledge in Action, a special joint issue of Chto Delat and the Petersburg Street University is now online!

This issue presents a critical selection of activists today who are consciously continuing the tradition of autodidactic initiatives in direct actions. We would like to place this new local experience of today into the international context of independent educational structures and their history.

The issue features articles by and about the Street University, the War Group, DSPA, the New SDS, Copenhagen Free University, and Universidad Nomada, and inspiring graphics by Max Neroda and R.E.P.

Read it online or download it here.

In the coming week, we’ll also be posting articles from the new issue in this blog.

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New Street University: A Poem of Solidarity and Alienation

Pavel Arseniev: A Poem of Solidarity and Alienation

We remember, we preserve our faithfulness to the event.
Forty years like forty days.

Return to your classrooms:
They are fireproof.
No, a spark will not set them ablaze.
All measures have been taken,
More or less in earnest. Continue reading

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(New) Street University in Petersburg

Street University, 9 March 2008

The following article was originally published (in Russian) on the website of the Forward Socialist Movement. The translator has slightly altered the original text to reflect certain developments that have taken place since the text was written.

◊◊◊◊◊

The (New) Street University, which was founded this year in Petersburg, is one of today’s most interesting and encouraging phenomena in the educational sphere. We asked Pavel Arseniev, one of the participants of the initiative, to tell us about it.

Despite the fact that the current state of education in Russia has provoked bewilderment among many people, until recently students have not organized to defend their rights. The situation at the Moscow State sociology department and the widely covered protest actions by the OD Group have apparently led to nothing, although the protestors took their case to the Public Chamber, where a special commission of experts affirmed the justice of their accusations. Afterwards, it once again became clear that it was both necessary to struggle and that it was impossible to change the situation from top down. The closing of the European University also provoked the ire of students from other universities. The fire inspectors managed to arouse Petersburg’s student population, which until then had mostly been silent and totally amorphous. After hitting the streets with parodic protest actions like the laying of a firehose at the foot of the Lomonosov monument or the folk burlesque play about the closing of “European Aniversity,” the students finally arrived at their natural vocation—education, which, given the fact that the university was closed, also necessarily took to the streets and became a genuinely collective enterprise. Continue reading

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