Tag Archives: Vpered Socialist Movement

Greece: So Close, So Far Away

First, a prime specimen of reactionary brainwashing, on the Russian state channel’s news broadcast:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

http://www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=361326

Greece is again on strike and for the fourth time this year saying no to its government. In any case, today’s strike will not change anything. Wages in the country have been cut, taxes raised. Moreover, by socialists. And this is happening not only in Greece. R0mania, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain: leftist governments as one are doing what is not at all characteristic for them. The financial crisis has dealt a painful blow to the ideas of European socialism. The principle of “work less, make as much money as everyone else” no longer functions.

Along with the economic crisis, Europe is undergoing a crisis of the socialist idea. Several thousand students rioted in the capital of Slovenia. They threw eggs at the police and broke windows at the parliament because, in order to save money, the ruling socialists are taking away their tax breaks and deprived them of free meals.

On the streets of Bucharest, Romanian trade unions brought 60,000 people plus one sheep to protest the centrist government’s plans to slash the pensions and wages of public sector workers, including those of the police who guard the biggest state palace in the world, built by Ceauşescu. “We have ‘enormous’ salaries,” ironically notes a policeman who took part in the demonstrations. “So the government wants to cut them by a quarter. It would be better if the ministers cut their own pay because theirs is enormous. We work day and night, we work overtime, but these hours are not paid. Police from around the country are here today, and we will come back if that is what it takes,” he promised.

Cutting the budget deficit is a condition of the 20 billion euro loan provided by the IMF. And there is every indication that Romania will see a repeat of the Greek scenario, which in Athens today lead to more demonstrations and everything shutting down. “The policies that Greek society has been confronted with are barbaric,” says a participant in the demonstrations in Athens.

All this is being said to Greek’s leftist government. Headed by hereditary socialist Papandreou, it is following the orders it receives from European and international capital. In the very same way Portugal’s socialist prime minister José Sócrates refuses to turn off this path. “The country needs these measures. They are essential and necessary. When a politician does what he should do and takes measures only to alleviate a difficult situation, people should realize that all the efforts that all the people of Portugal will have to make are absolutely necessary.”

“Those who earn more should have to pay more,” declared José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero when commenting on the decision to raise the income tax for rich people. At that moment the Spanish prime minister was speaking in his capacity as leader of the Socialist Workers Party. But trade unions are threatening him with a general strike all the same because at another press conference the very same Zapatero announced that the wages of public sector workers would be cut.

Socialism, after all, is not the name of a party. It is genuine where the economic conditions exist for it. The right is in power in Sweden, but it has not ceased to be the showcase of European socialism. At the municipal level there, it is now being discussed whether to cut welfare payments to chronic alcoholics who refuse treatment.

___________

A kind of response to this taxpayer-financed televised malarkey, here is the Vpered Socialist Movement’s preface to an essay by Olivier Besancenot and Pierre-François Grond (excerpted below):

It is surprising, but the events now under way in Greece, where hundreds of thousands of workers are demonstrating and striking in order to fight back against the harshest attack on their rights and livelihoods in recent decades, provokes only the slightest interest in Russian society. Kremlin talking heads and experts from the ranks of the liberal opposition gloat in unison as they applaud the liquidation of the last remnants of the European social state and pay their respects to courage of the Greek government, which has decided to take necessary “unpopular measures.” The silent [Russian] majority remains silent as always, assuming that the events in distant Greece have nothing to do with them. In fact, today’s Greece is closer to us than ever before. Since the beginning of this year, the Russian government’s menu practically wholly consists of “unpopular measures” prepared according to Greek recipes. Hence the [new] law that will radically cut subsidies to the public sector, and the transition to a new system of wage payments in the state sector, and the ever more persistent declarations about the need to raise the retirement age. Just as in Greece, working people in Russia are being made to foot the bill to save the banks and corporations. Like the Greeks, we turn out to be the main culprits of overblown budget deficits. We are also Greek workers in the sense that we are forced to pay for a crisis caused by the rich.

Today, as never before, we need to feel solidarity — not because it is a noble and beautiful feeling, but simply because we live in one world. A world that is strikingly insane, cruel, and unjust. A world where only the poor suffer. A world that so needs our will to resistance and protest.

___________

An excerpt from Olivier Besancenot and Pierre-François Grond, “We are all Greek workers”:

The Greek measures overwhelmingly approved by EU governments are an attack on social rights. According to the rules of globalised capitalism applied by these governments, Europe is losing ground in its global competition with the United States and emerging countries. Their solution is to regain competitiveness by attacking the standard of living and social protection won in Europe through decades of mobilisation by the workers’ movement.

This means a never-ending race to the bottom. And to think that they promoted the Maastricht Treaty, the EU Constitutional Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty as the building blocks of a Europe based on social justice and social welfare! What utter nonsense, when we compare this rhetoric to the bleeding imposed on the Greeks – at 5% interest, no less! The European banks can continue to grow rich on the Greek austerity plan, although they are the ones most responsible for the global economic chaos. There is nothing humanitarian about the “assistance plan” that has been adopted by the National Assembly. By supporting the government, the French Socialist Party has lined up on the side of finance and not the oppressed.

Though incapable of organising solidarity of any kind, the European Union certainly knows how to profit from a people’s misery. Sarkozy and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have jointly declared that they will rescue the Eurozone by strengthening “budgetary oversight” of states that fail to meet the criteria of the EU Stability Pact. Apparently, in a neoliberal Europe, governments are only allowed to contravene the Stability Pact when they are pumping public money into the banks. Humanity will just have to wait.

Yet, never has there been such an urgent need for a social, ecological and anti-capitalist Europe based on solidarity. None of the current problems can be solved within national borders. We are all Greek workers subject to the same logic. Government debt is the product of 25 years of neoliberalism and tax cuts for the rich – on corporate incomes, capital and shareholder dividends. For 25 years these taxes have been constantly lowered, and yet we are still told that they represent an unbearable burden for employers and the well heeled. No, this crisis is not ours. In Greece, as elsewhere in Europe, we shouldn’t have to pay for it.

__________

Chris Hedges, “The Greeks Get It”:

Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. They know what to do when they are told their pensions, benefits and jobs have to be cut to pay corporate banks, which screwed them in the first place. Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare—the rich versus the poor, the oligarchs versus the citizens, the capitalists versus the proletariat. The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it.

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Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar (Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht)

Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar
Friday 2 July, 10:00 – Sunday 4 July, 10:00
Jan van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, the Netherlands

The Jan van Eyck Academie is hosting Living Politically: A 48-Hour Communal Life Seminar. The Communal Life Seminar is an initiative of the Chto Delat collective and the Vpered Socialist Movement (Russia) as a response to the acute need to establish alternate forms of collectivity. The fundamental principle of this seminar is that its participants constitute a temporary community for the duration of the event. By combining research, creative work and daily living, they are transformed into a commune.

Living Politically will focus on the problem of how to combine theory and art with the militant political life. The Russian philosophers, artists and scholars organising this initiative have invited people from various branches of creative knowledge production, such as design, art, poetry and philosophy, to participate in the seminar.

During the seminar, participants will attempt to answer three questions: How are the practices of various disciplines and their professional production methods conditioned by the political stances and activist practices of artists and researchers? How do the collective appropriation and generalisation of specific scholarly, artistic and activist work shape new models of politicisation? Seminar participants will focus on what ‘living politically’ means for them. Which political categories do they invoke to make sense not only of their own work in research and art institutions, but also of their daily lives? Thus, one theme of the seminar will be the commonalities and differences between contemporary European and Russian types of political subjectivation. The programme includes lectures, performances, discussions and screenings.

Friday 2 July

Nikolay Oleynikov (Moscow)
Why obshezhitie?
— lecture introducing the context of “political/creative living” in Russia over the past decade

Pietro Bianchi (JVE)
The dark side of the communal
— presentation + discussion

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya)
Witness cabinet

franck leibovici (paris)
some musical techniques of political composition
— theoretical performance, collective performance: one would draw a strong link between processes of production of knowledge, systems of (musical, choreographic, scientific) notation and the nature of collectives which perform them. following john cage’s line, one would say that a score should be like the ideal representation of a society in which one would like to live. we will exercise during 48h.

Kirill Medvedev (Moscow)
Poetry as politics
— examples of political, civic and feminist poetry to show how radical work in poetry shapes the revolutionary political challenge

Elena Sorokina (Brussels)
Communism’s afterlife in contemporary art

Filipa Ramos & Andrea Lissoni (Milan/London)
Political action does not produce objects – Parades and the (re)contextualization of the individual subject
— how to insert in the question of Living-Politically a reflection on parades and their possibility to act, inter-act and trigger some new practices between single and collectivity; while trying at the same time to analyse the operations of recontextualization associated with the use of this practice in the context of visual art.

Dmitry Vilensky (St. Petersburg)
Making film politically
— the possibilities for collective work during the shooting and editing of films as well as familiarising participants with the historical background of this approach and the ways it is practically realised today

Alexei Penzin (Moscow)
Sleeping politically
— a nighttime lecture on sleep and the sleeping body as a limit of the rationalization of life in the context of late capitalism, on the relationship between sleep, wakefulness and power, as well as on awakening and political subjectivisation. He will also discuss some early Soviet utopian projects concerning sleep.

Chto Delat & Pietro Bianchi
— night screenings

Saturday 3 July

Elena Sorokina & franck leibovici
performing a document: aerobics reconception (featuring Elena Sorokina)
— In order to answer the question “what does performing a document mean?” we will do some gymnastics in the small hours.

Tzuchien Tho (JVE)
Math politics

Aaron Schuster (Brussels)
Politics of nature: Marxism and psychoanalysis, labour and sex

Oxana Timofeeva (JVE)
Political animal

franck leibovici
mini-opera for non-musicians
— collective performance – concert

Factory of Found Clothes (Gluklya & Tsaplya, Amsterdam/ St. Petersburg) with Andros Zins-Browne (JVE)
Loving-politically
— ballet-dance performance + discussion on relations: We would like to organise a kind of “witness cabinet”: each participant can have a private conversation with us about their problems in personal relations. After summarising all the models in our laboratory, we will find the problem which is common to everybody and based on this knowledge we’ll create a performance piece.

Katja Diefenbach (JVE)
Less than a thing: queer politics and the deconstruction of the fetish

Katja Diefenbach
— night screenings

CONTACT:
Madeleine Bisscheroux
Anne Vangronsveld
Public Programme and Events Coordinators

coordinator.events@janvaneyck.nl
www.janvaneyck.nl
t +31 (0)43 350 37 29
f +31 (0)43 350 37 99

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Free Ainur Kurmanov!

http://www.ikd.ru/node/13296

On April 27, Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan and the public association Talmas (“Tireless”) was sentenced to fifteen days in jail by a court in Almaty.

The reason for Kurmanov’s arrest and illegal detention was the fact that, during an officially permitted demonstration held by the Kazakhstan 2012 movement, he read aloud the text of a petition addressed to the Kazakh authorities which stated that if they did not meet the demands of protesters, protest actions would be carried out all over Kazakhstan.

The response of the authorities was not long in coming. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, policemen detained Ainur Kurmanov without explanation in the offices of the organization Leave Housing to the People. During the so-called trial against Kurmanov, judge Arman Turgunbayev and prosecutor Dauletbayev fabricated a case against him (committing crude legal violations in the process), and Kurmanov was thus sentenced to fifteen days in jail. During the trial the most elementary democratic norms were not observed. The authorities have also promised to subject other members of Kazakhstan 2012 to such kangaroo courts. This is an obvious case of political repression. And all this is happening in a country that currently holds the chair of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan, Talmas, Kazakhstan 2012, Zhastar 2012, and the organizing committee of initiative groups call on all democratic and progressive forces within Kazakhstan and around the world to show their solidarity with Kurmanov and put pressure on the dictatorial Kazakh regime, which “puts people in prison for the mere fact that they speak out, speak the truth, and dare to demand that the authorities do what they are obliged to do.”

In their communiqué, the organizers of the Kurmanov solidarity campaign write: “Don’t stand on the sidelines! Today it is Ainur Kurmanov, but tomorrow other people will be illegally jailed in Kazakhstan. We will defend freedom together! Say no to the dictatorial regime!”

***

Here is more information on this case from our comrades at the Vpered Socialist Movement:

http://vpered.org.ru/index.php?id=508&category=4

Ainur does not deny his participation in the demonstration. He emphasized, however, that the demonstration was permitted by the authorities and that he attended it in the capacity of a moderator, not an organizer. As for the picket at Temir Bank, Kurmanov was there n his capacity as a journalist: armed with a dictaphone and camera, he stood along with other members of the press corps. This did not interest the court, however. It is worth noting that only a month ago, Ainur was convicted by a court for similar actions – his performance of his duties as a journalist – at a picket by workers from the May First Machine Shop held outside the offices of ATF Bank. True, he was then fined the equivalent of 200 USD. This time, however, the court has decided that fifteen days in jail is the appropriate punishment.

[…]

During the hearing, the court summoned no witnesses for the defense and refused to admit as evidence video recordings that prove Ainur’s innocence. It is quite likely that the political authorities ordered his arrest. The annual Eurasia Media Forum took place April 27–28 in Almaty. OSCE representatives and President Nazarbayev were scheduled to attend, and the authorities thus had no desire to see superfluous protest actions. Moreover, May Day is approaching. Depriving the city’s labor and social movements of one of their recognized leaders is an excellent way for Kazakh authorities to ease tensions and intimidate needlessly active oppositionists.

***

You can get more background on the case and the general situation with civil and labor rights in Kazakhstan on the website of the Committee for a Workers’s International (SocialistWorld.Net):

***

After his sentence was announced, Ainur declared a hunger strike to protest this miscarriage of justice. You can support him by sending protest letters to the Kazakh authorities.

Here is a sample of a letter you can send to the akim (mayor) of Almaty, Akhmatzhan Esimov, and his deputy, Serik Seidumanov:

Mr. Esimov:

I was shocked to learn that journalist and civil rights activist Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Social Resistance Kazakhstan and Talmas, was illegally arrested and unlawfully sentenced to fifteen days in jail on April 27.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, four policemen burst into the offices of the Leave Housing to People organization, where Ainur Kurmanov was at that moment. The police officers seized Kurmanov, smashed his mobile phone, and arrested him without explanation. Later that same day, the Bostandyksk district administrative court in Almaty sentenced him to fifteen days in jail. The sentence was based on two incidents: Kurmanov’s proclamation of a resolution adopted at a legally sanctioned demonstration of the Kazakhstan 2012 movement (the resolution stated that if the protesters’ demands were not met, similar protests would take place throughout Kazakhstan) and his alleged involvement in organizing an unsanctioned picket of Temir Bank on April 22, which Kurmanov attended in his capacity as a journalist. Kurmanov’s innocence is corroborated by video recordings and eyewitness testimony, evidence that was not admitted by the court.

To protest this miscarriage of justice, Kurmanov declared a hunger strike immediately after his sentence was read out.

Kurmanov is constantly subjected to pressure, perscution, and intimidation on the part of law enforcement and the authorities.

This case is especially outrageous in light of the fact that Kazakhstan currently holds the chair of the OSCE, an organization that guarantees democratic freedoms and civil rights.

I ask you to do everything in your power to put an end to the persecution of opposition activists in Almaty and to defend the lives, safety, and freedom of expression of all citizens of Kazakhstan.

You can fax your letter to the Akimat of Almaty at +7 (727) 271-65-79 or sent it by e-mail: press_center@a-a.kz

Here is a sample of a letter you can send to the Almaty prosecutor’s office and the Kazakhstan prosecutor general’s office:

Mr. Prosecutor (General):

I was shocked to learn that journalist and civil rights activist Ainur Kurmanov, leader of Social Resistance Kazakhstan and Talmas, was illegally arrested and unlawfully sentenced to fifteen days in jail on April 27.

At approximately 11:30 a.m. on April 27, four policemen burst into the offices of the Leave Housing to People organization, where Ainur Kurmanov was at that moment. The police officers seized Kurmanov, smashed his mobile phone, and arrested him without explanation. Later that same day, the Bostandyksk district administrative court in Almaty sentenced him to fifteen days in jail. The sentence was based on two incidents: Kurmanov’s proclamation of a resolution adopted at a legally sanctioned demonstration of the Kazakhstan 2012 movement (the resolution stated that if the protesters’ demands were not met, similar protests would take place throughout Kazakhstan) and his alleged involvement in organizing an unsanctioned picket of Temirbank on April 22, which Kurmanov attended in his capacity as a journalist. Kurmanov’s innocence is corroborated by video recordings and eyewitness testimony, evidence that was not admitted by the court.

To protest this miscarriage of justice, Kurmanov declared a hunger strike immediately after his sentence was read out.

Kurmanov is constantly subjected to pressure, perscution, and intimidation on the part of law enforcement and the authorities.

This case is especially outrageous in light of the fact that Kazakhstan currently holds the chair of the OSCE, an organization that guarantees democratic freedoms and civil rights.

I ask you to do everything in your power to put an end to the persecution of opposition activists in Almaty and to defend the lives, safety, and freedom of expression of all citizens of Kazakhstan.

I also ask you to investigate the legality of Kurmanov’s sentence and the actions of the police officers who arrested him on April 27.

Send your letters to:

Kazakh Prosecutor General’s Office

Fax: +7 (727) 263-05-68; E-mail: procuror@nursat.kz or akparat@prokuror.kz

Almaty Prosecutor’s Office

E-mail: gp-rk@mail.online.kz

Ainur’s legal representatives can deliver messages in person. Please send copies of your protests to:

denver76-76@mail.ru and admin@socialismkz.info

Please also send your protests to the Secretariat of the OSCE via their online e-mail or by fax: +43 1 514 36 6996.

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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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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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2+2/Practicing Godard (The Story of the “Communal Life” Seminar)

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2+2/Practicing Godard (Part I)

I was inspired to make this film after the police forced me to delete video footage of the OMON raid on our seminar in Nizhny Novgorod. I was struck by their brazen confidence that they could erase things from people’s memory as easily as you can delete a video image.

This film is meant as a response to their challenge. It shows that we can not only document the crimes of the authorities for posterity, but also shape our own space of interpretation. We can recreate our own histories, in which the deeds of the police will be remembered as shameful acts against society.
—Dmitry Vilensky

You can read the working version of the screenplay here.

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2+2/Practicing Godard (Part II)

Concept and Direction: Dmitry Vilensky
Screenplay and Film Crew: Oleg Zhuravlyov, Nikolay Oleinikov, Kirill Medvedev, Dmitry Vilensky 
Camera and Editing: Dmitry Vilensky
Actors:  Andrei Amirov, Alexander Kuritsyn, Anna Tolkacheva, Andrei Nosov, Diana Sakaeva, Oleg Zhuravlyov, Nikolay Oleinikov, Marina Prokhorova, and many others who wish to remain anonymous.
This film is the result of a collaboration between the Vpered (“Forward”) Socialist Movement and Chto Delat Platform.

 

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Kandinsky Is Ashamed: Vpered and Chto Delat Picket the Kandinsky Prize

To receive the award, the three young men that comprise [the PG Group] came on stage wearing ski masks, announcing themselves to be the Moscow representatives of Somali pirates.“The future belongs to people in masks,” one member of the group said, to a stunned audience. “Your fat-cat lifestyle will soon end and then you’ll all be hung up high.” “We’re not joking,” he added. Silence descended on the room, followed by meek applause.

John Varoli, “Jeers, Cheers Greet Kandinsky Winner, Painter Beliayev-Guintovt” 

Kirill Medvedev
“Art Is Beyond Politics, Fascism Is Beyond Criticism”: A Picket by the Vpered Socialist Movement and Chto Delat on the “Territory of Art”

On December 10, independent critics, artists, and activists joined members of the Vpered (Forward!) Socialist Movement and the Chto Delat Work Group in a picket at the Winzavod Contemporary Art Center. The reason for the protest was the fascization of contemporary art and the art business, as exemplified by the nomination for and awarding of the Kandinsky Prize to Alexei Belyaev-Guintovt, the so-called stylist of the Eurasian Youth League.

kandinsky_4As members of the beau monde and the art establishment exited their cars and entered the auditorium where the awards ceremony took place, they observed with a mixture of unease, squeamishness, and curiosity a group of twenty some leftist internationalists who were holding up a banner, handing out leaflets along with the new issue of Chto Delat newspaper (When Artists Struggle Together), and shouting such slogans as “Art Is Beyond Politics, Fascism Is Beyond Criticism!” “Kandinsky Is Ashamed!” and “Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom: Money, Swastikas, Crosses!” The “hosts” and guests of the awards ceremony nervously poked their heads out from the auditorium, people took snapshots, and a news crew from Channel One taped an improvised report of the action that is, however, unlikely ever to make it on the air.

Event organizers displayed tactical good sense: they decided that breaking up the picket would harm their business reputations, and this allowed the picketers to hand out as many newspapers and leaflets as possible.

Two VIP guests of the ceremony—thugs from the Eurasian Youth League—were drawn to the picketers’ banner, which featured the Eurasian Movement’s arrow-crosses, stylized swastikas, and the slogan “Kandinsky Is Ashamed.” After unsuccessfully attempting to seize the banner, the “Eurasians” entered into a political discussion with the picketers. They demanded to know how Belyaev-Guintovt and his fellow Duginites were fascists.

A reading of direct quotations from Eurasian Youth League manifestos and the published works of Alexander Dugin* made no impression on them, of course, and so the “Eurasians” renewed their battle to seize the banner. A long and fairly ridiculous scrum ensued. From time to time, the Eurasian warriors would scream things like, “He hit me!” and “He’s twisting my arm!” to the security guards. In the end, the rumpled Eurasians seized the banner and retreated into the auditorium, where they joined other honored guests in celebrating what turned out to be a brilliant victory for the Eurasian “stylist.” Meanwhile, the leftist activists continued their picket. They then quit the grounds of Winzavod. They left right on time: at the art center’s gates they ran into squads of policemen racing to the scene. Continue reading

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