March 13th 2006
taken from Abolishing The Borders From Below magazine ( http://abb.hardcore.lt)
People interested to take part in the protests and brave enough are welcome - Interview with anarchists from St.Petersburg
LZ: Yes, the pictures reached the mainstream media - e.g. I first saw Swedish police shooting activists in Gothenburg on the biggest Russian national channel. The problem is that most of the commentary on the so-called “anti-globalists” (I don’t like this word) movement in the media was totally stupid. The mainstream journalists don’t understand anything about this kind of movements and are always looking for some sensation or cool pictures of “violent” kids throwing stones. There was one TV-reporter who tried to somehow understand the motivations behind the movement(s) and did a couple of more or less okay reports - but that’s an exception. Some right-wing commentators supported european authorities’ repressions against antiglobalists because the latter were “barbarians” trying to destroy beautiful western civilisation. One bastard journalist even approved of the murder of Carlo Giuliani!
Klava: The reaction in Russia seemed to be less emotional than in western world. The critics of the protests where addressed mainly towards western welfare countries leaders and transnational organizations. Even if Russia is a member of some of those, the society is far from the rich welfare societies in western countries. In my opinion, for Russian mainstream media it was easy to skip some of the critics and feel that it has nearly nothing to do with Russia: “it’s just some stupid young western protests in the rich western countries”. So the point of view here seemed to be was more from outside, than in western countries.
ABB: Not many Russian activists have participated in anti-summit protests around Europe over the last years. Have the costs and visa-limitations been the only reasons for that?
LZ: Well, there were about 15 anarchists / radical environmentalists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in Prague 2000 and about 12 in Goethenburg 2001 (and some people in other big protests as well). Of course costs, passports and visas were a major problem stopping people from going. But also maybe there was not so much understanding why the protests were taking place and what’s the reason for participating in them.
Klava: I see the main reason for that in the lower number of activists in Russia. If you compare the percent of activists, travelling from Russia to western countries for some actions, it’s even more, than the percent of western activists coming to Russia. One reason for that is that the anti-summits abroad seem to not be the main topic in the activist movement in Russia. When some activist friends from different cities leave in different directions, in western countries you say “ok, see you at the anti-G8 summit in Scotland, are you coming?”, but in Russia you’ll rather mention the Otradnyi camp instead (ecological protest camp in this summer we report on in this issue - ABB). Only a few people here consider the lack of people from Russia at the anti-summits abroad as a problem: it seems more meaningful to travel to local actions with permanent lack of participants, than to the west, where there is “anyway enough people to protest”.
ABB: What were the analyses from the summits in which some people from Russia participated in? Klava: I heard a lot of positive thoughts about the big amount of active and responsible people and well-organized infrastructure. And, as a result of these first two, not so chaotic atmosphere during the protests. On the other hand, much critics towards the senselessness of such kind of protests: people seem to gather in anti-summits just for fun, no matter if the protests have some results or not. I heard the same critics towards the no-border camps: a lot of activists and a nice atmosphere that is even so nice, that it seems that people forget about the aims of the camp.
LZ: First of all we should mention that Artem from Rainbow Keepers was arrested in Goethenburg in 2001 on false charges of throwing stones (which he did not) and spent some time in Swedish prison - here is one lesson from one summit. Some good articles from the people who travelled appeared in anarchist press in Russia (”Volja”, “Tretiy Put”, “Novy Svet” and “Megafon”, also there is one good documentary movie from Prague 2000 made by our Ukrainian comrade. I hope these materials will help educate activists.
ABB: Do you know how it happened that the G8 summit has finally been set in Russia? Has Putin & Co. any special reasons to have this summit at home exactly this year?
LZ: I think it’s just Russia’s turn to host this summit. Russia joined the G8 in 1998 and there was no summit here yet.
ABB: Just to get a general picture: how much is the G8-summit in St.Petersburg a topic for politically active people in Russia, and for what kind of people?
LZ: It is now widely discussed by us, anarchists (of different kinds). To be honest, at the moment I don’t know of any other political forces thinking of this kind of things, but we are almost sure that e.g. National-Bolshevik party (NBP) or communists will do some actions. Also maybe some liberals will campaign for Russia’s exclusion from G8 because it is not a “democratic country” (this idea is supported by George Soros).
ABB: War in Chechnya, strong nationalism and paramilitary-organizations, huge poverty, organised and individual daily violence, and finally Putin - his person, his regime, his politics - this all is just the top of the problems that people like you have to consider in your daily political work and problems of “daily bread” for most people living in Russia. Do you think is it possible to see the links between all these aspects of power and domination on the one side and on the other side your protests against the G8, so that the actions in June 2006 appear not from “out of space” to the ordinary Sasha and popular Tamara? What are the possible links between daily-problems and the summit that you will focus on in next 10 months?
LZ: On a local level, let’s have in mind that many people in Petersburg still remember the 300th anniversary of the city (2003) with disgust. There were also heads of states coming so the police presence was massive and freedom of movement was much restricted - streets blocked, people could not get home sometimes. Of course we should pay attention to local problems and not just send messages of hatred to Putin or Bush or whoever else. I hope that our propaganda will deal with questions like war, bad environmental situation, housing problems, poverty, rising prices and so on. To be honest, we haven’t discussed these topics enough yet.
ABB: How much can the right-wing social movements be a problem during the days of protests?
Klava: Some of them will indeed organize their own actions against the G8-summit. One problem is that in the mainstream media and public opinion we’ll be together with them. Another problem, which some activists consider as a paranoia, is that, if our activity will rise to a noticeable level, right-wing football fans hired by the state will cause some problems for the protesters. Clean and easy way to get rid of the protests.
LZ: Yes, the right-wing can be dangerous. We should pay much attention to the development of (pro-Kremlin youth organization) Nashi and their activities. It is now proven that Nashi are tied to very violent gangs of football hooligans (see previous issue of ABB) and they organised some attacks on activists of authoritarian left-wing movements, like NBP or AKM (Vanguard Of Red Youth). In Ulianovsk one 17 year old communist died in September after being beaten up.
One should also always remember the story of Tsaritsyno pogrom in Moscow in October 2001, during which 3 people from Asia and Caucasus were beaten to death. About 300 nazi-skinheads and football hooligans were mobilised (by people connected to state authorities and pro-Kremlin movement “Idushie vmeste” (”Going Together”, now replaced by Nashi, to crush the proposed protest of “antiglobalists” near the hotel where some big business meeting was taking place. Some press like national daily paper “Izvestia” were full of stories about evil “antiglobalists” who are gonna come to Moscow to destroy everything. Of course, no protests were taking place, so crowd of nazis armed with iron bars went to hunt “non-white”-looking people.
We are not afraid but we need to be careful.
ABB: What other positive perspectives except of the one of disturbing the “Leningrad Cowbays Summit” do you see while calling for wide mobilisation against the G8? Do you see this summit more as a challenge you just cannot leave without an answer or rather as a chance for a new dynamic within your young movement and the progressive tendencies within society?
LZ: I would answer yes to both aspects. On a local level there is a hope to create more energetic and united movement, because there are now more young people interested in anarchist ideas. And also maybe the mobilisation against the summit will draw more attention to problems of Russia / ex-USSR from the global anti-capitalist movement.
Klava: An Anti-G8 action is an opportunity to gather a record number of anarchists to participate in the protests. Last 10 years the biggest anarchist action in Russia was not more than 150 people, but antiG8 for sure gathers at least three times more from all over the ex-USSR. Another question is, what will these 500-1000 anarchists manage to do in such conditions. Just to give a picture how Putin prepares such meetings, I can remember conditions from the St. Petersburg 300-years-party: already weeks before the birthday there where a few cops standing 24 hours on each street crossing, and during the event the whole city center was closed.
ABB: The problems to mobilize people from abroad seem to be obvious - people in the west are pointing to the endless list of reasons: missing (or too weak) activist infrastructure in Russia, unexpected level of repression, visas, borders, language problems, lack of established and proven contacts with structures in Russia, exotic mentality of people, etc... Would you rather confirm these anxieties or put an end to this
paranoia? Give you enough time for answering this question…
Klava: The main problem is evidently the border. It’s not so difficult to control the masses, when each individual needs to apply for a visa beforehand. In May 2003, when dozens of presidents gathered in St.Petersburg to celebrate the birthday of the city, this tactic was already used: tourist agencies that sell visas to Russia, recommended not even applying for this period. 2 months before the birthday of St.Petersburg they stopped making 3-month-visas for tourists. One possibility is to apply for a multi-entry-visa for one year right now, but it’s more expensive and will also not guarantee that you pass the border just before the summit. (in Helsinki such visa costs 100-150 euros, depending on your passport colour, http://www.lahialuematkat.fi).
The repressions will for sure be stronger than in any western anti-summits. Probably all kinds of gatherings of masses will be stopped already before the beginning, so we need to find fresh ideas how to protest. I suppose for Putin it’s more important to show St. Petersburg as a safe and controlled place to gather for the world leaders, than as a democratic place with the right of speech etc. So during the summit of G8 I expect to face a powerful control over all kinds of demonstrations. If you will be caught for one or another reason, for foreigners the most obvious is to get deported from Russia. This means, that your visa will be annulled and you won’t get a new one for 5 or even for 12 years.
The other problems maybe also exist, but at least they are solvable. The activist infrastructure is really quite weak, but I suppose we can manage to deal with the most essential logistics / technical questions, such as accommodation or translations. Of course you shouldn’t expect too much: forget about organized feeding of activists, indymedia centers with computers etc…
LZ: There is nothing so much exotic about Russia, we don’t have bears walking the streets or something like this. But yes, there are some dangers if you travel to Russia with activist purposes. Also an example from our previous experience - the environmental campaign in Votkinsk in 2001. There were 3 activists from Finland visiting our camp and all of them got harassed this or that way by state authorities. After that they tried to enter Russia one more time and they were not let in. They will not be able to come here again for at least 5 years or even more.
But that’s the worst case, of course. Another danger - if you plan to come to Petersburg, beware of cops - they like to rob foreigners. About lack of contacts in Russia - if you are reading this magazine, you already have enough contacts - check out the “Communities in Struggle” section. And I hope there will be more contacts as we are building this new anti-G8 network.
ABB: So who is welcome in Leningrad in July 2006 and why?
LZ: Personally, I’d like to see all of my friends from many countries here (of course including the whole ABB crew). But it would be just irresponsible to say “okay, everyone come here and we’ll have great days of party and protest” - having in mind possible repressions and so on (see previous answer). So, I would say that people interested to take part in the protests and brave enough are welcome.
ABB: Anything else to add or to spread among about 2 thousands of anarchists’ world wide supposedly reading this magazine?
LZ: Please have in mind that there probably will be some international networking meeting(s) taking place in Ukraine (because this country cancelled visas for EU & US citizens) - if you are interested, follow the discussions in the international e-mail lists. Check out the official website of Russia’s presidency in G8 - http://www.g8russia.ru - or try to hack it if you have the skills :) And also we would be very grateful for all kinds of solidarity actions and donations. If you have any questions - get in touch with us.
ABB: Thank you a lot for interview and for invitation.
Well, we are maybe not the brave people but for sure we are dedicated to what we believe in and this stays for our “group ticket” and the only true VISA to enter Leningrad next summer. Our solidarity with you, and we wish you a lot of progress during upcoming meetings on “Cowboys summit”.
Questions answered by Klava and Ligovka Zapatista, members of Network Against G8, Petersburg
Contact: nag8spb (a) mail.ru
A call out to protest against G8 summit of 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia
Четверг Январь 12th 2006, 11:22 am
Опубликовано в: english
In July 2006 G8 will hold its summit in St.Petersburg, Russia.
G7 was created in 1975, for informal discussions on economic and political questions between heads of most powerful capitalist states. Russia joined in 1998 - it was accepted thanks to its nuclear arsenal and vast natural resources (in 2004, Russia was only 16th largest economy of the world; e.g. China was not invited to the club). G8 has no juridical status whatsoever, so it exists outside any democratic framework. But it still has become an important spectacle and platform, where top leaders of the world may look for consensus among each other, before imposing their policies on their populations.
We have no illusions about parliamentarian democracy, we are against any governments. Current state of the world proves all too well, that with a submissive mainstream media spreading anti-terrorist hysteria, powers are yet able to submit their citizens to policy of war and destruction. Russia has been one of the forerunners of these developments, with an endless war in Northern Caucasus and suppression of independent media.
We are anticapitalists, and we do not have any illusions about national capital as an alternative to global one. Small diplomatic skirmishes between major powers in regards to North Caucasian and Iraq wars were quickly settled, and essentially all G8 states give at least passive support to policies of each other. Solidarity between elites passes any borders, so our solidarity must do this as well.
Whatever labels media put on us, we are not “antiglobalists”. We are for a free flow of people, ideas and struggles - across any borders. When G8 leaders claim to fight for freedom, they are fighting for a freedom of capital accumulation √ according to which nuclear waste must have freedom to cross borders into Russia, but people must not have this right. G8 leaders also claim to fight against poverty, but in reality it is their policies that cause poverty in the first place. Moscow has more billionaries than any other city of the world, while vast majority of Russian population has profited nothing from the politics, declared to be aimed at “economic growth”, which in any case will last just as long as there are natural resources to be looted. In contrary, it is the very poorest who have been targeted with the neoliberal reforms, such as revoking free social benefits and rising prices of communal payments, which is connected to the plan of Russia joining the WTO.
We call for protests all around the world during G8 summit in St. Petersburg. We also call for a global convergence to St. Petersburg in time of the summit √ attention of the whole world will be directed to spectacle of the G8, and we must show that they will be met with protest anywhere they will go! We are everywhere!
Network Against G8 (Russia / ex-USSR)
Network Against G8 (Russia /ex-USSR) - basic priciples
1. The initiative is aimed against the states, current dominating economic system and all forms of opression.
2. For the participants of NAG8 any discrimination on basis of race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and age is untolerable.
3. We make decisions by consensus. In case of lack of consensus on some questions groups of NAG8 participants may make their own statements and actions not contradicting these basic principles.
4. During the preparation of protest actions we are not interested in cooperating with organisations aiming at taking power.
5. We approve of any methods of resistance, if they are aimed against the rulers but not against the people of G8 countries. Any member of the network is free to choose his / her own tactics.