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(en) CIS NEWSLETTER No 8 February 2001 (1/2)

From Antti Rautiainen <antti.rautiainen@kolumbus.fi>
Date Fri, 9 Mar 2001 12:39:42 -0500 (EST)


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      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
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From: Bas Moreel <bas_moreel@yahoo.com>

CIS NEWSLETTER No 8  February 2001

My latest longer stay in Russia was from early August
to early October last year. I've not been to any of
the other CIS countries for a while. (This sounds
really huge but out of the x CIS countries I've
visited actively only Russia and Ukraine. Whatever
I've ever "reported" about the other CIS countries
came from Ekspress Khronika)
Ekspress Khronika stopped appearing in a paper version
after its issue No 17 of april 29, 2000. It continues,
be it in reduced form, to be available as web site
www.online.ru/sp/chronicle/, however.

PETERBURG
In Peterburg I always visit Aleksandr Maishev, high
and dry on the 11th floor of a high building in
woodlike surroundings. Whatever was wrong in the
Soviet Union, some bureaucrats liked trees or, at
least, had them planted abundantly in their cities.
So, even Aleksandr Maishev is able to see the effects
of the seasons. When you enter he lifts his right hand
with his left hand. Don't try to show your friendship
with a firm shake of hands and also don't wonder why
he doesn't get up to greet his guests, he even hasn't
opened the door, even when he is alone in the flat. In
that case the door would have stayed locked. You have
to call in advance to be sure that there is somebody
to open the door. The same as with hand shaking with
writing because he is right-handed. Nevertheless, he
has built a beautiful web site and he likes to collect
information and relevant texts. Since the building
collective for which he worked had stopped its
activities because there wasn't enough money left with
its target customer group he has more time for this
luxury. Wim de Lobel, long-time Dutch anarchist
administrator, first of the anarchist journal "De
Vrije" and then of its successor "De AS", his employer
to this day, mentioned in the 70s what good memories
he had of the time when he was jobless as he had had
the leisure to do all kinds of interesting things. I
have the same experience myself and "many with me"
these days in western Europe - I'm not saying: "in the
West" because the West includes the United States. I
don't know whether Wim felt happy at the time of his
joblessness and equally I don't know whether Aleksandr
is happy with his ongoing joblessness now but I wish
him as a minimum the same happy memories later on as
Wim. At least he won't have to feel ashamed because of
a lack of principledness: since the beginning of this
year his web site is www.nothingtobeseen.com because
he had put an interesting recent book on his web site
and had refused to withdraw it when the translator
protested, saying he didn't submit to State laws.
Thereupon the server killed his site. Aleksandr's web
site was a successor to his paper bulletin "An-Press"
and will, in due course, have a successor too. Until
this new web site will be ready you may contact
Aleksandr by e-mail at AnPress@admiral.ru. One date
you may already want to write in your diary for the
year 2002: 6 February: first birthday of Olga and
Aleksandr Maishev's son Aleksandr Aleksandrovic.
Congratulations! Also for his 0th birthday! No problem
if you don't know Russian especially when e-mailing:
he has a translating programme (perhaps from English
only) on his computer and that adds often extra
flavour to what you are writing. 
The League of Peterburg Anarchists I saw at work on a
Sunday at their weekly picket together with
trotzkyists against the war in Chechnya on the Nevskiy
Prospekt boulevard. Among the posters held up by the
picketers was one uniting president Putin and Hitler.
One passer-by threatened to tell the police. But the
police didn't seem to care. They checked only whether
the picketers had permission: they had. There is fear
that president Putin tries to curtail the freedom of
expression and there are things happening that point
into that direction but, maybe, in Peterburg things
are different. Dmitri  Vorobievskiy in Voronezh
continues to be harassed by the police when he shows
up with one of his provocative posters at meetings and
demos but he continues with his posters too. If the
poster he is holding is torn up by the police he knows
he can make a new one. They are very simple to make:
paper and a felt pen, one colour: black, bammm!. He
refused to turn up when he was called into the armed
forces way back before the perestroika and is since
then available for conversations with young people not
knowing what to do with their call.

BOCHEVO
After Peterburg: "Kolkhoz Novy Put" in Bochevo around
300 km to the east. The day I arrived there in August,
all the doors of the poor landlabourer's cottage from
where "Kolkhoz Novy Put" is to develop were padlocked.
The animals were there, however, which meant that
Nikolai had gone to the nearest bigger village or to
Peterburg. There was no way to go to either because
the last bus of the day had passed by. So, I went
looking for a place where I would be protected from
the rain during that night of the wet summer of the
year 2000. There was nothing very suitable but,
fortunately, friends of Nikolai came to see their bees
and, although they had never seen me before, took me
to their isba in a neighbouring village for the night.
The next day Nikolai came back from Peterburg with a
girl "with learning difficulties" who had been staying
with him since almost a year. She represents one of
Nikolai's dreams. Since a number of years he has been
taking such girls from orphanages around Peterburg,
where they rather vegetate, to give them the
opportunity to learn practical household skills.
Initially he had kind of an agreement with the
director of one such orphanage, who allowed him to
have one or two such girls with him for periods of two
months. When a new director came this new director
pretended that the orphanage was giving the girls all
they needed. It's true that the girls were fed and
dressed decently but they were taught nothing and had
no proper activities. Anyway, no girls were allowed to
stay with Nikolai any more. Then Tanya Volotskaya, who
had stayed with Nikolai before, fled the orphanage and
came to Bochevo. She was without documents, however,
and what benefits the State paid for her as a mentally
handicapped person was kept in the orphanage. Without
documents you can't do anything official in Russia,
e.g. get your benefits or get Nikolai appointed your
legal guardian. After some back and forth Tanya got an
invitation from the orphanage last June to come and
get her documents. But when she got there she was
locked up in a special department of the orphanage,
which - I learned the other day - is called
Psycho-Neurological Internate (I maintain the Russian
word, "home" would have been a proper translation of
the circumstances had been different) No 4 (PNI-4) at
Pushkin, Leningradskaya oblast. Fortunately, the locks
were not too good and, so, Tanya could flee again but
again without documents. Nikolai took the matter to
court, however, and when I left Bochevo he had been
assured that the perspectives were good.
Five months later Nikolai is panicking. On January 18
last he and Tanya had been called to the court in
Pushkin, where the PNI claimed her back. The court
agreed for the time till the next court session, so
that it could examine the matter. The barrister, Mr
L.D. Aldeev, member of the International Association
of Lawyers "Sankt Peterburg" according to information
received by Nikolai, and the driver of the PNI threw
Tanya on the ground in court and dragged her to their
car. In the PNI she was locked up again. At the next
court session, on  the 29th of January the Judge
declared the PNI claim unfounded but agreed the PNI
for another ten days to give the barrister time to
challenge the verdict if he or the PNI wanted. During
this time Tanya gets aminazin injections according to
information obtained by Nikolai, a strong
neurolepticum with which mentally healthy persons can
be made mentally ill. For what my witness is worth I
can witness, after having stayed at Bochevo for
several years, that Tanya isn't mentally ill at all.
The last time I was there we worked together as
colleagues she trying to teach me how to milk the
goats, to turn the hay, etc. Unfortunately, her
teaching was only halfway successful because I'm also
a person with learning difficulties, the goats ran
always away when I came with my bucket but, it's true,
that led to funny games with the goats, especially
with the intelligent older one. 
According to Nikolai it is legally inadmissible that
Tanya is forced to stay in the PNI. People like she
can be kept there only if they want so themselves.
Nikolai didn't write whether this court was the same
as the one where he had asked for the regularisation
of Tanya's situation. As Tanya's situation hasn't been
regularised yet for the laws Nikolai doesn't exist for
the court in her case, neither for the public
prosecutor. 
Address of the office of the public prosecutor:
Gorprokuratura, Pochtamtskaya 2/9, 190000 Sankt
Petersburg, Russia.
At the court session of January 18 Tanya - in mental
age around 12 - had to defend her case herself! When
she said that the staff of the PNI had stolen
belongings of hers in June the judge (Mrs O.Yu.
Demidowa) didn't pay attention to what she said.
Nikolai cannot pay for a barrister. His farm makes no
money, except, perhaps, a little with honey. But from
what little he had got from the few bee boxes he had
last year after a bad winter and a wet summer I had to
take a jarful for friends in Peterburg when I left. 
At the PNI they say that Nikolai wants to have girls
at his farm for sexual reasons, not to teach them
anything, which says something about the level of
thinking at that PNI. 
In his letter Nikolai suggests to ask the PNI about
the prison or special department they have and about
Tanya Volotskaya. Perhaps also about the proofs they
have of Nikolai's sexual activities with the girls he
is entertaining.
Address: PNI-4, Pavlovskoe Shosse, No 67, 196600
Pushkin, Russia. 
I myself, when I came there for the first time,
thought also of the possibility that Nikolai might
sleep with the girls, but my factual impression has
always been that of a father-daughter relationship
with nothing sexual. And Tanya's example shows that
girls (and boys) like she can learn there something.
The problem with Tanya is one in a row over the ten
years Nikolai has been trying to get his one-man farm
become a co-operative one. Last year two men who had
come the year before saying they were interested in
joining Nikolai disappeared steeling two of the
remaining horses. Of the ten geese Nikolai had bought
as guards not so long ago only three were left last
August (And one of these three was eaten by one of the
chained dogs one day when I was alone at the farm
turning hay at some distance from the house.) Two
years ago Nikolai had to hand over his small herd of
sheep to another farm for three years because he had
not enough feed for the winter. What remained at my
departure last August were four horses (out of the
fifteen he has had over the four or five years I've
been visiting him - the others stolen or killed, of
whom two just born foals by his own dogs), two he- and
two she-goats, two geese, a number of chickens and
three dogs. All roam around freely during the day (and
the horses also during the night) except for the two
killer dogs.
After those ten years Nikolai seems to accept that his
place is not for "normal" people: Bochevo is a village
of older people during the gardening season and from
November till March-April only Nikolai's cottage is
inhabited. Moreover, life at the farm will not easily
exceed a subsistence level. The wide surroundings of
??chevo are not a market for farm products like
potatoes and vegetables because people have gardens
where they grow their own vegetables and potatoes. The
cost of transport farther away would make the produce
unsaleable. The animals of the farm are not for
slaughtering. Nikolai gets only milk and eggs from
them and probably wool when his sheep come back -
supposing he will have the time or the money to shear
them or to have them sheared. In the past I had the
impression that that wasn't always the case. In August
Nikolai thought that only honey could be a money
earner. 
Not wishing to give up on his idea to make Bochevo and
surroundings a normally inhabited area again (it was
in the past, Bochevo was a normal village till the
collectivisation and also when it was part of a State
farm it existed. Only in recent times administrators
have decided that the area isn't fit for agriculture)
Nikolai is now thinking of the possibility to have his
kolkhoz or co-operative farm realised by people "with
learning difficulties". The director of a school for
youngsters of that kind has declared his willingness
to look for suitable candidates among the students
finishing school this year. 
Nikolai thinks that the problem with normal adults is
that they are too accustomed to work for themselves
whereas youngsters who have been together during a
number of years, might have more feeling for
co-operation in daily life.
It would, nevertheless, be good also to have one or
more "normal" adults around, if only for a "normal"
conversation now and then. 
My impression after several stays is that Nikolai in
his early fifties is quite good as an adoptive father
and teacher for youngsters like Tanya. She is (was)
obviously very happy at his farm, although she would
like (have liked) to have a few people of her age (she
is approximately 18) around.
Postal address: Nikolai Panteleev, ulitsa Rubinsteina
24-7, 191002 Sankt Peterburg, Russia. Nikolai spends a
day in Peterburg at the beginning of every month.
As a postal address Bochevo is complicated and I may
not be able to show how it should be written or, at
least, it might not get over properly in an e-mail
version. I'll be happy to send it on paper to who asks
for it.

OMSK
In Omsk I attended a conference on political parties
organised by the local Pedagogical Institute. For an
anarchist contribution Vasili Starostin asked me to
tell something about the Catholic Worker movement.
Thanks to him and Lena Starostin the audience
understood what it was all about and applauded. Later,
at the European Catholic Worker meeting in Amsterdam -
for which I had initially been asked to act as keynote
speaker with a talk on the influence of Peter
Kropotkin on the founders of that same movement - I
was told that I had left out the inspirator of that
movement and on my agenda is the concoction of the
final word on it. I've never pretended to be an expert
in any field whatsoever but sometimes I turn out to be
the one one-eyed man in a land of blind.. Frank Mintz
of the French CNT (said "de la rue de Vignoles" to
distinguish it from the revolutionary CNT-Bordeaux)
was more at his place there. He had sent his
contribution on his speciality in advance and it was
printed in the preparatory two-volume collection of
contributions: Anarchosyndicalism in Spain and France
- 1990-2000. The conference was a reminder of the fact
that in the 19th century "party" was a designation for
all kinds of political groupings including anarchist
ones. On the list of speakers were several anarchists
or people who were to speak about anarchist subjects
but they had only sent their texts, which
characterises them as true scholars: they can point to
publications when they apply for a job or for
advancement or when they aspire to get some academic
title.
The conference was followed by a seminar organised by
the Sibirskya Konfederatsia Truda, the Siberian 
syndicalist  trade-union. Approximately 24 members of
the SKT attended plus two women of the Swedish SAC,
somebody from IWW-Ireland,  two or three Italians 
from Lotta Communista and again Frank
Mintz and me. The idea of the seminar was to let the
participants discuss a number of every-day issues that
are often controversial. And apparently some really
were, judging by the sometimes heated discussions.
Impossible to sleep quietly. For me the three
animators of the seminar intervened a bit too often
and did not always allow the discussions go their
course, especially the woman from outside - otherwise
an excellent and dynamic stimulator -, but who am I? I
had hardly an idea of what they were talking about.
What I liked about the seminar was the fire in the
discussions and that the participants were mainly in
their forties, i.e. they had remained socially engaged
after their wild years, when you are bound to be
socially engaged if you have some heart, as some say.

TOMSK
In Tomsk Konstantin Lebedev was still involved in the
defence of villagers to the north of Tomsk or rather:
of Seversk, who had been in the way of a nuclear cloud
passing over their area after an explosion at the
"chemical" factory in Seversk in 1993, and over which
higher and lower courts were playing tennis. Boris
Bylin, the eternally young father of Tomskiy
anarchism, had written a brochure about the several
initiatives taken by citizens of Tomsk during the
perestroika days and how these initiatives had petered
out when the magic word "free elections" had started
filling the air. He and others whose names appear time
and again in Tomsk when citizens' rights are at stake
are also party in a case represented by Konstantin
Lebedev about an unlawful agreement between the
administration of the oblast and the Ministry of
Defence about parts of missiles launched from Baikonur
and allowed to fall in the territory of the oblast.
One of those others, Igor Kuznetsov, belongs to the
claiming party in another case represented by
Konstantin Lebedev: the permission given by the
administration of the oblast to the Sibirskiy
Khimicheskiy Kombinat in Seversk to deposit liquid
radioactive waste in the underground.

TOMSK VIEWED FROM SEVERSK
Seversk is a city to the north of Tomsk, Siberia,
where you need good reasons to be let in. One good
reason is to work for Siemens because of the atomic
co-operation between that company and the Sibirskiy
Khimicheskiy Kombinat in Seversk. In the past the
local syndicalists issued not less than two different
papers but they stopped when one of them, Vladimir
Efimov, had had a heart attack. Seversk and
surroundings must not be a healthy place to live: at
about the same time Sergei Borovkov, an activist in
Tomsk, had the same problem. Neither wants to lie
down, however. For a few years no sign of activity but
two people from Seversk were at the SKT seminar in
Omsk and now I get the following e-mail, slightly
shortened and completed with elements from a later
explanation, from Rafael Markin, who, until not long
ago, was the only syndicalist in the area who
maintained contacts with the West. 
"My brother Aleksandr took the initiative to try to
bring new life into the trade-union movement in Tomsk,
as he has also been doing in Seversk but trying to
avoid the errors made there. We had an advice service
and helped people in court cases, mostly about
non-payment of wages and compensation for delay in
payment. In some cases such compensations amounted to
as much as 20,000 rubles [= over $700 - quite a few
people in Russia earn not more than the equivalent of
$50-100 a month, but in closed and unhealthy Seversk
wages must be higher than "normal", BM]. Everything
went fine until one collaborator realised that with
advisory work and representation at the courts one can
make nice money. The person made propaganda against us
and, so, we managed to help only 350-400 people
instead of the many more we could have helped. We
don't exclude the possibility that some influential
people wanting to destroy the syndicalist movement
steered that person.
"In Tomsk a few people are interested in our idea and
on the 27th of January the organising group met for
the first time. The first ideas are to help people to
get overdue wages and, e.g., child benefits, perhaps
not only in Tomsk but also in surrounding places. At
the moment my brother is working on the registration
of the "Konfederacia Svobodnykh Profsoyuzov Tomskoi
Oblasti" [Confederation of Free Trade-Unions in the
oblast Tomsk] ["oblasts" are the main administrative
division in Russia comparable with US and Mexican
states, also of widely different sizes but with less
discretionary power]." 
Rafael is modest as always: he prepares forms and
papers for court cases. He has ten years' experience
in the defence of workers' and trade-union rights. In
the papers he has prepared for court cases the courts
have never found fault..
.
MOSCOW
In Moscow I saw Andrei Biryukov, who finds the time
has come for another Kropotkin conference next year,
Mikhail Tsovma, who knows what's going on and makes no
secret of it, and Aleksandr Shubin, who gave me copies
of writings he has produced over the years, i.a. the
histories and a comparison of the Makhno and the
Spanish anarcho-syndicalist movements and a book
"Garmonia Istorii", in which he demonstrates that
countries on the face far apart ideologically and by
form of government, like the US and the SU in the
1960s, may follow very similar policies. Of the former
and of Boris Bylin's brochure I will have copies at
the San Francisco anarchist book fair of March 24 next
as I had at the London anarchist book fair of October
14 last, with several other Russian publications. This
time I will also have a few Italian titles from the
publishing initiative Eleuthera and copies of the
monthly Rivista Anarchica and the quarterly
Libertaria, all in Milano. I couldn't stand that these
innovating and view-widening efforts receive so little
attention beyond the language barrier. They themselves
look actively over the borders: a large part of the
Eleuthera titles are translations. 

POLLUTION
For those who have access to the Internet here are a
few Russian web sites:
www.nothingtobeseen.com - anarchist, run by Aleksandr
Maishev - see under "Peterburg"
http://anarchive.da.ru - anarchist, run by Mikhail
Tsovma
http://polnoch.da.ru - situationist, run by Mikhail
Tsovma 
http://www.shubin.newmail.ru - writings by Aleksandr
Shubin, mostly history and ecology
For the texts of the 1992 Kropotkin conference look at
http://www.dux.ru under "stranitsy istorii". It's run
by Pavel Talerov in Peterburg. Mikhail Tsovma told me
that Andrei Biryukov has found ways to get also the
two remaining volumes of these texts printed on paper.

POLAND

Last year I saw Wroclaw and Bialystok. 
In Wroclaw the nice squat with the big orchard is no
longer. When I was in Wroclaw in the beginning of the
summer the inhabitants of Rejon 69 had found a
temporary refuge in a squat on ulica Kromera near the
river. Since then they have found a place of their own
again for which they also pay rent to the city
government, in a word: decadent people, new bourgeois
to-morrow. 
Bialystok I saw for something like an hour and a half
in the beginning of August. I had been sent back from
the Bielorussian border to get a transit visa, a brand
new invention of Aleksandr Lukashenko & Co. I went to
see the building of the Bielorussian consulate on that
early Saturday morning and then decided to travel to
Peterburg through the Baltic countries. There, as a
Schengen citizen, I needed no visa but I'm not sure
that I saved money and definitely no time, but it was
a change and I felt freer. In this case I would have
had to pay $40 because I would have needed the visa at
once - I don't know whether they would have taken even
more because it was a Saturday. The list price is $20
payable when you buy your transit visa sufficiently in
advance, otherwise $40. A two-way transit visa is $30
if you buy it sufficiently in advance.

The information underneath comes from Warhead, P.O.
Box 129, 15-662 Bialystok, Poland E-mail
<soja2@friko4.onet.pl> and from Piotr
Borodulin-Nadzieja in Wroclaw. I could have passed on
more if I had known Polish, reading Piotr and Piero
Smyrak's www.PoProstu.pl 

SQUATS
November saw the squatting of an old building in
Bialystok by some local anarchist groups. The squat
was named 'Old Rock'n'Roll' after the pub which used
to be there. Despite hassling by the police the
squatters managed to organise four parties connected
with various cultural events: an exhibition of
photographs of Prague September 26, 2000, May Day in
London, video shows, a concert by the
ecological/anarchist bard Janusz Reichel. The squat is
also a meeting place for local anarchists.
There have already been a few police interventions.
The last one ended with the barricading of the squat
entrance and the police breaking the outer door.
Fortunately, they didn't have the right to enter the
place and couldn't break the second door, so they
left. An official complaint was lodged against the
police for this incident. The situation with the
police is getting worse and worse. They have
threatened the squatters with fines and have told them
that they will get them out sooner or later. However,
the squatters are still there and won't leave the
place without a fight. (Warhead e-mail Jan 15, 2001)

In Wroclaw there are two squats now. There is still
the one in which you lived for a week last summer, and
now we have a legal one, in which we have made a nice
library. It's pretty "comfortable" with central
heating, hot water, maybe telephone in the future,
and, most important, we are more or less sure that we
will still have it in two, three years' time.
During a few weeks there was a third squat, but after
several "nazi"-attacks and problems with police it was
evicted. (E-mail Piotr Borodulin-Nadzieja, 27 Jan
2001)

NURSES ON STRIKE
Polish nurses went on strike at the beginning of
December. The strike was at first just a warning to
tell the authorities that the nurses wanted better
working conditions and higher wages. Due to the
passiveness of the government the protest radicalised.
In several cities and towns nurses are not working. In
a few cities they are occupying buildings of
institutions responsible for the money the health
services (exact translation of their names is
impossible) get. Nurses have blocked some city
entrances and city centres. Just after Christmas
nurses ended a more than two weeks long occupation of
the main building of the Ministry of Health. In a few
cities anarchists have taken part in actions of the
nurses, such as a blockade of the main road in Warsaw
(two anarchists have subsequently been charged with
assaulting a police officer) and demonstrations
outside health care buildings. The Anarchist
Federation has issued a leaflet supporting the strike
and calling on nurses and doctors to seize control of
their workplaces. The strike intensifies each day and
the co-operation between nurses and anarchists is
growing. In a few cities the nurses' strike has also
been supported by miners and other workers belonging
to Solidarity 80. (Warhead e-mail Jan 15, 2001)

In December we joined the big strike of the nurses.
They were not afraid of co-operation with
strange-looking persons, who called themselves
"anarchists". It was a really good experience for us.
Now the strike is finished, but in December nurses did
really "hard" actions (hunger strikes) and, believe
me, nurses are  much more effective "street-fighters"
than any "dangerous" anarchist. (E-mail Piotr
Borodulin-Nadzieja, 27 Jan 2001)


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