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(en) Ufa, Russia, 5th general meeting of Autonomous Action

Date Sun, 25 Sep 2005 10:42:23 +0300


19th-22nd of August 2005 members and friends of Autonomous Action gathered
to Ufa, capital of the Bashkirian republic of the Russian Federation. This
was 5th general meeting of the federation after its foundation in 2001.
Ufa group of Autonomous Action prepared conference almost faultlessly, it took
place in forests surrounding the city. Both arrival of the delegates and
preparation of the camp was made with adequate security measures, so unlike
in Plyos last year, special services did not disturbed anarchists this time.
Only rain was getting to nerves of the participators - there were up to 10
showers a day, so people were running back and forth between camp fire and
cover.

Meeting had a great atmosphere - informal, serious and practical at the same
time. Constructive with neither drunken nor bureaucratic excesses.
There were no any unbridgeable controversies in the meeting. An unusual
feeling of mutual understanding, unanimity and solidarity, without unification.
One more important, characteristic and delighting factor of this meeting
was at last functioning system of the imperative mandates - necessity of
which was argued such a long time. Around 30 people from 7 different cities were
presented by imperative mandates - invisibly, but completely perceptibly. I
think this is a proof of a tangible qualitative growth of our libertarian
organization, its development to something real. Some clarity is emerging
from dreams of the founders, and chaotic conglomeration of most diverge
crews and groups.

Most of the topics in the meeting were dealing with internal questions of
the organization. More than 20 members of Autonomous Action from groups of
Irkutsk, Ufa, Moscow, Nizhni Novgorod, Minsk and Ivanovo were present, as
well as individual members from Tyumen, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Izhevsk and
Kirov. Imperative mandates were sent from Krasnodar, Nizhni Novgorod,
Moscow, Saratov, Perm, Minsk and Kaliningrad. Besides delegates, there were
up to ten guests from Ufa, Yekaterinburg, Gay (Orenburg region), Izhevsk,
Moscow (among others, representative of FrontAIDS, organization that fights
for the rights of the HIV-infested) and North-East Federation of Anarchist
Communist, that has groups in Canada and USA.

Local organizations of Autonomous Action told about their current projects.
Irkutsk group has been fighting against mounting of a statue for Kolchak, a
white guard butcher, and other phenomena of emerging fascist attitudes, such
as anti-Chinese hysteria. Group has participated to demonstrations against
monetarization of free social benefits and to ecological campaign against
Far-East oil pipeline. Group distributes Avtonom and spreads ideas amongst
local counter-culture - there are three anarchist bands in Irkutsk. 60
people joined anarchist Mayday march in Irkutsk. Group has also organized
lectures and a library. Publication of "Activist"-bulletin has been halted,
but there are plans to publish newspaper "Free Siberia" together with
anarchist members of Siberian Confederation of Labour (SKT). Recently
anarchists of Baikal area organized a common coordination meeting, 13 people
were present from Irkutsk, Angarsk and Shelikhov. Meeting made resolutions
against Far-Eastern oil pipeline, and against Siberian separatism.

In Tyumen, one may see emerge of various social movements. Local authorities
are engaging in short-sighted politics of destruction of parks and merging
local universities to bigger units. Anarchist movement has good perspectives
to develop in a wave of protest movements against these developments.

In Yekaterinburg, activists are busy with graffiti, anti-fascist activities
and distribution of anarchist press. Ufa group has also engaged in
anti-fascism, demonstrations are organized and leaflets published. There was
an attempt to organize student protests, but that finished with one member
of the group getting dismissed from the university. Group is also doing
graffiti, and has plans to form a commune and to publish an anti-fascist
paper for students.

In Ivanovo Autonomous Action is under a heavy pressure of repressive
organs - even two legalized demonstrations have been dispersed by police.
But struggle continues, and in autumn group plans to get engaged in an
ecological protest campaign against Austrian multinational Egger, which
wants to build a hazardous plant to city of Shuya, not far from Ivanovo.
Ivanovo group is also distributing literature and engaged to anti-fascist
activity. In both Ufa and Ivanovo members of Autonomous Action are also
members of regional anarchist organizations - in Ufa in Ufa Anarchist
Federation (UFA) and in Ivanovo in Anarcho-Communist Union of Ivanovo
(AKSI). Besides members of Autonomous Action, these organizations unite
different anarchists who are outside inter-regional structures.

Moscow group of Autonomous Action has been busy publishing Avtonom and
anti-militarist paper Dezertir (deserter), Network of Workplace Resistance
(www.antijob.tk) attempts to organize workers through internet, in February
of 2005 group co-organised and participated to "Deserter festival", and
during year other public actions: right after terrorist attack in Beslan,
against monetarization of free social benefits, to defend Israeli
anarchists, victory day 9th of May and others. Group joined actions of some
grassroots initiatives and published leaflets, anarchist lecture series was
continued, members of the group also participated to ecological protest camp
in Otradniy, social forums in Moscow and Siberia and to Bakunin memorial
conference in Pryamukhino.

Some 50 people joined anarchist Mayday action in Kirov, Autonomous Action
members are also engaged in anti-fascist work there. In Izhevsk student
union replaced collapsed libertarian organization "Attack" (not to be
confused with Attac), anarchist are participating to union, and struggling
against reform of communal payments. In Nizhniy Novgorod members keep
publishing anarchist paper Situatsiya, they also organize discussion club
"Pozitiv", concerts and graffiti. Nizhni Novgorod anarchists also joined
demonstrations against monetarization of free social benefits, and got
arrested. Local group of National-Bolshevik Party and other Nazis regularly
attack Autonomous Action there.

General meeting accepted new groups from Minsk of Belarus, Angarsk (of
Irkutsk region) and Donetsk of Ukraine. Three individual members were
accepted from Izhevsk, and one from Perm. Meeting decided not to accept 7
candidate organizations, because too little was known about them, and they
did not sent delegates to general meeting. Meeting decided not to accept
Autonomous Action of Belarus as a member organization, because federation
has a 3-level structure (individual members, local groups and inter-regional
federation), to which regional organizations do not fit. But of course local
sections of Autonomous Action in any area are free to form any kind of
formal and informal unions between each other, outside formal framework of
the federation itself.

Meeting decided to exclude from federation groups that do not participate to
work of the federation - those who are systematically absent from general
meeting and conferences and who do not pay their dues. If groups of Ryazan,
Kaliningrad, Kem (of Karelian Republic) and Yerevan (of Armenia) fail to
clarify their status until 1st of October, they will be excluded.
Participators of the general meeting agreed that Autonomous Action should
not gather "dead souls". It should be a federation of activists which does
not attempt to reach big numbers with any price. People decided to prefer
common work with people with a period of half year or a year in prior to
membership, in order to determine their ideas and seriousness of their
intentions during this period of time. It was agreed that this was a better
approach than accepting transitory or dubious groups. Such groups are either
inactive or have non-libertarian positions, and they create inertia in the
organization because they are easy to manipulate and are a barrier to
reaching a quorum in general meetings, because they do not send delegates.

One member from Chelyabinsk was excluded for repeated disrespect of security
issues, it remains to be clarified if this means end of Chelyabinsk group,
because he has been only person from there in a regular contact with the
federation.

It was decided that federal site www.avtonom.org should be put under more
proper control of the federation, delegates chose a collective to run site
further on. There was a discussion on journal "Avtonom", but biggest
controversy developed around federal paper "Situatsiya", which was
criticized for low quality of contents and giving platform to some
authoritarian ideas. Proposition to withdraw status of federal publication
from "Situatsiya" did not gather many enough votes, but general meeting
selected 4 new people to editorial collective of Situatsiya from different
cities in order to settle problems with paper.

Meeting made a unanimous resolution to fight practice of certain groups
claiming to be Autonomous Action without being accepted to federation.
Another, less unanimous resolution was made about procedure of accepting new
members. There was a big controversy on question of increasing powers of
Coordinatory Council, proposition was to give it right to accept new
collective members to Autonomous Action (currently Coordinatory Council may
only accept new individual members). Opponents of this proposal argued, that
decision would turn Coordinatory Council into an administrative organ,
instead of a structure of information exchange and coordination without any
real executive powers at is stands now. It was claimed that resolution would
create bureaucratization, and divergence between a nucleus of "professional
revolutionaries" and a mass of "party members" inside organization.
Eventually proposal gathered majority of the votes, but not necessary 2/3 in
order to be passed. As a compromise, it was decided to give to conference
powers to accept new collective members (currently only general meeting and
referenda have such powers), and also powers to Coordinatory Council to
exclude members in case 2/3 of groups agree with exclusion.

General meeting accepted two symbols for organization - sabocat with a black
and red star, and a logo consisting letters A and D, stylized to resemble
Anarchy is Order (encircled A) symbol.

There was certain disagreement on organization of the next general meeting
of Autonomous Action. Some delegates wanted a more "high profile meeting"
indoors, a spectacular event with an obligatory participation from all
groups. Others argued that a meeting in a forest in form of a camp is not
any worse, because participation of all member groups of the federation is
difficult to reach, and in general purpose of the meeting is not to have a
spectacle, but to organize practical activities of Autonomous Action. No
decision was made about character of the next general meeting, and question
was passed to the next conference of Autonomous Action, which is to be
organized in Ivanovo.

After official closure of the meeting, it was not only a party, but also
discussion on some theoretical texts proposed by Krasnodar comrades.
Unfortunately, meeting had no time to discuss new inter-regional concrete
projects, theoretical questions or general political situation in the
country. But by any measure, meeting was intense and successful, taking into
account that it lasted only two and a half days.

Polina Eliseyevna (translated and amended by S2W)

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