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(en) Russia, Anarchist Protest at the G8-Summit in St. Petersburg

Date Sat, 05 Aug 2006 14:26:12 +0300

a personal experience of the g8 protests in St. Petersburg
Anarchist Protest at the G8-Summit in St. Petersburg
> In Russian prison with a west-European Passport
There were not so many international activists at the G8-protests in St.
Petersburg in July 2006. We were only few who were determined to
protest. Fear for Repression, horror-images of Russian cops and
Russian prisons, at the whole only a confused image of Russia,
language-problems and maybe travelling-costs could be reasons why
only few activists managed to come to St. Petersburg.
A libertarian forum took place in Moscow from 8. – 12.7 in
Preparation of the Protests. Already here fears were spreading: news
from arrested persons who were travelling to the social forum in St.
Petersburg and from arrested persons in St. Petersburg itself;
prison-sentences because of carrying leaflets and the prison-sentence
of German and a Swiss guy of ten days because of pissing; were
causing nervousness. Though the atmosphere was quite repressive; a
successful pink and silver action could be carried through in Moscow
before people travelled to St. Petersburg using different transport
means and transport-routes.

It was difficult to plan an action In St. Petersburg. Because of fears,
because of the low number of activists and because of the difficulties
to meet. It was not possible to meet in a place and to meet in a park
was too much attracting the attention of cops and secret police. We
might have been able to meet at the social forum, but we decided
against it because of the presence of cops and the easiness to make the
stadium a trap for us. But despite all difficulties we were able to meet
again and again and we could plan a blockade at the Radisson-hotel at
16.7. at 8.30 were official delegates of the summit were lodging.

It was clear that it would be a suicide-action and it was clear that the
blockade of the Nevsky Prospect would only take a very short time.
But it was also clear that we were determined to say no to the G8 at
the place were at least some officials stay, despite all difficulties and to
disturb the summit at least a very little bit. They shouldn’t get the
idea that it is so nice to meet in Russia, because there they can meet
without disturbances and protests.

Shortly after 8.30 almost 40 persons ran at the Nevsky Prospekt with
banners and shouting slogans in Russian and English, supported by a
trumpeter. The whole action only took a few minutes, then the cops
dragged us away. But they did not really use their riot sticks. We kept
on shouting with anti-G8 slogans and the cops tried us to stop doing
this, but they were not so violently as expected. Probably the cops got
the order to leave out police-brutality to avoid bad propaganda in the
international press.

But although the cops were unusually disciplined; they
‚forgot’ to introduce themselves and tell us 3 times to leave
the street. Arrived at the police station we made them clear that
communication was impossible without interpreters. And we did not
really understand body language anymore, not even the simple signs.

Our mood at the police station was at first quite ok. We were singing,
laughing, hugging each other and so on. Then the Russian speaking
persons were separated from the internationals. We had the fear that
the Russian speaking persons would be more confronted with
police-brutality as we, therefore we protested against the separation,
but with not much success.

In the meantime we gained more self-consciousness and dared to
refuse to cooperate with the cops. We understood nothing, not even
‚passport’, refused to sign. After a few hours an interpreter
came. We didn’t become food and water. At a around 15.00
o’clock the representatives of the consulates came. They brought
in food and water and told us that we probably had to stay in prison for
15 days.

They told us that we would be brought to court on Sunday before
17.00. Russian activists were brought to court, but were brought back,
because the judge was not there. That meant, we had to wait at the
floor, but we weren’t perched into a cell and we could walk
around. At around 22.00 o’clock it was clear that nobody would go
to court and we were perched into cells, men separated from women.
Later on we were brought to other police stations. The treatment was
ok, we could even leave the cell to smoke and we could keep our stuff.

The next morning, we were brought to another police station were
men and women met again. The representatives of the consulates
came and we got our files translated. They told us our charges
(disturbing traffic, disobedience, touching a cop-uniform). In our files
was written that the cops told us 5 times to leave the street before
arresting us. The G8 was not mentioned in our files. The cops first
told us that we had to sign the papers, but then it was also possible to
read our files without signing them: two guys from the street had to
testify that we had seen our files and that was enough.

At Monday night we went to court and the foreigners were the last
ones who went to court. We met friends who told us that the people
before got 1, 2 or 3 days prison-sentences. Those who got the longest
sentences were those who used their rights (change of judge, debating
the cops as testimonies). All western Europeans were brought back to
a police station were we were brought back into cells. Those who were
free were let out after the metro was not travelling anymore with the
demand to leave Russia in 2 days. In the night the cops did not let us
go to the toilet anymore, despite making noise. Around 4 O’clock
the cops woke us up, gave us our papers and we could leave at 8

Which lessons can we learn?

1) More international support would have been good. Normally
activists do travel to other European countries; also for Russia it would
have been good.

2) Our blockade was a suicide-action because we were so few.

3) As has been prophesied by Russian activists on the forehand:
internationals can protect Russian activists from police-brutality,
because the cops are more careful when representatives of consulates
and international media are watching. Because the situation is more
difficult and dangerous in Russia, internationals should also be present
here. The slogan: „we are everywhere“! should also count for

4) Russian cops are not perse worse or better as other cops. The good
organized work of the legal team and public attention led to a situation
without much police-violence.
5) The solidarity between Europeans and Russian-speaking persons
during the action and the time in prison strengthens the movement.
The legal team did a very good work and there were interests of the
press for the people in prison. Self-consciousness grows after standing
through repression in a successful manner. We showed that it is
always possible to at least do something and the success of an action
does not necessarily depend on its duration.
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