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(en) Russia, G8 Memories from actions and prison

Date Mon, 24 Jul 2006 09:17:13 +0300

James Bond, fear and the funniest police custody I ever had
(About the background of the protests, the political situation and so on
I wont write much, you can read a lot about it for example on
ru.indymedia.org/int This report is a more personal one)
Midnight on the Leningrad station in Moscow. I feel like a spy, all the
time watching out for civil and uniformed state protectors, who could
assume from my outer appearance some kind of connection with the
G8 protests. I see a lot of known faces, people I have met in the
Libertarian Forum that took place here in Moscow during the last
week. Here at the station we almost don't pay attention to each other,
everybody tries to be the unsuspicious tourist. Only for short moments
people meet to whisper a bit.

Last week, over 100 persons were arrested or stopped when trying to
get to St. Petersburg, so we all see ourselves already in prison without
having even seen the city. When we are trying to get tickets for the
next train, we meet an activist well known by the police who was
already stopped twice in the attempt to take a train. Now he is buying
his third ticket. Every time you buy train tickets in Russia, you have to
show you passport - so the police always know who is taking which

Thats why Elena and me enter our train at the opposite end, go to our
wagon only after the train has left, sleep in beds we have no
reservation for and leave the train in Petersburg also from a different
wagon. I feel like on a secret mission, even though we haven't planned
anything, wont be more than 200 anti-authoritarian activists and are
not even sure where we can sleep and meet each other, not to mention
the actions...

In Petersburg, our undercover existence goes on. There are no fix
meeting places, the activists are spread all over the city, no actions are
planned - to solve this, we need a lot of exhausting secret meetings at
graveyards, in metro stations and in vegetarian restaurants; text
messages that are only speaking about "sight seeing" and "parties";
and eternal, few times productive discussions in two languages... The
fear of repression is everywhere. The consequence of any possible
action seems to be to be beaten up by the cops and get a sentence of
days or even months in prison. Some people are even afraid to be shot
by some crazy anti terror forces. On the other hand, a lot of people
think that if we have made it until here without arrest, we have to
attack the summit at least symbolically, to show, that they cant
intimidate us, that resistance is possible.

While we are walking through the city centre to explore the possible
targets of our blockade attempt, for moments the plan seems to be a
suicide commando. The streets are full of normal police, civil cops and
OMON, the riot forces who are "trained" in Chechnya. We have
doubts to get even to the place of action and imagine standing on the
street for 30 seconds until being beaten up. We dont know how much
people will be there, but we are going to do it even with our small
affinity group. The morning is really exciting. But after the tension of
the last days its good to do something finally. Half past eight in the
morning, there is an unusual number of young people in the bistro in
front of the delegate's hotel in the city centre, and a lot of known
people pass in front. At 8.28 we stand in the bus stop, more and more
people appear, if we wait three minutes more, we can't hide anymore...
Finally, three persons with newspapers appear, directly in front of the
entrance. When they throw the newspapers, we run, in five seconds
there are three banners, we stand in the middle of the street, shout,
play trumpet and whistle. About forty people are here, the traffic is
paralysed, the cops look surprised and have to call enforcement...

It needs some minutes until they begin to take us away, and even this
is not so fast and quiet. Two cops pull me over the ground to the
police van on the side of the hotel. There we have to stand all at the
wall, arms and legs widely separated. We go on shouting, I get a hit on
my head every time I shout and a command to be quiet, and have to
stretch arms and legs even more until I almost cant bear it anymore.
One of the cops tries to push me a roll of leaflets into the mouth:
"Open it! That's delicious!" is the only thing I understand.

At the police station, the atmosphere is really good. One guy is thrown
into the air 29 times for his birthday, once for each year; and all
foreigners play stupid. We don't understand any English, no signs...
"Passport! Dokumenty!" We don't understand. What is he saying?
Please in German! I would like to have a German translator! "Passport
or Bum Bum!", one of the officers says with a clear gesture but
everybody laughs and even he can't avoid it...

The number of especially western foreigners is obviously too much for
the russian officers. Some people from Great Britain are all the time
calling the police station, during the day the different consulates
appear, and unfortunately, an AP photographer and some other
journalists were arrested with us. You can see that some cops would
really like to beat us up, but they are not allowed to. But today they
allow us things that we would have never imagined. We are sitting and
laying in the corridor and every officer has to carefully step over our
legs; we play funny games; like nobody reacts when he is called, they
just take the wrong ones for interrogations; papers with fingerprints
just disappear; and a person who pretended to be British and couldn't
find his passport, some hours later just disappears - it seems that the
door of the police station stayed open for some moments...

Later we are also allowed to walk through the whole station and meet
with the others. In the beginning, they separated the ex-soviet union
citizens from us other foreigners, and for them it was not so funny. In
general they are treated equally because of the huge international
attention, but alo because of our pressure - we don't cooperate at all if
they don't treat us equally, and we would even refuse to be set free
earlier than others. But anyway, the Russian, Byelorussian, Ukrainian
and Moldavian people have to face racist jokes, insults and threats.
Some are pushed around in the interrogation and pressured until
giving a declaration.

Anyway, the mood is generally good. Thanks to the Legal team and
various consulates we have more than enough to eat and at night in
the cell there's a party atmosphere. After midnight, five of us are
transferred to another police station. A cop with a leather jacket and
machine gun is searching us and insults and threatens our
byelorussian comrade. Fortuanately, we are tired enough to sleep in
the narrow cell without ventilation, just on the floor without anything.

On the next day, after a long time of waiting and burocracy, we
foreigners finally get our judgement. It takes place in the evening, 24
hours later than expected. All the 35 arrested persons are accused of
disobedience to the policemen's demands, all with exactly the same
witness reports and accusation papers. We know that we have to
expect 1 to 3 days in jail, the verdict is already made. Like it doesn't
seem to matter anymore, nobody engages an expensive lawyer. Others
are recommended to feel sorry about the action and say that they
didn't know that it was illegal. I explain that there was no legal
possibility to protest against this G8 summit and explain a lot of my
political ideas. Even so, I am one of four persons who get only one
day, while the ex-soviet citizens who defended themselves and
doubted the legality of the police' behaviour, were all sentenced to
three days. For sure not accidentally, it was only western foreigners
who got only one day.

When we are finally allowed to leave after 40 hours of arrest it's
already after midnight, no metro or buses are going anymore, and we
ask seriously if we couldn't stay overnight. But no, they want to get rid
of us as fast as possible and push us to the street...

All foreigners had to leave Russia in two days after getting free. But
before, most of us met again, and even the "British" who had
disappeared from the police station was there...
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