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(en) Belarusian Anarchists Visit Liverpool

Date Thu, 06 Dec 2007 20:12:15 +0200

Two Belarusian comrades visited Next To Nowhere last night, to show an Indymedia
video of the mass protests in Minsk last year, and to discuss how west European
activism compares to that of the former eastern bloc. --- The video contained
footage from the abortive 'denim revolution' of March 2006, which followed the
re-election of Russia-leaning president Alexander Lukashenko, over his US and
EU-backed rival Alexander Milinkievic(. As the Bush administration alleged voting
irregularities (pot, kettle, black), a large group of protesters set up a tent
city in the October Square, in an echo of what had happened during Ukraine's
'Orange revolution'. However, there was to be no victory for Washington here,
because massive police repression was able to overcome the protests, which
seemed to lack the working class base of their Kiev equivalents.

The comrades explained that though they did not support Milinkievic(, they were
active in the protests against Lukashenko's government, seeing them as an
opportunity to spread their ideas. Indeed, the videos showed quite a few red and
black flags amongst the blue of Milinkievic(. The male comrade was imprisoned for
taking part.

Radical activism and anarchism seems to be in its infancy in Belarus. The female
comrade remarked how there are no social centres in her land, because activists
are frequently targeted by the state. Radicalism in Belarus was strangled in the
Soviet Union, and Lukashenko has kept much of the Stalinist apparatus, not even
bothering to rename the KGB! However, the neoliberal 'shock therapy' which is
increasingly attacking the living standards of working people will inevitably
provoke resistance in years to come. For example, on 1st January 2008,
Lukashenko will bring in benefit cuts the like of which Gordon Brown probably
only dreams of.

Students, pensioners and 'veterans of labour' are currently entitled to
half-price fares on public transport. Children under three years old get free
medical care. Former inmates of German WW2 concentration camps are given free
medical and dental treatment and free public transport. Victims of the 1980s
Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster, which affected Belarus more than any other of
the then republics in the USSR, have free medical care, 50% lower rents and
cheap housing credit. Military and police personnel got free medical attention
and annual holidays. In four weeks' time, the only section of Belarusian society
to keep their benefits will be parliamentary deputies!

The enormity of our global task struck me during this meeting. The generations
of working class people in Britain, the US and western Europe who won social
gains from their ruling classes are becoming less active and dying off. Those
who survive are mostly tied to the trade union bureaucracy that Thatcher's
children know little of and (rightly) trust even less. Like our young comrades
from Belarus, anarchists in the UK have some theory, but have experienced
nothing except defeat at the hands of the state and its hangers-on.
Of course reinventing the world is not an easy task to set yourself, and it is
by necessity a step into the dark. But in this age of instant global
communication we will learn together, and that is something we went part of the
way towards doing last night.

Many thanks to our guests for coming to Liverpool, and providing us with a
fascinating evening!

Indymedia videos of the 'denim revolution' can be viewed
here [http://video.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/297.shtml] ,
here [http://video.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/304.shtml] ,
here [http://video.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/306.shtml] ,
here [http://video.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/307.shtml] and
here [http://video.indymedia.org/en/2006/03/308.shtml] .

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