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(en) Russia, Azov protests update 28th of August 2003

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 28 Aug 2003 20:51:56 +0200 (CEST)

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photos from Azov actions (mainly from action of 9th of August):
Protest campers and local inhabitants of Azov decided to
move protests from Azov to Rostov-na-Donu 25th of August, since
the Rostov oblast governor Chuba is in any case the main
person responsabile for the ecologically disastrous methanol
terminal project. Aim was to organise a symbolical
"funeral of the nature of Azov", where local inhabitants
would lay flowers in front of the Rostov oblast administration.

This planned ultra-peaceful and ultra-moderate action provoked
repression which reached a completely absurd level.
Hundreds of police were mobilized to stop this "funeral possession".
Action was planned to take place 11 AM in Rostov, but soon after
6 AM every local train from Azov to Rostov (which is 45 kilometres
north from Rostov) was searched by police, and two
blockades were set in the road connecting Azov and Rostov.
Every bus and mini-bus was searched for potential demonstrators.
Two free buses organised for Azov inhabitants were never allowed
to leave for Rostov. Among dozens of people arrested in the
road were 4 elderly persons, who seemed to be travelling to
a real funeral with their flower buckets, and for sure
much more people who just happened to have flowers with them
for a reason or another were stopped.

Infamous Rainbow Keepers activist Aleksandr "Dees" Zimbovski was
kidnapped by police already the previous day to do the remaining
8 days from the 15 days sentence he had got from co-organising
the protest of 9th of August. He had not finished the sentence
last time, since he had declared a dry hungerstrike, and when
he had been sent to a hospital due to weakened condition he
had not returned to prison. Dees declared a new dry hungerstrike
immediately after his arrest, but according to our current
information he has not yet been released although he has
been fasting without water 4 days already.

Protest campaign headquarters (an abandonded building in Azov)
was raided 7 AM, fortunately most of the people had left
for Rostov in small groups already 5 AM, so only 7 persons
were arrested there. Besides Rainbow Keepers, many delegates
from 3th general meeting of the Autonomous Action which
was finished the day before in a secret location in Azov outskirts
headed for the Rostov. But due to total control at least 12
anarchists were arrested on the road, and only 5 made
it to Rostov - 4 to be arrested later on in Rostov (among
them Marina Popova who was sent to Rostov prison to continue
his sentence for action of 9th of August, she has now joined
the hungerstrike of Dees), and
the single anarchist who made it there could only watch
small picket going on
from outside a square, completely sealed by police and
guarded by 3 busloads of the notorious OMON special forces.

Local inhabitants succeeded a bit better than anarchists, since
one of them managed to make it to the protest with a bucket of
flowers, which was however torn away from him by police
on the spot. Some 20 Rostov
ecologists were picketing with this single Azov inhabitant, together
they posed a horrible danger to the law and order in Rostov oblast.
Generally those heroes who managed to make it to the square
were not harrassed anymore, since there was a lot of media present.

Of course police had not any legal pretext for arrests,
formally they did it for "clearing the identity" of people,
for which Russian police has a right to arrest people
for 3 hours. But everyone was kept more than 4 hours, and
subjected to abuse, searches, harrasments and FSB interrogations.
Some of the arrested faced serious trumped up criminal charges.
One Finnish participator of the camp was kidnapped to Rostov from Azov,
FSB was obviously trying to find a pretext for his deportation
from Russia although he had not broken any laws.

Unfortunately in the very same morning mindless terrorist
act took place in Krasnodar, only 250 kilometers south
from Rostov, so to some extent public attention was directed
out from the huge police repression which maybe also got
some legitimization due to terrorists. It is sure that blockades
around Azov had no connection to Krasnodar bombs, since they were
set up hours before explosions in Krasnodar.

Most of the activist have had to leave the camp due to end
of the holidays, but some Rainbow Keepers and Autonomous
Action militants are planning to stay in the spot until
October. In another hand all-out over-reaction by police
forces has proven that protest campaign has really succeeded
to make political elite afraid, but repression has also
gained some results, and many Azov inhabitants are now afraid
to continue protests. Some hope however remains, 21st
of August campaigners were told that construction is now
halted without a time limit, and a commission to look
issue of ecological problems has finally been set up.
Decision by oblast authorities to stop construction seem to
be a real one, but there is also testimony that construction
still continues.

And so does the repression, 26th and 27th of August from 9 AM to 7 PM
two cars with antenna and retranslator were spotted
near protest headquarter, so obviously FSB is now tracking all
discussions taking place in the camp.

Backround of the problem

Methanol is a strong poison influencing nervous system, and has a strong
cumulative effect. ZAO "Asovprodukt" majority of which is owned by Italian
multinational Triboldi, is constructing a terminal which will store 25 000
cubic meters of
methanol to be exported via Azov and Black seas. Construction site is in the
city of Azov, which has 80 000 inhabitants and is located 45 kilometres
south from Rostov-na-Donu which is the biggest city in South of Russia. More
than 7000 people have participated to biggest protest actions in Azov.
Planned export of methanol will be 400 000 tons annually. Sanitary and
security zones around such objects should be one kilometers by Russian
legislation and 7 kilometers by Italian, but in Azov terminal is being
built 400 meters from closest houses. One accident with a tanker will be
enough to destroy ecological system of the shallow Azov sea.

Update is written by activists of Rainbow Keepers and Autonomous Action.
Previous updates have been dated 21st of July, 2nd, 8th
and 12th of August.

For more information:

Rainbow Keepers: duplo1@mail.ru, vty2@mail.ru
dees@mail.ru, new_wave_don@rambler.ru, rkrostov@rambler.ru
(better to write to all e-mails at once)

Follow continuous updates in Russian language from Autonomous
Action-website, www.avtonom.org or Russian indymedia,

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