An interview from "Abolishing The Borders From Below magazine" #21
( http://www.abb.hardcore.lt )
Questions answered by Ligovka Zapatista
1. Do you know how it happened that the G8 summit have been set finally in Russia? Has Putin & Co. any special reasons to have this summit at home exactly at this year?
I think it's just Russia's turn to host this summit. Russia joined the G8 in 1998 and there was no summit here yet.
2. Just to get a general picture: how much the G8-summit in Petersburg is a topic for politically active people in Russia, and for what kind of people?
It is now widely discussed by us, anarchists (of different kinds). To be honest, at the moment I don't know of any other political forces thinking of this kind of things, but we are almost sure that e.g. National-Bolshevik party (NBP) or communists will do some actions. Also maybe some liberals will campaign for Russia's exclusion from G8 because it is not a "democratic country" (this idea is supported by George Soros).
3. Did the pictures from Prague or Genoa reach Russian public opinion? Was the reaction and commentaries similar to those created by mainstream media and set among populations in western world?
Yes, the pictures reached the mainstream media - e.g. I first saw swedish police shooting activists in Goethenburg on the biggest russian national channel. The problem is that most of the commentary on the so called "antiglobalist" (I don't like this word) movement in the media was totally stupid. The mainstream journalists don't understand anything about this kind of movements and are always looking for some sensation or cool pictures of "violent" kids throwing stones. There was one TV-reporter who tried to somehow understand the motivations behind the movement(s) and did a couple of more or less okay reports - but that's an exception. Some right-wing commentators supported european authorities' repressions against antiglobalists because the latter were "barbarians" trying to destroy beautiful western civilisation. One bastard journalist even approved of the murder of Carlo Giuliani!
4. Not many of Russian activists did participate in various anti-summit protests around the Europe last years. Have the costs and visas been only reasons for that?
Yes, there were about 15 anarchists / radical environmentalists from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in Prague 2000 and about 12 in Goethenburg 2001 (and some people in other big protests as well). Of course, costs, passports and visas were a major problem stopping people from going. But also maybe there was not so much understanding why were the protests taking place and what's the reason for participating in them.
5. What were the lessons/analyses/thoughts from the summits in which some people from Russia participated in?
First of all we should mention that Artem from Rainbow Keepers was arrested in Goethenburg in 2001 on false charges of throwing stones (which he did not) and spent some time in Swedish prison - here is one lesson from one summit. Some good articles from the people who travelled appeared in anarchist press (like Volja, Tretiy Put', Novy Svet and Megafon), also there is one good documentary movie from Prague 2000 made by our ukrainian comrade. I hope this materials will help educating activists.
6. War in Chechnya, strong nationalism and paramilitary-organizations, huge poverty, organised and individual daily violence, and finally Putin - his person, his regime and his politics this all is just the top of the problems that people like you have to consider in your daily political work and which are the daily breat of all people living in Russia. Do you think is it possible to set the links between on he one side all these aspects of power and domination and on the other side your protests against the G8, so that the actions in June 2006 appear not out of the space to the ordinary Sasha and popular Tamara? What are the links about you will focus on in next 10 months?
On a local level, let's have in mind that many people in Petersburg still remember the 300th anniversary of the city (2003) with disgust. There were also heads of states coming so the police presence was massive and freedom of movement was much restricted - streets blocked, people could not get home sometimes. Of course we should pay attention to local problems and not just send messages of hatred to Putin or Bush or whoever else. I hope that our propaganda will deal with questions like war, bad environmental situation, housing problems, poverty, rising prices and so on. To be honest, we haven't discussed these topics enough yet.
7. There are some voices that if this protest would be turned into anti-Putin battle then its scale and power could take unexpected size. What do you think about this presume?
I cannot answer this question now. Maybe I'll try later.
8. How much the right-wing social movements can be the problem during the days of protests?
Yes, they can be dangerous. We should pay much attention to the development of (pro-Kremlin youth organization) Nashi and their activities. It is now proven that Nashi are tied to very violent gangs of football hooligans (see previous issue of ABB) and they organised some attacks on activists of authoritarian left-wing movements (like NBP or AKM (Vanguard Of Red Youth); in Ulianovsk one 17-th years old communist died in September after being beaten up).
One should also always remember the story of Tsaritsyno pogrom in Moscow in October 2001, during which 3 people from Asia and Caucasus were beaten to death. About 300 of nazi-skinheads and football hooligans were mobilised (by people connected to state authorities and pro-Kremlin movement "Idushie vmeste" (Going Together, now replaced by Nashi)) to crush the proposed protest of "antiglobalists" near the hotel where some big business meeting was taking place. Some press like national daily paper "Izvestia" were full of stories about evil "antiglobalists" who gonna come to Moscow to destroy everything. Of course, no protests were taking place, so crowd of nazis armed with iron bars went to hunt "non-white"-looking people.
We are not afraid but we need to be careful.
9. What other positive perspectives except of the one of disturbing the 8 lords gathering you see while calling for wide mobilisation against the G8? Do you see this summit more as the challenge you just can not leave without answer or rather as a chance for new dynamic within your young movement and the progressive tendencies within the society?
I would answer yes to both questions. On a local level there is a hope to create more energetic and united movement, cause there are now more young people interested in anarchist ideas. And also maybe the mobilisation against the summit will draw more attention to problems of Russia / ex-USSR from the global anticapitalist movement.
10. The problems to mobilize people from abroad seem to be obvious - people in the west are pointing endless list of the reasons: missing (or too weak) activists infrastructure, unexpected level of repression, visas, borders, language problems, lack of established and proofed contacts with structures in Russia, exotic mentality of people, etc . Would you rather confirm these anxieties or put end to this paranoia? Give you enough time for answering this question
There is nothing so much exotic about Russia, we don't have bears walking the streets or something like this. But yes, there are some dangers if you travel to Russia with activist purposes. Also an example from our previous experience - the environmental campaign in Votkinsk in 2001. There were 3 activists from Finland visiting our camp and all of them got harassed this or that way by state authorities. After that they tried to enter Russia one more time and they were not let in. They will not be able to come here again for at least 5 years or even more. But that's the worst case, of course. Another danger - if you plan come to Petersburg, beware of cops - they like to rob the foreigners. About lack of contacts to Russia - if you are reading this magazine, you already have enough contacts - check out the "communities in struggle" section. And I hope there will be more contacts as we are building this new anti-G8 network.
11. So who is welcome to Leningrad in June 2006 and why?
Personally, I'd like to see all of my friends from many countries here (of course including the whole ABB crew). But it would be just irresponsible to say "okay, everyone come here and we'll have great days of party and protest" - having in mind possible repressions and so on (see previous answer). So, I would say that people interested to take part in the protests and brave enough are welcome.
12. Anything else to add or to spread among about 2 thousands of anarchists world wide reading this magazine?
Please have in mind that there probably will be some international networking meeting(s) taking place in Ukraine (because this country cancelled visas for EU & US citizens) - if you are interested, follow the discussions in the international e-mail lists (e.g. http://lists.riseup.net/www/info/g8-2006) Check out the official website of Russia's presidency in G8 - http://www.g8russia.ru - or try to hack it if you have the skills And also we would be very grateful for all kinds of solidarity actions and donations. If you have any questions - get in touch with us.
Thank you a lot for interview. Our solidarity to you. AbolishingBB