St Petersburg Anarchist Statement about G8 Summit - another take
On 15-17 July in Strelna, which is the suburb of St.Petersburg (Piter), the next summit of G8 is to take place. Unfortunately the resource of protest movements of Russia does not enable us to prevent this meeting. Yet, some organizations plan to take their own actions during the summit.
The main campaign of reformist organizations in Piter will be within the framework of the Second Russian Social Forum (RSF), which will be held from July,11 till July, 15. The RSF organizers – trade union, human rights and left movements – are now negotiating with president’s administration and city authorities. The complex of buildings of the former Kirov Stadium on Krestovsky island has been allotted for the Forum. Also, during the RSE a left reformist demonstration is going to be held in the city center and a meeting near cruiser Aurora.
Last autumn a number of activists of Anarchist and Autonomist movement united into the Network Against G8 (SPB8). One of its principles is refusal from cooperation with reformists in preparation of protest actions during G8. Moscow activists of SPB8 concentrated their efforts on organizing Alternative Libertarian Forum in Moscow. Yet, in February 2006 at the international autonomist-anarchist meeting in Kiev it was considered necessary to hold anarchist actions in Piter as well. In particular the participants of the Kiev meeting agreed to hold “big open Anarchist action” on July,15. It was decided to discuss its details at Alternative Forum in Athens in the beginning of May. Unfortunately, we could not do this as almost nobody from the foreign comrades who had taken part in Kiev meeting came to Athens.
On May,28 some practical matters concerning actions in Piter were discussed at a meeting of Anarchist, Autonomist and radical protest movement of Piter and Moscow. Now definite decision on the May,15 action was taken; some of the comrades also supported the idea of using the RSF premises for Anarchist activity, which does not fully agree with the SPB8 policy.
The main difficulties of holding actions in Piter during the summit are connected with the police regime, which has been strengthened by the authorities before the summit. The city is stuffed with police, who constantly check the documents. There are video cameras in the central streets. The police received special armored vehicles to disperse street demonstrations (equipped with gas, water-throwers, shooting with unwashable paint). The forces of Piter Anarchists are limited – there are several dozens of people in permanent groups and up to 200 can be mobilized for demonstrations. The usual police practice in Russia is considering all actions not sanctioned by the authorities as illegal, which, if you take into consideration the experience of “police anti-terrorist campaign” in the North Caucasus, makes them rather risky – but not impossible.
An additional problem is the lack of material resources. Piter Anarchist League (many of its participants also belong to SPB8) has not yet received any money for preparation of anti-summit activity. This does not enable us to rent any rooms to accommodate people who could come from other cities and countries. May be our Moscow comrades will give us support in the nearest future. With our own resources we can put up a few dozens of people. Anarchists who consider it acceptable to use the resources of RSF can use their premises for accommodation, but this would increase the problem of police control. Anyway, each comrade who comes to Piter should better bring a sleeping bag and a polyplene rag and, if possible, a tent.
The problem of practical actions during G8 will be decided depending on the number and the opinion of the comrades who come. As a minimal program we can suggest to form an Anarchist block at RSF demonstration – with our outspoken refusal to propose any reformist slogans and demands (as the problem for us is not the particular decisions taken by G8 but the very existence of all government institutions). Radical criticism of reformists does not mean that we encourage violent actions during RSF demonstration. Those comrades who believe that force must be used and understand the risk involved can do it at a different time or in other districts of the city.
We believe that it is worthwhile to establish contacts with participants of different protest movements at the RSF as well; moreover, we are interested in cooperation with non-Anarchist (e.g. left radical and human rights organizations) whose approach to some problems, like fight against facism and colonialist policy, is close to ours. Besides, RSF premises can be used for meeting of activists of Anarchist and Autonomist movements – with this aim we suggest that some of our comrades who can help to solve any problems that may arise are always on duty at the forum.
We hope to discuss with the comrades who will come to Piter a number of problems which Anarchist movement now faces. This will depend on the interests of those who will come and on the possibilities which will not be blocked by police and security.
Every week on Sundays from 2 p.m. till 4 p.m. we hold a picket in the city center against colonial militarist policy of Russian authorities in the North Caucasus. It is not yet clear if this action will be held on the 16th – it will depend on the position of the city authorities as well as on our determination. One of the problems may be the language barrier – unfortunately not all of us know foreign languages enough. Though this problem can be solved, our foreign comrades should be aware of it.