AN ANARCHIST MAYDAY IN THE FORMER USSR:
The following article is taken from the English language section of the Russian anarchist news site Avtonom. It's basically a run down of what happened with anarchists this last May day in the Russian Federation. What has to be noted is the wide geographical extent of these actions, proof that the anarchist idea is spreading rapidly in the ex-USSR. The following has been edited for reasons of English grammar.
Anarchist Mayday Actions around the former Soviet Union :
Anarchists handed out leaflets in the general Mayday demonstration.
In Irkutsk, anarchists from the local group of Autonomous Action joined the common Mayday demonstration, the first year KPRF was marching together with pro-Kremlin "Rightful Russia" and trade unions (mainstream FNPR and alternative Socprof) Altogether there were around 1000 people in the meeting, rather obviously "Rightful Russia" had paid a rent-a-mob. Anarchists gathered at the statue of Red partisans and went to the Sport Palacew from there. The Anarchists raised red and black diagonal flags and banners such as "Autonomous Action", "Self-government is a way to freedom" and "Capital is killing Lake Baikal". The papers "Free Siberia" and "Avtonom" were distributed. During the march, anarchists chanted "Raise the black flag higher, the state is the main enemy!", "Be realistic - demand the impossible!", and other slogans. No arrests were made.
In Izhevsk, Autonomous Action decided to take up a struggle against reform of the educational system as their main theme. Libertarian communists joined the block of the Coordination Council of Civil Movements of Izhevsk (KSGD). Altogether some 15 anarchists joined the block of 150 activists of KSGD. The anarchists had a banner "Students and pupils against education reform" and raised red and black flags. Police got immediately alarmed by the anarchists. The march moved by Lenin street, people shouted "No to destruction of free education!", "Bureaucrats and oligarchs - hands off free education!", "Long live fighting student unions and student autonomy!". There was a strange episode when a group of drunken people tried to provoke a fight. As the police just stood by this was a likely attempted police provocation. Eventually the anarchists managed to get rid of the provocateurs on their own. In Pushkin street anarchists also shouted more general slogans - "Working people, enough of poverty - organise, strike and win!", "The strike is an arm of the working class!", "Worker - strike is your weapon!". "Down with the sell-out bureaucrats of the FNPR (official trade union), long live fighting unions of the workers and a general strike!". Anarchists left the column at office of the president in Udmurtia, as they did not want to join the official Mayday event of the ruling United Russia party. At 10:30 a protest meeting started at the office of the president. At 11:00, after the meeting, some more police harassment followed but eventually the anarchists stood firm and made off without arrests.
This year the anarchists did not join any of the reformist demonstrations, as they considered them pointless. Instead of it some graffiti was made. During the week, anarchists also organised a campaign against police brutality, which included a poll and spreading information about the rights of the people.
In Kiev, activists of the trade union "Zakhist praci", "New Left" and Revolutionary Confederation of Anarcho-Syndicalists made a march from Bessarabian square to the statue of Ivan Franko. Slogans were shouted and leaflets were distributed.
In Krasnoyarsk, 9 anarchists joined the Mayday demonstration of KPRF, which started at 10:00 at the TTs Khameleon. The anarchists had a black flag and red and black diagonal flags, and leaflets such as "40 years from Red May" and "there is no reason for workers to celebrate". People were intrigued by the anarchists and asked many questions. During march, anarchists shouted "Freedom, equality and solidarity". FSB and UBOP officers followed the anarchists, but eventually they did not do any provocations.
Anarchists decided to ignore both pro-Lukashenko demonstration at the national library and the opposition spectacle in Bangalore square. Instead they organised their own illegal demonstration. Some 40 anarchists under red and black flags and two banners moved from the shop "Riga" to Kuybyshev square. 400 leaflets saying "Fire your boss" were distributed. The lead banner stated "Fight for your rights!". Passers by reacted positively. The demonstration lasted some 10 minutes. Conspiratorial preparation made it possible to avoid arrests, but an adverse side effect was the small number of participators.
In Moscow, there were number of decentralized actions - on the previous night one group made graffiti at VDNKh, where the Nazis from the Movement Against Illegal Migration (DPNI) were to gather for "Russian Mayday". In the morning, another group dropped banners around the city. One banner which was dropped from the bridge over Frunzenskaya said "Freedom to the people - death to capital", one banner at the square of three stations it said "No to police brutality".
Eventually there were two main actions - first the anarchists went to join the general KPRF demonstration at Oktyabrskaya. This was for many a controversial issue - since 2002 anarchists have preferred to organise their own autonomous actions, and there have not been any visible anarchist presence in the Bolshevik Mayday demonstrations for at least a decade in Moscow. On another hand, marching with the KPRF gives an opportunity to agitate up to 10 000 people who are there, and show the strength of the anarchists - this year's media favourite , the National-Bolshevik Party, gathered perhaps 100 people and the Vanguard of Red Youth perhaps 40, whereas the anarchist block had 250 people, not including 35 people who got arrested by OMON on their way to the demonstration without any legal pretext. This was the biggest anarchist demonstration in Moscow since the 1920's. The anarchist bloc was quite energetic with a sound system and red and black flags, anti-copyright activists brought a banner saying "Freedom, Equality, Piracy" and LGBT activists brought a banner "No to discrimination against LGBT in workplaces". Other banners included "Capitalism kills" and "Give us liberty". The redskins had their own banner. A number of banners were confiscated by police prior to actions. Traditional anarchist slogans were shouted. The anarchist bloc was kept at a distance of 150-200 metres from the main demonstration, and was it agreed to disperse at metro Borovitskaya, before end of the main demonstration.
After the action, anarchists gathered for an illegal picnic in Metro Sokolniky, where some youths were illegally detained and tortured 4 weeks before. Apparently police had received a hint of the action, as they were heavily present, videotaping participators. Few people were detained, but apparently public pressure and solidarity actions around th e world had worked - all of them were soon released and nobody was tortured. Eventually anarchists managed to have a picnic with acoustic anti-establishment music under tight police surveillance.
(Also photos from Nazi demonstration)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsQYqgB1Ydw (picnic at Sokolniky)
Around 30 anarchists and antifascists marched with a banner "No to the police state" in the general Mayday march. A group of anti-fascists from Apatity also joined the block. Leaflets were distributed; no-one was arrested.
In Nizhni Novgorod, some 40 anarchists marched in central street of the city, Bolshoy Pokrovskoy. Besides Autonomous Action, many unaligned anarchist and subcultural people joined. The leading banner had written on it "Take the streets - reclaim the city!", in the sides "We are your future" and "No to police brutality". Sea torches were lit, people made noise with whistle blowers and by shouting "Freedom, equality, anarcho-communism" and other slogans. Upon arrival in Gorky square, the march turned into Zbezdinka street and dispersed without arrests.
The fifth "Monstration" gathered 800 people marching with slogans such as. "To disabled and those who passed state student examination - free travel on public transport" (this was a pun on reform of education) and others which may hardly be translated. The march was legal and did not break the deal with the city administration, but nevertheless unidentified plain clothes people kidnapped 5 organisers during the action. They soon learned that they were arrested by UBOP officials. Those arrested were released the same day but they were not even given any charges as the police themselves knew about the illegal nature of the arrests. During 5 years of monstration, it has been proven that youth is able to self-organise for development of culture in the city. Fliers distributed listed examples of other cultural events organised by monstrators during recent years. (From monstration website http://kissmybabushka.com/?p=145 )
This year syndicalists from SKT joined the column of the KPRF. They had a big banner "Two in one: cross out miserable wages! General strike!". Red and black diagonal flags were raised. A group of SKT was joined by young punks and RASH skinheads. Five anti-fascists, who tried to wear masks to protect themselves from photographing Nazis were arrested by police. Police tried to harass some punks as well but they found refuge behind the banner of SKT. In general, the KPRF march was lacking spirit but SKT group was shouting loudly "We prohibit to prohibit!", "Long live the imagination!", "Everything is going after the plan, after the plan - workers are sweating, bourgeois are relaxing!", "Land to peasants, factories to workers, streets to lovers!", "Houses to orphans, flush officials!" (Last slogan was related to the longstanding campaign of the SKT to win housing for those raised in orphanages - trans. note). During the demonstration, syndicalists distributed leaflets "A day of riot of the imagination - first mayday 1886 and 40 years from May in Paris 1968".
Anarchists joined the demonstration of official trade unions. During the demonstration police tried to stop the anarchists and take them to police station, but participators of the anarchist bloc managed to resist the attempts, as other, mostly elderly demonstrators were supporting them.
Anti-authoritarians joined the usual Mayday march, holding the banner "People are more important than profit". Leaflets against police brutality and some numbers of the paper "Situation" of Autonomous Action were distributed.
An anarchist bloc of some 200 people marched together with KSD (Committee of Solidarity Actions, organised by some alternative unions and other social movements). People came from different anarchist and anti-authoritarian initiatives, such as the Association of Libertarian Initiatives, Association of Anarchist Movements, Autonomous Action, RASH, Antifa, KRAS, FNB and Pyotr Alekseyev Solidarity Movement. The march went from BKZ Oktyabrskiy in Ligovskiy prospekt through Uprising square, by Nevskiy prospekt to Malaya Morskaya street The finishing point was Isaak square. Unfortunately, Nazis were also allowed to march in Mayday in by a partly different route and they received a rather warm welcome from the police. There was a bloc of African students in the general queue in front of anarchists, but apparently they faced some police pressure and were forced to leave the march. The anarchist bloc had black flags, red and black diagonal flags. There were also banners such as "We do not want a piece from your cake, we want the whole bakery", "Unite, resist" "Freedom to people, death to empires" and "Rights are not given, rights are taken".
In Ufa, Autonomous Action and some supporters of the movement organised an illegal march under red and black flags. More than 400 leaflets were distributed, as well as 200 red balloons with red and black stars and text from avtonom.org. The march went on for more than 3 hours, as the route was 10 kilometres long altogether. After the march anarchists went to the place where workers of Ufa had organised their first Mayday party in 1905 to commemorate revolutionaries of the past.
On the first of May in Vladivostok anarchists and autonomists organised a legal anti-fascist and anti-authoritarian picket, at 3 PM at the statue of Lenin in a square next to railway station. Some 20 people joined the action. They raised a banner saying "We will destroy capitalism, we will win against fascism" and red and black diagonal flags. Some 7 boneheads showed up on the opposite side of the street, they were met with shouts of "fascism won't trespass" and "antifa". Soon the boneheads decided to move to the railway station, one of them attempted to hit a picket with a thrown bottle. Traditional anarchist and anti-fascists slogans were shouted . As many people were coming late, towards the end the number of participants was 40. The organisers considered the action as a success, as it proved to the public that anti-fascists exist in Vladivostok and they are not going to be silent.