Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The following appeal is from the Russian anarchist news site Avtonom. It has been slightly edited for English grammar.

Freedom for union activist Valentin Urusov!:
Dear friends!
In July of 2008, in city of Udachniy in Sakha (Yakutia) Republic workers of the biggest Russian diamond mining company ZAO ALROSA formed an independent trade union, which became a member of the independent trade union association SOTSPROF. During two months more than 1000 workers joined the union. But on the 3rd of September 2008 the leader of the union Valentin Urusov was arrested on drug possession charges. Drugs were planted on Valentin, in order to destroy the union and any resistance of the workers. On the 26th of December Urusov was sentenced to 6 years to be served in a work camp.

The city of Udachniy has 15 000 inhabitants and is located in the Russian Far North, 20 kilometers from the Arctic circle(the sort of place that makes Winnipeg look like paradise-Molly). The closest major city is at a distance of 600 kilometers. The city is totally dependent on the diamond monopolist ALROSA and local authorities. ALROSA accounts for approximately 25% of the world's rough diamond supply and 97% of Russia's rough diamond production.

The workers of ALROSA started to demand better working conditions in spring of 2008. Already for many years drivers of the union had to work 70-130 hours overtime a month without a proper overtime benefit. Workers in mines work with outdated equipment and without air heating. Health problems due poisonous air are usual amongst miners.

As demands were not heard by the administration, from 25th to 27th of August workers were on a hunger strike. After the administration announced that they would form a committee for negotiation, the hunger strike was halted. On the 30th of August more than 500 workers joined a union meeting in Udachniy.

The committee should have finished work on the 5th of September, but on the 3rd of September Urusov was arrested on drug possession charges. The arrest, during which 70 grams of drugs allegedly possessed by Urusov were seized, was conducted personally by the chief of the Mirny department of the UFSNK (Administration of Federal Service of Drug Control) S. Rudov, who traveled 600 kilometers specially for the occasion. The witnesses were the vice-director of Aykhal'sk mining plant department of economical safety G. Pustosvetov and his driver.

Urusov himself announced to his lawyer, that he was practically kidnapped from the doorstep of his own home. He was taken to a 60 kilometer distance from his home, where one of the officers of the drug police (UFSNK) forced him to confess that the drugs were indeed his, by shooting three warning shots next to his head and promising, that his death would be announced as an attempt to escape. Right now Valentin Urusov is waiting for a result of an appeal in the remand prison of Yakutsk. Valentin is also suffering from kidney problems, but is not receiving medical aid. His family is in a need of financial help, and human rights organizations are gathering funds to get him a lawyer. If you want to donate, see instructions from

For more information, write to Anarchist Black Cross of Moscow,,

Please send the following appeal for Urusov by e-mail, even better if you can send it by fax as well:
*To president of ALROSA Sergey Vybornov
phone: +7 (411-36) 3-01-80
fax: +7(411-36) 3-04-51, +7 (495) 745-80-61
*To president of Sakha (Yakutia) Republic Vyacheslav Shtyrov
fax: +7(4112) 43-50-55
e-mail: ,
Dear Mr. Sergey Vybornov!
Dear Mr. Vyacheslav Shtyrov!
On the 26th of December 2008 the district court of Mirny in Sakha (Yakutia) Republic sentenced Valentin Urusov, a worker at URMSU "Almazenergoremont" of AK ALROSA, and a leader of the trade union "Profsvoboda" which is a member of SOTSPROF, to 6 years in prison for drug possession charges. Valentin was not using nor possessing any drugs, and he was framed up by officers of the UFSNK.

The lawyer for Valentin Urusov is confirming, that the court was not investigating all testimony which would have proven Valentin innocent, and the court decision was also distorting evidence given by witnesses for the prosecution.

There are number of contradictions in the investigation. Also according to Urusov, during his arrest and the "confiscation" of drugs, he was assaulted and threatened with murder. It is characteristic for the case, that director of the Aykhal'sk mining plant department of economical safety G.Pustosvetov also witnessed the arrest.

Thus we have grounds to believe, that the arrest and sentence of Urusov are a revenge for his union activity in AK ALROSA and a measure to scare off the workers of the company. We know that a number of activists of the union were threatened and repressed as well, with lay-offs, threats and deprivation of a number of payments.

We demand to stop repression against the workers and union activists of AK ALROSA. We demand to stop repression of union activists - workers of AK ALROSA, to free Valentin Urusov, to restore laid off workers and to stop harassment of the trade union "Profsvoboda" in the company.

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