Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Solidarity campaign Sep 17-20; judges rule Alexei and Maxim remain in prison for 2 more months

International days of action in solidarity with Khimki hostages

On September 17-20 solidarity actions took place in various cities of
Russia and the world as part of the international days of action for the
release of Khimki hostages.

People from different countries and political strands have responded to
the call of Russian activists, who organized Campaign in support of Alexei
Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov. They were united by the understanding that
Alexei and Maxim are held under arrest without legal grounds and that the
prison term of 7 years, which they may get, is also disproportionate.

Solidarity always was a powerful weapon in the struggle for freedom and
justice, and now public pressure may prove to be a more powerful
instrument than the work of attorneys in the situation when Russia's
judicial system is controlled by the state. The recent decisions to held
Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov in prison, which was pronounced on
September 26 and 27 respectively call for further action on our part.

Even before the official start of the internationals days of action, the
campaign de facto started in Novosibirsk (Russia), where local artists
made an installation which called for the release of Khimki hostages.

Activists of Antifascist Action in Zaporozhye (Ukraine) carried out a
series of actions as part of the solidarity campaign with Russian social
activists, who were subjected to repression, arrests and torture for their
involvement in the struggle for preservation of the Khimki forest.
Throughout the week preceding September 17, activists in Zaporozhye
distributed leaflets, informing people about the 'Khimki case'. At the end
of the week they mounted a banner on one of the city bridges, which read
'Free Khimki hostages!'

On September 17 a full scale international campaign — International days
of action — has started.

On that day about a dozen and a half activists from Sweden, Denmark and
ex-Soviet countries held a picket in front of the Russian embassy in
Stockholm (Sweden). Activists with banners handed out leaflets informing
about the case. They have spoken to the staff of the embassy and delivered
to the latter a collective letter of protest demanding to stop repressions
against activists, free the arrested and stop destruction of the Khimki
forest. The letter was to be passed on to the Russian ambassador. Although
this was a rather small action, it couldn't be ignored by the staff of the

The same day a group of antifascists held an action in front of the
Russian consulate in New York (USA) demanding to release the Khimki
hostages and stop repressions against activists. About 20 people took part
in the protest and a letter was delivered to the Russian consul.

In Omsk (Russia) anarchists organized an illegal action in support of
Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov. At 6pm they unfurled banners 'Free
Khimki hostages!' and 'Authorities' argument' (the latter featured a
police baton and a chain-saw). The leaflets they distributed informed
about the case and called on the people to put pressure on the authorities
in order for Alexei and Maxim, who were taken hostage by the state, to be
released. This was a rather fast protest, which lasted for about 15
minutes, after that the activists dispersed before the police could

On the following day, September 18, actions continued.

On that day antifascists and social activists in Kiev (Ukraine) made a
demo and a street performance in front of the Russian consulate. Actors in
black clothes with black sacks on their heads were tied with the
three-color ropes, which symbolized the Russian flag. This performance
illustrated how the Russian state treats its hostages. The 'hostages' had
tags on their clothes - 'antifascist', 'social activist', 'political
activist' - which gave the real reasons for their arrest, interrogation
and charges against them. One of the actors, who had bruises on his face,
signed a blood-stained paper, which was his 'sincere acknowledgement' of
crimes. This illustrated the actual state of the arrested when they
signed their testimonies in police stations, as in fact many of the
detained people later informed that they were tortured by the police
(following police repression against activists in Russia after the Khimki
demonstration three people were also taken to hospital with bruises,
broken skull and bruises from asphyxia). The protesters shouted 'Free
Khimki hostages!', 'Free Solopov and Gaskarov!', 'Plant trees, not jail
activists!'. The protest was organized by Antifascist Action and
Revolutionary Confederation of anarcho-syndicalists (RKAS), activists from
various independent trade unions and leftist organizations also took part.

On the same day, September 18, about 70 people gathered in front of
Karstadt store in Dusseldorf (Germany) to support Alexei Gaskarov and
Maxim Solopov. Mainly activists of various left and antifascist groups
participated. The place of gathering was chosen for a reason — Karstadt
stores have Vinci company as its business partner. In Russia Vinci is
involved in financing the destruction of Khimki forest and the events that
surround this. Vinci's affiliate, Vinci-Park, for several years has been
servicing Karstadt's car parkings and they plan to broaden their
cooperation in future. Dusseldorf's Schadowstrasse is filled with people
on a Saturday afternoon, so the activists managed to distribute about
5,000 leaflets informing about the case. Many people showed their interest
in the case.

In Krakow (Poland) local sections of the Anarchist Federation organized a
solidarity action in support of Alexei and Maxim. Protesters unfurled a
banner which read 'Free the defenders of Khimki forest!', made speeches in
Polish and Russian demanding the release of the arrested. In spite of a
Saturday evening, there were some employees in the embassy — a bus was
standing nearby, the state flag was up and some of the windows of the
embassy opened. After a 10-minute picket in front of the embassy when
protesters chanted 'Wolność nie zginie, kremlowskie świnie!' ('Freedom
will not die, Kremlin pigs!'), they then marched to the central square of
the city to distribute leaflets. Of course, police intervened and checked
the IDs of the protesters for about 40 minutes. During that time activists
made public speeches about the Khimki case and state terror.

In London on September 18 Green Left and Socialist Resistance organized a
conference. One of the speakers at the conference was Hugo Blanco, a
well-known Peruvian revolutionary. He also signed a leaflet about the
International days of action, writing to Maxim Solopov, who studies Latin
Speaking at the conference was also one of the supporters of the Campaign
for the release of Khimki hostages.

September 19 was the most packed day in terms of actions.

In Moscow (Russia) a rally was organized by the Campaign for the release
of Khimki hostages. The Campaign is an independent initiative composed of
various social activists and groups, which share antifascist and
non-authoritarian left views. The aim of the Campaign is the release of
Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov, who were illegally arrested following
the protest action on July 28 in front of the Khimki town administration,
and an end to repressions against antifascists and defenders of the Khimki
forest. About 300-400 people took part in the rally. During the protest
activists signed and collected postcards in defense of Alexei and Maxim,
demanding from the Russian authorities to release them. The activists also
gathered signatures under a petition for an alternative variant of
auto-route between Moscow and St.Petersburg, which will preserve the
Khimki forest. Several special issues of newspapers were distributed at
the rally, informing about the problem of the destruction of Khimki
forest, the situation of the arrested and the cases of illegal detentions
of activists. About $500 was raised for the Campaign by private donations.

In St.Petersburg (Russia) on the same day there was a rally and a concert,
which gathered about 150 people. Activists of various environmental and
social groups took part, as well as the members of Autonomous Action and
Socialist Resistance. The speakers supported Alexei and Maxim and pointed
out to the public that the methods used in their case are becoming more
common in Russia. Musical support of the rally came from 2K band.

In Petrozavodsk (Russia) about 30 activists gathered on the city's main
square to support arrested comrades and demand their release. Throughout
the whole picket music was played with drums and horns. Activists were
drawing posters and pictures, which were to demonstrate solidarity with
Khimki hostages. Leaflets were distributed and money were gathered to
cover the legal expenses of the arrested.

In Yaroslavl (Russia) a picket was held by the activists of Socialist
Resistance and Socialist movement 'Vpered' ('Forward'). Posters and
banners informed passers-by about the case, leaflets were given out. Many
of the people on the street already knew something about the case, others
expressed interest. The picket was monitored by several uniformed
policemen and some people in plain clothes (probably the staff of the
Ministry of interior's notorious anti-extremist 'Centre E'), who illegally
prevented the demonstrators from chanting slogans.

In Irkutsk (Russia) anarchists and antifascists held a picket under the
banner 'Free Khimki hostages!' The action was also supported by local
environmental group Baikal Wave. Leaflets were handed out, about 50 people
signed the postcards in support of Maxim and Alexei.

On September 19 two street actions in support of Khimki hostages were held
in Tyumen (Russia). A single-person picket was made on one of the main
squares of the city, while a concert was organized in one of the city
parks. About 50 people attended the concert, including the anarchists and
local people. Information was provided about the case and banners were

In Izhevsk (Russia) on September 19 the second of the two planned actions
was held in support of Alexei Gaskarov, Maxim Solopov and all the
defenders of the Khimki forest, which faced repression by the state. The
rally was organized by Autonomous Action and attracted about 40 people.
Banners read: 'Free Khimki hostages!', 'Stop unlimited power!', 'Criminals
cut trees, authorities cover up!' Reaction of the local people was
positive, some even joined the demonstrators and held banners.

In Ternopol (Ukraine) local anarchists and antifascists held a rally on
one of the central squares of the city. They handed out leaflets, chanted
slogans. This draw some attention from the local municipal bureaucrats,
among others.

In Paris (France) anarchists and antifascists held a protest action during
a Russian film festival at Forum des Images. Before the screening of one
of the films the activists intervened, unfurled a banner demanding freedom
for Alexei and Maxim and informed about 150 movie-goers about the case.
Speeches were made in French and Russian. Leaflets stylized as fliers for
a movie were handed out which read: 'The Battle of Khimki. Repressions in
Russia are not a movie'. Administration of the movie hall and security
tried to stop the intervention, but failed. The audience supported the
activists with applause. The audience was also invited for a rally outside
of Russian consulate in Paris, which was scheduled for the next day. On
September 20 several dozen people gathered in front of the embassy to
demand freedom for Alexei and Maxim.

On September 20 actions in solidarity with Khimki hostages were held in
several cities around the world.

In Thessaloniki (Greece) protesters unfurled their banner in front of the
Russian consulate and gave a letter addressed to the consul to the
security guards. The latter delivered the petition and the consul came out
to talk to the demonstrators. He was asked by them to deliver the petition
to the Russian authorities. Ten minutes later special anti-riot police
forces arrived to the consulate and forced the protesters away from the
building. The action then continued on a nearby Metropolius street, which
was blocked for several minutes. Leaflets were handed out to passers-by.
This action was organized by Antiauthoritarian Movement.

In Athens (Greece) activists of the Greek Social Forum and a deputy of the
Greek parliament, Dritsas of SYRIZA party, organized a picket in front of
the Russian embassy. They were met by about 50 anti-riot cops. After some
40 minutes Mikhail Savva, advisor-envoy of the embassy, invited the
protesters for a talk. Demands to stop repression against Russian
activists, to stop destruction of the Khimki forest and to release Alexei
and Maxim were presented to him. Activists of the Social Forum stressed
that forest destruction worries them because it's one of the reasons for
climate change.

In Hamburg (Germany) a rally near the Russian consulate was held, as well
as a spontaneous demonstration through city streets in spite of the rain.
About 70 people gathered before the consulate, speeches were made, slogans
chanted, music played. After that protesters took to the streets and made
a spontaneous march through the city, which ended at the central railway

In London protesters picketed the Russian embassy. The picket was
organized by Socialist Resistance, but members of other groups took part
as well. About 200 leaflets were handed out, people asked the
demonstrators about the case, the destruction of the forest and the
situation of the arrested.

Two weeks before that a group of artists from 'Chto Delat'?' ('What is to
be done?') group organized an exhibition 'Urgent Need to Struggle' at
London Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), special issue of the group's
paper in English was distributed. The group also regularly publishes
updates of the situation on its website.

In Rome (Italy) antifascists of Partizan group held a small, but beautiful
action — an enormous banner was posted on one of the city walls.

In Kharkov (Ukraine) on September 20 a group of Marxists, anarchists and
antifascists picketed the general consulate of Russia. Protesters demanded
the release of prisoners and denounced the actions of the Russian
authorities. Kharkov activists know the style of repressions only too
well, because they had faced the same when struggling against the
destruction of local Gorky park. Banners read: 'Free Khimki hostages!',
'Free Gaskarov and Solopov!', 'People before profits!', 'Khimki, we are
with you!' Staff of the Russian embassy refused to take a petition
addressed to the Russian interior minister Rashid Nurgaliyev.

In Saratov (Russia) a picket was held on one of the central squares. About
30 people participated. They held banners in support of the Khimki
hostages, some of the slogans linked the struggle against destruction of
the Khimki forest to local struggles against deforestation. Several
hundred signatures were gathered under the petition to free Gaskarov and
Solopov and about a thousand leaflets were handed out.

In Cheboksary (Russia) student activists handed out several hundred copies
of a newspaper devoted to the Khimki struggles on September 20. Later
during the day two banners were placed at a local railway bridge - 'No to
repressions!' and 'Free Khimki hostages!'

Actions of solidarity on September 20 were also held in Istanbul (Turkey),
Luzern (Switzerland) and Berlin (Germany).

In Bochum (Germany) about a thousand leaflets informing about the case
were distributed near local G+H Unternehmensservice enterprise, which is
part of Vinci group.

In Kazan' (Russia) local anarchists and antifascists handed out leaflets
and carried out a sticker and graffiti campaign during the International
days of action in support of Gaskarov and Solopov. Banners were also
placed on city streets. About a thousand leaflets were distributed on
September 20 when two pickets were held in different parts of the city.

Actions in solidarity with Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov continue. The
Campaign will not cease its activities after September 17-20. This is
extremely important, especially after the decision of the judges to keep
Alexei Gaskarov and Maxim Solopov under arrest for two more months before
the court, which were pronounced on September 26 and 27.

We will continue the fight until Alexei and Maxim are free!

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