Russian activists take on corporations and military

IssueSeptember - November 2003
News by Sian Glaessner

In spite of mounting state repression of campaign groups - the spurious arrests of ecological activists, the death in suspicious circumstances of Mr Shekochikhin, the Minister of Defence accusing the Soldiers' Mothers Committee of being a dodgy outfit funded by shady organisations - campaigners in Russia are as active as ever on a wide range of issues.

In Azov, Kaliningrad, blockades organised by Rainbow Keepers and Autonomous Action - and supported by local residents and ecologists - continue at the site of a proposed methanol storage plant. Planned only 400m (not the required 1km) from residential areas, the plant endangers the health of nearby residents and the local ecosystem.

On 17 July (coinciding with a visit from foreign investors) activists blockaded the plant for a whole day. Security officials hired thugs as “fake police” to remove them. However, the real police arrived and arrested the fake police. Meanwhile the foreign visitors had a great view of the protest, and the town mayor turned up, gave a speech supporting the activists and cried.

On 8 August, police entered the protest camp, uprooted tents and swore at residents. Two activists were arrested for distributing leaflets and posters (a legal activity) and were held by police for seven hours, during which time they were threatened with torture. Police threatened to destroy the whole protest camp.

The first week of August saw a constant blockade of the main road leading to the camp. On 9 August the protests continued on the Rostov-Krasnodar highway, and outside the police station. The FSB and police, many in civvies, worked together against the protesters, two for each activist there; they were frequently violent and collected the passport details of most activists present.

Topics: Green, Russia