Statement of ABC-Belarus on the Anonymous Letter

Starting from April 22 a statement was published on some anarchist resources and sent to anarchist collectives all around the world. The statement was calling to boycott ABC-Belarus as the collective that is supporting Mikalai Dziadok – former anarchist prisoner. Inside of the text anonymous author(s) is trying to prove their point about Dziadok being sexist, homophobic and nationalist – with screen shots of some statements that Dziadok made in different times. We would like to clarify this statement, as it is directly calling to avoid further support of our collective.

First of all, it is worth mentioning that the statement was published several days after ABC-Belarus put a text on the website where the collective was declining support to former “ethnic anarchist” Viachaslau Kasinerau. The text have caused a lot of discussion and some people were not supportive of position that ABC-Belarus is not supporting Kasinarau partly due to his sexist statements, however ABC is ignoring Mikalai Dziadok’s controversy. Without waiting for the ABC collective to form a position about such a question, the boycott call was produced.
Of course it is important to mention who is Mikalai Dziadok – the person that was described in the letter. Dziadok is a former anarchist prisoner who spent 5 years in jail for several direct actions in Belarus. ABC was supporting him during his whole prison term. He was released in August 2015 by official presidential pardon and returned to anarchist struggle straight on. Before his prison term for sure Mikalai had  some ideas in his head that not all from our collective would appreciate. At the same time he got to jail 7 years ago, when both he and the movement were in a totally different state of political development, and back then his expressions were not seen as a sufficient reason to lift out support from him. After the prison there were also some statements that raised the questions. We asked him to clarify his ideas and already sent the letter to many of you, this comment is also available on Indymedia – https://linksunten.indymedia.org/en/comment/view/242307 next to the statement about him. 
Inside he is explaining his position on those topics that he was confronted with:
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1. Nationalism – “I have always been and stay an opponent to every nationalism as an ideology that is antagonistic to anarchism. I have written about it criticising Belarusian ‘ethnic anarchists’”
2. Sexism – Let me begin with stating that the translation of the comment was distorted again. I never tried to conceal that I’m skeptical to western feminism including anarcha-feminism, I see a lot of drawbacks in it. For example, in my opinion, gender is not exclusively social construct, and the differences between men and women is deeper that just a difference of sexual characters. This opinion has evolved after reading scientific works on biology and my personal experiences. I’m ready to substantiate the opinion to any comrade who is able to have a constructive dialogue.
This being said, I have never allowed myself to publicly or privately humiliate women for the fact that they are women (and I don’t let others do it in my presence), to discriminate based on gender, since as anarchist and an adequate person I stand for equality and against any discrimination. All anarcha-feminists that know me personally (and they are quite a few) communicate with me and cooperate within various anarchist projects, disregarding the discrepancy in positions. I don’t think that criticism of some feminist tendencies equals sexism.
3. Homophobia – I was raised in a traditional family and was socialized as a man. From my childhood I got used to perceiving homosexuality as abnormal and shameful. However, my views have changed over time. Though I still find it unpleasant to watch two men kissing, for example (I speak openly about that since I don’t see a reason to conceal what I feel on the emotional level), I stand against any persecution of these people, discrimination of them and putting them to jail. Among my close friends are a few homosexuals and I don’t see a problem to communicate with them. For 5 years I was staying in Belarusian prisons where homosexuality is automatically putting a person in the lowest caste, they are deprived of any rights. These surroundings are extremely homophobic. A gay person there is not considered a human and equated to an animal. I wrote about this caste, about their life and problems in a large article who was quoted and published in mainstream Belarusian media and was translated into English.
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Mind that those are only parts of his words. The rest you can find by following the link.
Taking in account the accusation that were made and reply from Mikalai Dziadok, we would like to clarify that we see him in a process of political development on many issues and readyness to discusion testifies to that. Though we see his recent statements as problematic, at the moment we don’t think it’s a good idea to break all connections with him and refuse the support if needs it at some point. We are not expecting that every prisoner will completely follow our world view – sometimes ABC-Belarus supports even not anarchists, though our priority still is given to those who we believe are standing together in building up the anarchist movement.
Going back to the text itself we would like to point out that most probably it was not made to raise the problems of sexism, homophobia and nationalism inside of the anarchist movement. For example, for some reason the author(s) didn’t mention the case of Viachaslau Kasinerau, who lost our support for simpathising to nationalist ideas, producing sexist comments against anarchists and threatening male and female anarchist for critisising his political ideas. At the same time, another group Revolutionary Action published a call for support for Kasinerau, but strange enough, we don’t see any calls to boykott this group in the letter.
We believe that the main targets are the groups that are actually standing on the positions that are quite the opposite. Trying to attack, those anonymous people somehow are trying to undermine the reputation of such groups using a very convenient weapon – clearing the movement from conservative elements. Interestingly enough, none of the Russian-speaking groups received the letter, since the authors know that a lot of people know us and Mikalai personally and it’s very easy to check the information.
At first we didn’t want to speculate about who might be behind the text – no anarchist group from Belarus decided to take responsibility for the letter. However just recently we received new information. On June 12 a group of Revolutionary action members and supporters (both from Belarus and Ukraine) tried to disturb and attack the presentation of a book by Mikalai Dziadok in Kiev and spread hand-outs that are identical to the ones that were sent in the anonymous letter. Among them was a former Belarusian anarchist prisoner Alexander Frantskevich who in private conversations several years ago was promising exactly the same – destroying the reputation of ABC-Belarus by any means necessary – this was his reaction towards our statement against violence as a means of conflict resolution inside the movement. Since then Frantskevich successfully managed to split the anarchist movement in Belarus and subsequently in Ukraine.
According to the information we have from Ukrainian comrades and facts from the web, Revolutionary action (Kiev chapter) is connected and most probably initiated the foundation of another ABC group in Ukraine (ABC-Ukraine).
We see this as attempt of Frantskevich and his surrounding to split the anarchist movement once again, however now they went beyond Belarus. That said, we are calling to be careful if you are working with ABC-Ukraine and Revolutionary Action groups – we can see even in this statement that people are ready to manipulate facts to prove their position.
We are not going to make this post as screenshots and translations of comments online . No pictures will be attached actually. If you have any questions or you need some extra proves to our words – please write us personally and we will be eager to help you.
You can also make it transparent that you don’t want your money to be directed to certain cases – we had such statements before. Just write us a comment that you don’t wanna support this or that person and we will pass your money to other cases.
How to address the problem of anonymous publications that are opening the eyes of the public to some moral issues in this or that movement? We believe that networks of trust are essential to the anarchist movement working in the atmosphere of disinformation and conflicts initiated by people with different motives. Through those networks of trust we can build up honest communication where there should be no place for statements like that. And we can have critical discussions within our own communities without going down to the level of pulp fiction.
On the other side you can decide yourself if you want to support Dziadok in case of repression or not, however if you decide not to support ABC-Belarus, that would mean that you will cut support for all the rest of the people we are trying to help for almost a decade. However you should remember that we are not a service organisation or a bank that everybody can contact and request money – we are a political group that is supporting people according to our political values – and we also don’t all share identical political views, so we have to come to a consensus on any case we support – so don’t be surprised that we are withdrawing help from ethnic anarchists, for example. Moreover, we take the decision on non-supporting some people based on the discussions that occur in the movement or in exceptional cases we can withdraw our support if we see some actions as desctructive (violence towards each other, collaboration with cops, etc.) You can question those decisions through conversation with us – and maybe you will have arguments that will change our opinion and opinion of the anarchist community.