Overview of repressions against anarchists and antifascists in Belarus in 2018

At the beginning of the year everybody were shocked by “Network case” in Russia where anarchists were tortured and detained. According to the FSB, a chapter of the “Network” also operated in Belarus. The KGB hasn’t publicly reacted to this statement, however, we noticed increased efforts to recruit youth associated with the anarchist movement in different parts of Belarus.

Winter

At the beginning of February 2018, the KGB started investigating a regional educational organisation Critical Thinking. One of the volunteers was summoned to an informal chat via phone – previously he had been detained together with Russian anarchist Piotr Ryabov and sentenced to a fine for “public display of Nazi symbols”[1] and the confiscation of his hard drive. At the same time, his mother was called for an informal conversation. Several friends of this volunteer were picked up by the police, questioned and later released. The police was interested in the activity of Critical Thinking, as well as attempted to force people to sign cooperation papers[2].

On February 8, the anti-extremist police in Mogilev visited parents of an activist. They were asking about their child’s activity, her political interests and so on. The flat was searched with a warrant issued under a criminal case initiated in 2017, when red paint was spilt on Lenin’s statue in the city. The raid happened in one more flat of parents of another activist. This activist was considered a witness on the same criminal case [3].

Anarchists Kirill A. and Igor M. were sentenced to 3 years of limitation of freedom for burning down a billboard with police advertisement. A third person in the case is still on the run.

In February, the police was also visiting activists who were detained during protests against the law on social parasites in 2017. Officers were coming to registration addresses and asking questions about the current activity of people. Some were informed that the examination was performed under a criminal case started on March 15, 2017 [4].

On February 23, two policemen from Brest kidnapped a punk in Stolin, brought him to the forest and started pressing him to give information on local anarchists. At some point, they asked him for his last wish and pointed a gun to his back. Moments later they were offering the person money for information on local anarchists.

On February 26, a raid happened in Minsk in the flat of a social activist. According to the police, they were searching for weapons, explosives and other interdicted materials. Nothing of that was found in the flat, however, cops confiscated a laptop, a phone, hard drives, newspapers and leaflets. Apart from that, cops seized his father’s knife. The activist pointed out that several weeks before the raid police had been calling and inviting him to come for a conversation – he declined the invitation. He connected the raid with an attempt of the police to punish him for that. The interest of the police can be connected with his active stance on the developments in Ukraine.

Spring

On March 12, Svyatoslav Baranovich [5] was sentenced to 3 years for attacking police officers during 15 March protest against the parasite law. Baranovich was helping anarchists to escape the detentions and in a scuffle punched one of plain-cloth cops.

On March 26, activist Ilya S. was fined 200 euros for ignoring calls to come to the KGB for an informal conversation.

From March, information started appearing about anarchists getting banned from entering Russia. Those bans are given to the people arriving to the country through formalised borders where after the passport control they are told about the ban. The logic behind these actions is unclear. Among other things, it can be connected with the collaboration with the Belarusian secret police or the “Network case”.

An antifascist Y. who was planning to go to Moscow for work was detained in spring. He was accused of publishing a Nazi propaganda video and charged with incitement of ethnic hatred. The video was shared on his private page and was actually accompanied with a comment ridiculing Nazis. His house was raided and he spent several days in custody. He is awaiting trial.

On April 19, anarchist Fyodor B. was detained by the anti-extremist police on charges of distribution of pornography. However, the cops were not interested in the video on his social networks, but rather in his activity in the anarchist movement, his contacts and private life. Currently he is under travel restrictions.

On May 3 in Stolin, three anarchists and anti-authoritarian activists were raided and questioned by police. Cops were interested in anarchists and punks – who is organizing concerts, how people from Minsk are coming to the events and so on.

On May 6, Aleksandr K. was visited by the police who questioned him about the action that had happened one day earlier in Brest, when the M1 motorway had been blocked shortly in a protest against the construction of a battery factory. He refused to give any official testimonies and only gave information on his alibi for that day.

In the early morning of May 16, the police broke into a flat of Ilya M. conducted an inspection[6] of his place. They said that the raid was happening because of the blockade of M1 motorway. Computers, mobiles phones, flash drives and a photo camera were seized.

It is also known that police raided one flat in Baranovichi in connection with the same action. Apart from that, in Minsk anarchist Roman was raided as well.

Anarchist Vanya K. was raided on May 18 – cops were searching for extremist materials. Clothes with the inscriptions “Animal Liberation”, “Anti-Globalism Marvin School” and “Destroy Capitalism” were seized. Apart from that, they took hard drives, flash drives, phones and letters.

At the end of May in Brest, the police raided a flat of an activist because of some graffiti painted in another town. They checked his computer and clothes. They seized one book.

Summer

At the beginning of June, one of the antifascists fans of FC Viktoria was arrested. He is suspected of distribution of pornography on the internet. Similar cases against football fans were started in Gorodeya, Ivatsevichi, Gorki. There were several similar situations in Minsk. It seems to be a coordinated attack against active football fans.

On June 30, special task forces and anti-extremist police attacked an anarchists camp in the forest next to Krupki town. After shooting into the air all participants of the camp were forced to lay on the ground. Then activists one by one were forced on their knees to speak out their names on camera. All in all, the whole raid lasted more than 8 hours with activists spending most of the time laying on the wet ground under heavy rain. Police seized literature and called forest service. Two activists were charged with illegal removal of plants and distribution of extremist materials.

In July, at an anarchist conference “Pryamukhino Readings” in Russia police detained a Belarusian anarchist Artem M. He was charged with consumption of drugs (Artem refused to undergo a medical examination). He was also told to leave the territory of the Russian Federation within 5 days on the grounds that he “posed threat to national security”.

In July, anarchist Nikolay D. was detained next to his house. The same day the court ruled to fine him 100 euros for the propaganda of Nazi symbols. The case was connected with his anti-Nazi post on Facebook several years ago.

The same day the court sentenced Maria R. to a fine of 110 euros for a photo in a hat with “Class War” inscription that had been previously ruled to be extremist.

At the end of July, police started performing inspections of flats of those who had been detained in the forest previously. Relatives of some were questioned as well.

In August, the police came to Vanya K. to question him about the raid that happened earlier in May. The cops said that the charges were changed from distribution of extremist materials to a hate crime. Vanya refused to talk to the cops. The police told the parents of the activist that he might be connected with the anarchist group Wave Belarus and this was the main reason why repressions started.

On August 29, a presentation of the human rights initiative “Pravovoye Deystviye” that supports antifascists and anti-authoritarian activists was sabotaged – the owners of the place cancelled it at the last moment.

On August 30, the court ruled ACAB and СЛОН (Death to cops from knives) slogans on the clothes of football fan Aleksei S. to be extremist. Afterwards the police raided his flat claiming that they were searching for evidence of hate crimes.

Autumn

At the beginning of September, in Grodno group of people saw a fire in the woods. They called a fire brigade but on the following day they were held for 8 hours in a police station where cops were trying to charge them with the fire as one of the people in the group was an eco-anarchist. In the evening, all the people were released.

On October 12, cops raided the flat of Aleksandr K. from Brest. He was accused of putting a leaflet on one of the houses in the city. During the raid, the cops were not interested in leaflets, instead they seized a laptop, phones and other devices.

At the same time, the police raided the house of Dmitry L. seizing the hard drive from his computer.

On October 14, both were questioned at the police station. After that they were hold till the end of “pigeons feeding” action (weekly protest in Brest against the construction of the battery factory).

On November 2, in Grodno a musician Ales D. was fined 250 euros for reposting information in social networks from an anarchist group that was ruled to be extremist.

Two weeks later antifascist Vladislav S. was fined 150 euros for a similar act. Back then, Vladislav was serving a sentence in an open penal facility (where he is allowed to leave prison for work). The administrative case might have been an attempt of the police to start a new criminal case against him for breach of conditions.

In the same city on November 20, Aleksandr G. was fined 300 euros for propaganda of Nazi symbols and the distribution of extremist materials.[1]

And winter again

On December 2, six activists were detained for putting a funeral wreath to the statue of 19th century policeman.

In Brest, at the beginning of December antifascist Dmitry K. was sentenced to 2 years of freedom limitation (similar to a house arrest). He was accused of a fight in the bar, where a drunk man attacked Dmitry. Dmitry fought back, and 6 more people came to help the drunk. As a result, Dmitry and several other fighters suffered minor injuries. Both sides didn’t want to press charges, however, the police charged only Dmitry with the accident.

On December 11, an art-activist from a theatre laboratory Fortinbras was sentenced to 110-euro fine for an action “Deconstructing militia” that happened several days earlier. The action was held in support of the LGBT community.

Three days later Dmitry Poliyenko was fined with 400 euros for avoiding preventive conversations at the police station. One more court hearing was planned on December 19, however, activists didn’t go to it, so results of the hearing are still unknown.

On December 27, Nikolai D. was fined with 400 euros for the propaganda of Nazi ideology[1] (another post in Facebook).

We are also aware of several more cases for shares on social networks. Apart from that we got information of multiple raids and informal talks with antifascists. Information on those cases is not public.

The good news


On April 25, antifascist Thomas K. who was previously serving a sentence for a fight, got an improvement of serving conditions and was transferred to serve the rest of the sentence at home.

On October 24, Dmitry Poliyenko was released having served 2 years in prison for an attack on a road policeman during Critical Mass. During his time behind the bars he experienced multiple problems in prison caused by the prison administration.

Anarchist list of extremist materials was extended by 2 brochures, 3 leaflets, 1 sticker. 5 internet websites were blacklisted, including the website of Anarchist Black Cross Belarus. “Class War”, “Terror machine”, “ACAB” and “СЛОН” also ended up in the list of extremist materials. From now on, distribution and storage of these materials can be prosecuted as an infringement.

At the same time, cops from anti-extremist police are actively creating fake pages in social networks, where they are publishing materials on anarchists, including pictures and private information they got during illegal raids. One of the pages is created in name of an anarchist who was a suspect in an attack on the KGB building in 2017. On this page, the police is publishing profiles of different anarchists and antifascists with the description of their lives, interests and some information that can be considered provocative inside of the anarchist movement. And, of course, links to extremist materials from this fake pages are not investigated.


1: Currently, the police is using this article to prosecute antifascists and anarchists for some pictures of Nazis or antifascist symbols that include swastika (like crossed or broken swastika).

2: This cooperation papers make you an official informant of the police or KGB. In 2015, a scandal broke out because it turned out that a number of the right-wing opposition youth signed these papers, including top activists.

3: The police usually performs raids at activists’ places who are listed as witnesses to charge them directly after the raid.

4: On that day, over 30 anarchists and their supporters were detained after protest against the parasite law. During detention the police used pepper spray in public transport to get activists out of the enclosed space. Later on the Ministry of Internal Affairs announced initiating criminal proceedings for an attack on the police with pepper spray.

5: https://abc-belarus.org/?p=11506&lang=en

6: Under Belarusian administrative law, the police can inspect living places of citizens without any criminal case if they have enough reasons to believe that there is something suspicious going on. This became one of the favourite tactics for raids in the country as it doesn’t involve fabricating a case for raids.

Armed political police attack an informal anarchist get-together in Belarus

Several people were charged with illegal usage of forest resources and distribution of extremist materials after political police with support of task forces attacked an informal anarchist encounter. Around 20 participants were at the camping site at that point.

On Saturday 30 June special task force of police attacked the camp shooting into the air. After a few minutes all the activists were forced on the ground by a crowd of people armed with machine guns and shotguns. They were accompanied by chiefs in plain clothes but wearing masks. When anarchists started asking about the reasons for this circus one of the cops said that they had a report that somebody was illegally cutting trees in the area and shooting in the forest. Other cops were answering, “you are not stupid, you understand yourself why you are here”.

Tents were searched for illegal materials. Merchandise from several groups was confiscated under the pretext of distribution of extremist materials. All activists were put on their knees and filmed by the cops. Some of the anarchists were beaten up several times for asking questions or refusing to do what cops wanted. The cops were trying to push at least one person to give false testimonies and when the person didn’t agree, he was also beaten up. During 7 hours people couldn’t eat or drink, going to the toilet was the whole endeavor. During the whole period of raid it was raining and people had to stay on wet ground, the most impudent were put under the rain as a punishment.

In the end the police left the forest without any detentions giving everyone a subpoena to an interrogation about extremist materials that were seized. It is expected that repressions will continue and those repressed will need money for the lawyers. A lot of “extremist” materials were confiscated and will never be returned which is a huge financial damage to those organizing local distros.

Those willing to support the Belarusian anarchists can donate to Anarchist Black Cross Belarus – donation options

It is not the first time Belarusian political police with support of the special task forces go to the forest to take care of illegal gatherings. In 2016 cops raided a punk concert in the woods, confiscated all the equipment and detained dozens of people.

Rest in Power Anna

Our hearts are heavy with sadness today as this weekend we learned of the death of our friend and comrade, Anna Campbell.

Anna was killed in a missile strike in Afrin while fighting with the YPG.

Anna was a core member of the Empty Cages Collective and an active organiser in many anti-prison projects and campaigns, including Community Action on Prison Expansion, Smash IPP as well as Bristol Anarchist Black Cross. She made organising a joy.

She was a dedicated anarchist deeply committed to fighting for liberation. Her list of engagement in social struggles is long, from hunt sabotage to student occupations. She was a passionate feminist and proudly queer.

Like, Louise Michel, her favourite historical anarchist, social revolution was the deepest of her desires and is what took her to Kurdistan.

Anna died on the frontlines where she wanted to be – defending a revolutionary movement. She will be deeply and desperately missed by friends and family. Her courage inspires us to keep fighting for liberation, and for the destruction of the state and its prisons.

“We revolutionaries aren’t just chasing a scarlet flag. What we pursue is an awakening of liberty, old or new. It is the ancient Communes of France, it is 1703; it is June 1848; it is 1871. Most especially it is the next revolution which is advancing under this dawn.”
– Louise Michel

Source

Independent Russian Reporter’s House Searched by Security Services

A Statement by the Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union

In the early hours of January 31st, Russian security services stormed the apartment of @Pavel Nikulin, a co-chair of the Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union. We can assume that Pavel’s apartment was searched in connection with an article he wrote for the New Times magazine in March 2017. The article, titled “From Kaluga With Jihad,” was removed from the magazine’s website after a court found it was “publicly justifying terrorism.”

Nikulin’s attorney says Pavel had been summoned as a witness in a case based on article 205.3 of Russia’s criminal code: “undergoing training for terrorist purposes.”
All of Nikulin’s electronic devices were seized by the authorities, along with copies of moloko+, a zine Nikulin edited and published, as well as some T-shirts bearing the magazine’s logo — items with no conceivable connection to the “Kaluga terrorist” case.

We don’t believe in coincidences. Just a day before this incident Pavel picketed the headquarters of FSB, Russia’s largest domestic security agency, to protest against the detention of fellow reporters Sasha Bogino and David Frenkel in Saint Petersburg. Bogino and Frenkel were barred from covering the trial of Igor Shishkin, a prominent anti-fascist activist (). They were later detained for attempting to gain access to the courtroom, in a clear violation of Russia’s own media law which guarantees reporters access to state institutions.

The Union believes that being designated a witness in a terrorism case is a direct threat against a reporter to prevent them from carrying out their professional and public duties. We are convinced that yet another case of harassment against journalists by Russian security services has only goal in mind: to silence, to force into self-censorship, to avoid covering “risky” subjects and voicing stance on civic issues.

We demand that the harassment of journalists is ceased immediately and will do everything in our power to secure the release of Pavel Nikulin from detention so that he can safely resume his professional activities as a reporter.

Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union

Another Venezuelan Anarchist Is Severely Beaten By Cops

Gianni Scovino is a young man of 33 with Asperger’s syndrome and a member of the Turtle Foundation (Fundación La Tortuga [http://www.fundacionlatortuga.org/]), a participant in the punk scene, and an anarchist media activist using materials from El Libertario [Venezuela’s primary anarchist periodical] on his Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt5E7TuSaxrHPyoXF07LlZg/videos), where he puts up videos in both Spanish and English.

On July 13, he was savagely assaulted by members of the Bolivarian National Police (Policía Nacional Bolivariana [PNB]) and the Bolivarian National Guard (Guardia Nacional Bolivariana [GNB]) in the parking lot of the Grand Central Commercial Dairy Plaza (Centro Comercial Plaza Mayor de Lecherías) in the state of Anzoátegui while he was on a recycling run for the Turtle Foundation. A video of the attack is available on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5e5NDx7Ues

[Translator’s note: The Chávez regime and now its successor, the Maduro regime, refer to themselves as “Bolivarian,” in an attempt to paint themselves as the successors of Simon Bolivar, the leader of the 19th-century uprising against Spanish colonialism.]

After being brutally beaten by the PNB and GNB with nightsticks and with  shields used as battering rams, he was held for 36 hours at Detachment 521 of the Command of Zone 521 of the GNB, before being transferred to a medical facility for treatment. At present he’s recovering in the Hospital of the Venezuelan Institute of Social Insurance.

Those responsible for the attack on Gianni are GNB first sergeants Osmel Zambrano Márquez and Joel José Díaz Carreño, and second sergeants Julio César Gómez Mata and José Gregorio Trébol Pinto, as well as the PNB attaché Luis Ramón Cova León and PNB officials Xavier Alexander Díaz Salazar, Elio Antonio Díaz Maigua and José Alejandro Villegas Olivero.

The violent assault suffered by Gianni is symptomatic of the constant violence in Venezuela for the last 100 days, in which, since April 1, more than 3,500 people have been detained, an incalculable number have been injured, and there have been police raids on civil and residential sites. Thus far 303 Venezuelan civilians have gone before military tribunals. And more than 100 people have been killed.

We’re making an international call to our overseas anarchist comrades for solidarity in the face of the attacks on the people of Venezuela during this uprising of the people. Silence is complicity with a dictatorship that oppresses, tortures, and jails anarchists.

Let indignation become rage against the oppressor!

With Gianni and all of the Venezuelans rising against the regime, we remain the anarchists in the popular uprising.