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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Vague d’arrestations d’altermondialistes russes

by Carine Clément, special correspondent in Moscow

Numerous Arrests of Russian Protesters on Eve of Russian G-8

Hervé Fuyet

Translated Wednesday 12 July 2006, by Hervé Fuyet

On the eve of G-8, tension is increasing inside Russia. Access to Saint-Petersburg, where the Russian Social Forum will be taking place, is being especially tightly controled. [see translator’s note at the end]

Already, for several weeks, the Russian secret service and police have been closely watching the Russian activists involved in altermondialist - anti-globalization - networks and other social protest movements. With the approach of the counter-summit and the Russian Social Forum from July 13 to July 16, 2006, the tension is mounting.

Since July 5, there have been numerous “preventative arrests” of activists as they were about to board trains to Saint-Petersburg. These arrests have multiplied as July 13 approaches.

In the night of July 6, six activists of the group "For the Development of the Region of Nahodka” (refering to the far eastern region of Russia) were forcefully taken off the train. At the Tchita train station, one of them managed to phone organizers of the Social Forum, then the six activists simply disappeared ... Just before disappearing, the activists informed us that they had been seriously beaten up.

On the same day, Thursday July 6, when he was already on the train for Saint-Petersburg, Roman Bourlak, of the Movement of Young Communists of Krasnoïarsk, was questioned by the security services. His passport was “stolen”, for which he was subjected to endless identity checks. At one of numerous control-points, the police discovered - big surprise! - dynamite in the coach in which Roman was travelling. At Atchinsk train station (in the Krasnoïarsk region), he was hauled off to the local police station.

In Novossibirsk, Vadim lvanov, a young activist of a radical organization named "Red Youth Vanguard" has been “disappeared” since Thursday 6 July. His comrades were waiting for him on the departure platform, but he failed to show up and his cell phone did not answer.

In Tomsk, a trade unionist of the Siberian Confederation of Labour was also arrested on July 6, the day before his departure for Saint-Petersburg, but he was less fortunate. After a fake hearing on a trumped-up charge, he was imprisoned for 10 days. At present, he is on a hunger strike to protest against this iniquitous quasi-legal procedure.

In Moscow, at around 10 p.m. last Thursday, a group of young anarchists quietly sitting in a park of the downtown area was arrested by the police, because of anti-G8 posters that were on the ground around them where they were sitting peacefully, most of the posters were in pieces ... Following police interrogation, they were released, following a 3-hour legal detention, but their posters were all confiscated ...

In Barnaoul (Altaï), several members of the Young Communists have been forced to submit to repeated police interrogations in the last few days. Theirs parents have been receiving telephone calls from police officers, expressing “anxiety” about the fate of their children. All of this to dissuade young people from participating in the Saint-Petersburg counter-summit.

Such incidents have been taking place in a number of other towns in Russia. This tell us a lot about the government attitude towards the counter-summit. We should add that the Second Russian Social Forum is being held on the 13, 14 and 15 of July at the Kirov Stadium in Saint Petersburg, where a tent village is being set up.

By granting protesters the use of a stadium, the federal and regional authorities claim they are showing their "nobility of soul" and facilitating the protests of the “antiglobalists”. They are simply hiding the repression that takes place discretely behind the scenes.

Moreover, according to information coming from the steering committee of the counter-summit, the authorization to demonstrate (on July 15 in the afternoon) has been refused to the altermondialists and social movement activists.

[Translators note] Our newspaper has received an urgent appeal from organizers of the anti-globalization counter-summit to the G-8 meetings to be held in Russia in a few days. Yury Simonov asked for our support for the Russian Social Forum, little anticipating the repression that would be awaiting participants. We publish this article urgently to publicize the harassment to which protesters of the status quo in Russia are being submitted, not only for this event, but in a climate that is seeking to stifle all progressive social protest.