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09.11.2005

Action in Petrozavodsk against fascism, racism and anti-Semitism

The Karelian branch of the Youth Human Right Group and The Youth Antifascism Center (YAC) organized the action against “everyday racism” on the 9th of November. The action was timed to the International Day Against Fascism, Racism and Anti-Semitism. The main object of the action was to attract attention of the townspeople to such dangerous problem as the problem of dissemination of the Fascism Ideology all over the World, and particularly in Russia. The Youth Human Right Group decided to remonstrance against this terrible trend. They wanted to make an appeal to society to be more tolerant and solidarity.
Ten days before this action the leader of The Youth Human Right Group (YHRG), Maxim Efimov, made the application to authority. (This application is indispensable condition for organizing such public actions in Russia.) The official, who was taking the application wasn’t satisfied with the first version of the application, and he required to indicate more information about this organization. Maxim Efimov executed this request. Nevertheless the local authority didn’t give their permission to this action. Just the day after the action they sent the letter in which officials explained their motives. It is found that Maxim didn’t record in what form the action would be. Maxim wrote the word “action” but Russian laws have not such definition. They have “meeting, mass-meeting, demonstration, procession, and picket”. Thus the official caught at a very insignificant excuse and made the conclusion that YHRG “made the application in a wrong way”.
Anyway the action occurred, but it lasted just 30 minutes. The action had the public repercussion nevertheless. The local mass-media lighted the events. Jewish community of Petrozavodsk, students of two universities, informal groups joined the action. Youth Human Right Movement (Moscow) and United for Intercultural Action (Amsterdam) sent their leaflets, posters, and other means of demonstration. The YHRG advanced the following slogans: “We All Have The Same Mother, Our Earth!”, “Say “NO” to Anti-Semitism”, “People of all nations have the EQUAL RIGHTS!”
Hardly the action had begun, the militia expressed its interest to it. After they found out that the authorities had forbade this action, they detained the leader of YHRG, the organizer of this action Maxim EFIMOV, and YHRG’s press secretary Andrei BARDADYM, who was responsible for public relations. They were under arrest several hours. Several days later they presented the electronic version of the book titled as “Methods of investigating hate-racial crimes”
The next day student discussion club “Pro et Contra” hold a session. Students, teachers, and even the professor of philosophy took participation in this meeting. As a result they raised the claim to Russian Parliament and Russian President to invent the Federal program against fascism, xenophobia, intolerance. “We should make a common cause. Noncommercial organizations and authority can solve these problems only in dialog”- said Maxim EFIMOV, the leader of the Youth Human Rights Group.
Stupid laws
On the 9th of November in Petrozavodsk occurred the action against fascism, racism and antisemitism. The preparation had begun much earlier: activists of The Youth Human Right Group (YHRG) made posters, bills, leaflets. We invited people on the streets to take part in this demonstration. Press-releases were sent to newspapers and television. Our leader notified authorities in advance about this action.
In 15:55 “the Studenchesky Boulevard” was as usual in a working day fulled with walking to and fro people. But suddenly the crowd of young people appeared with journalists, cameras and of course they were being accompanied by our “protector” – militia.
This action was organized by The Youth Human Right Group (YHRG) and The Youth Antifascism Center (YAC). The action was supported by the Jewish Community and “Initiatives Against Fascism” – organization consists of punks and other informal youth group.
So the action was at it’s height: somebody take posters, somebody distributed leaflets. Our position was expressed in our slogans. They contained nothing bad, they don’t were belligerent. Here they are: “Say “NO” to Anti-Semitism”, “We All Have The Same Mother, Our Earth!”, “People of all nations have the EQUAL RIGHTS!”
Passer-bys joined us, they began to help us, they willingly took our leaflets and stickers. The street began crowded. And in this moment the militia officers, who as I thought were protecting us, asked us to show them the authorities’ permission on this action. But it was appeared that officials had not allowed this action. Militia officers interrupted our action. We began arguing against militia actions. One of the officers said: “We have stupid laws in our country, and I have nothing to do”.
Why neofascists’ actions are not stifled and pacific actions are forbidden? “Well, it is our duty, we just have to do it” – it was their replies.
Wait a minute… and what about the freedom of speech? freedom of assembly?
Now that doesn’t matter.
All the same our organization congratulates warmly Militia on The Day of Militia. And we wish them not only to do their duty, but think before they do their duty. We wish the word “militia” associated with the protection and defence. But during the action were several unpleasant situations. Some people scream that all Jews and Caucasian should get away from Russia. And three young men attacked the girl who was distributing leaflets. But everything finished well.
So our action occurred. We hope it will have an effect. Such actions are essential for our society, because fascism, racism, xenophobia are flourishing in Russia.
Alexandra KOSHKAROVA
Activist YHRG and YAC

   © 2006-2008 Youth Human Rights Group. Karelia, Russia E-mail
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