Russia: Socialists face courts fines for holding embassy picket

Visit of Kazakhstan president prompts Moscow authorities’ repression

Four Socialist Resistance (CWI in Russia) supporters were arrested last Friday, in Moscow, during a picket at the Kazakhstan Embassy (see last week’s report on After a few hours, they were released. They appeared in court on Monday 3 April. Although the defendants’ lawyer showed the four had properly followed the procedures required by the state to hold a public picket, the four were fined.

Igor Yasin and Sergei Kozlovskiy were both fined 1000 roubles (around £20 sterling), and Denis Davidov and Sascha Davidov each fined 500 roubles (£10.). These are considerable sums in Russia.

The four plan to appeal the court’s decision.

The reason for last week’s arrests is now clear. The day after the picket was broken up by police, President Nazabayev of Kazakhstan made a visit to Moscow. This visit took place at a time when pro-Nazabayev authorities in the Kazakhstan city of Alma-Ata are persecuting shanty dwellers in the city, as part of their plans to destroy the residents’ homes, so that facilities for the rich elite can be built in their place.

Socialist Resistance (CWI in Kazakhstan) plays an active role in the mass struggle of the Alma-Ata shanty residents. Last Friday’s protest in Moscow, outside the Kazakhstan Embassy, was organised by Socialist Resistance in Russia in solidarity with the Alma-Ata residents. Cleary, the Moscow city authorities did not want Nazabayev ‘embarrassed’ by protests drawing attention to the persecution of the Alma-Ata shanty dwellers, before or during his visit.

Although Socialist Resistance supporters in Moscow followed the bureaucratic and repressive procedures required to hold a public picket – which includes giving police at least 5 days notice and not displaying banners or papers during the picket – around 30 uniformed police swooped on the picket as soon as it started, backed up a dozen or so plain clothes police.

Despite facing state repression in both Kazakhstan and Russia, Socialist Resistance (CWI) supporters will continue to struggle alongside the Alma-Ata residents facing eviction and will continue to publicise their plight throughout the CIS and internationally.

Last week’s crude attempt by the Moscow authorities’ to stop public protests probably highlighted the Alma-Ata residents’ case even more than if the protest was allowed to go ahead. Importantly, the arrest of the four Socialist Resistance supporters in Moscow was widely reported by the Kazakhstan media.

 More protests are planned by shanty dwellers in Alma-Ata, later this week. thanks all those who sent messages of protest from around the world over the arrest of the four. These protests undoubtedly had an important effect, leading to the release of the four after a few hours.

We will report more on the outcome of the appeal of the court fines by the four, and also on the ongoing shanty town residents’ struggle in Alma-Ata.

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