May Day in Moscow

May 1st, 1997

At about 10:20 today in Moscow, a really disgusting scene happened during the unions' annual May Day parade. A group of anarchists and left radicals, marching in the column of the independent trade union "Volya" were attacked by the police on the orders of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia.

Let us state right off that many left groups have long ago broken from the trade union's annual festivities and we too hold our own independent festival or demonstration but still, we, like many others, tend to go to the larger demonstrations as well to meet with the workers and to offer them more radical alternatives than the trade union bosses. Many of us have participated in this May First demo before and we partcipated in the March "strike" without any incident. Today, of all days, we were fewer people than usual (how many people want to meet at 8:30?) and we had brought of course radical banners, but were saving the real raucous stuff for our thing. Much of our literature was for self-management and did not even mention anarchism. The most radical things were banners reading "Death to the State and Capital" and "We'll Take our Pay by Force".

Obviously the "organizers" of this demo (whom, by the way, we know VERY WELL and include some of our ex-comrades who became bureaucrats) had a problem with us being there from the very start and asked the police to clear us out. They can of course now "innocently" claim that they didn't know what the police would do, that they didn't know that the police could beat or arrest us. That's just shit. They understood this - they don't give a shit. All they give a shit about is that there were no people there to tell the workers about what a bunch of traitor-whores they are. The police came and starting beating and arresting people. Three of our comrades were taken to the infamous 108th precinct (where many of us or our friends have been beaten seriously) and several were violently beaten. Now, two of our comrades, Larisa and Nirmal, are in Botkin hospital suffering from injuries inflicted by the police. Both have sustained concussions from being beaten on the head with riot sticks, both with beaten in the kidneys and Nirmal suffered some broken ribs. We will know more about the extent of their injuries later.

The three comrades taken in were fined and released. The police obviously did not want another big scandal. (Last week there were also arrests (Nirmal incidentally was one of those taken in) which led to a press conference and some noise.) At the station they met four Kurds who were also arrested for trying to celebrate May Day. So much for the holiday of workers' discontent.

So such are our fucking trade unions, the ones that try to get the government to outlaw the other unions all the time, the ones who are rich, who are in this all for their political careers. Obviously we are now at full blown war with them.

Despite these unpleasantries, we held our own demo outside of Gorky Park. The weather was georgeous and we had good leaflets but unfortunately they had set up all sorts of carusels and stuff next to our demo and we looked, well a little clownish trying to have a serious demo there. Had we known... but no matter. About 40-45 people came, which was a considerable drop from last year, but, in general there is a more apathetic climate than last year. (The morning's demo drew only about a quarter of the amount that came to the March demo.) After the demo we walked around the city tearing down, detourning and destroying fascist leafelts. (They're here and they're there and they're everywhere.) We stopped at the new Kropotkin statue (well, actually it's Engels, but we were tired of looking at Engels standing at the beginning of the former Kropotkin street, so we changed it a little) and on Gogol Boulevard before heading to the Balaklava Club for the Victor Serge Library party. On the way we agitated people on the metro. (In the good sense and, probably, the other as well.) At Balaklava we celebrated by singing revolutionary anarchist songs from all over the world. Tonight people will hold an anti-fascist concert in the abandoned Lenin Hills metro station. All in all, not a bad day, with the exception of the injuries to our friends. But we will try to answer that in kind.