To remember means to struggle! Alexei Gaskarov’s call to join the action in memory of Markelov and Baburova.

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To remember means to struggle!

Alexei Gaskarov: Russian anti fascist and political prisoner.


“The 19th January Committee” have published the call of the ‘Bolotonaya prisoner’ Alexei Gaskarov to take part in the meeting in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova on the 19th January 2014.
There are also international days of solidarity with Russian political prisoners and against xenophobia. More information can be found here: http://www.politzk-ru.org/a-call-for-days-of-international-solidarity-18-26-january.html
The original Russian of Aleksei Gaskarov’s call is published here: http://www.politzk-ru.org/aleksej-gaskarov-prizyivaet-uchastvovat-v-shestvii-19-yanvarya.html

As you know, on the 19th January the traditional anti-fascist demonstration will once again take place. Each year I hope that it will be only an act of remembrance of our friends murdered by fascists and that anti-fascism of its own would gradually have lost its significance.

I want to tell you why I would have taken part in the action of January 19th if I had the opportunity. I don’t claim to be completely objective. In jail it is difficult to evaluate what is happening in society as a whole and, perhaps, my judgments don’t coincide with yours.

I can see how, at the instigation of the authorities, the theme of migration has become the leading theme in public discussion. Undoubtedly, nowadays there are many problems in this sphere but there is no sensation that anyone intends to resolve them. Instead of this complex and reasoned strategies are substituted with primitive xenophobic slogans.

The danger of simple answers to these complex questions consists in the fact that a large number of innocent people are suffering because of this. Simplistic demands for the restriction of immigration which are mixed with racist demagoguery and planted in public consciousnesslinked up with the lacerating multitide of social, political and economic contradictions, can easily lead to pogroms and murders.

I have personally observed similar turn of events for the third time. It seems that when a crisis of government leadership becomes more acute and popular discontent increases one and the same scenario is played out.
Putin began building his authoritarian vertical power structure from the start of the Second Chechen War. Against the background of political ‘coups’ (transformations) in Georgia and Ukraine once again mass organisations of nationalists appeared and ‘Russian marches’ took place. At the same time murders of anti fascists took place. One should not forget that Ilya Goryachev, one of the main organisers of legal nationalists and a close friend of people from the Presidential Administration is now under investigation for his implication in the murder of Stas and Nastya.

Now too it is no surprise that “Bolotnaya” is followed by “Biriulevo” with the authorities basically looking on approvingly. See, even if you are a nationalist and patriot, it is difficult to agree with the idea that the Aberbaizhani vegetable warehouses and Vietnamese markets require more attention than, for example, the complete lack of legal liabilty of a man who has sold off and ruined the Russian army.

State television channels assert in a single voice that in Russia there are no political prisoners but that the most worthy occupation for civil society activists seizing migrants in basements. The endless laws prohibiting one thing or another, the frenzied cutodians of the regime, police repression, the destruction of democratic freedoms have become the norm. Even the opposition are ever more attracted by a visa regime with Central Asia.

It sometimes feels that the necessary moment not enough people will be found able to reawaken society’s conscience, a conscience hypnotised by xenophobia and racism. All one needs to do is not to notice nor to intervene to ensure that one morning we will be living in a completely different country.

If these words of mine make any sense to you, please go on the anti fascist demonstration on January 19th.

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About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at http://giuvivrussianfilm.blogspot.com and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

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