Repression in Russia and Spain spikes against anarchists

Two major reports from branches of the Anarchist Black Cross have provided insights into the impact of repressive measures being taken against anarchists in Russia and Spain under the guise of “anti-terror” strategies.

In Russia, ABC Moscow has collated an overview of repressions from over the last year.

Here in the prison I have started to feel a deep hate for the modern state apparatus and class society. It is a very important acquisition for a revolutionary. I did have this feeling before, but on a purely cognitive level. Now, this has transformed into a deep emotion. I should thank the Investigative Committee for forming my identity as a revolutionary. ~ Dmitry Buchenkov

The roundup includes shocking testimonials from anarchists who have faced police harrassment, trumped-up charges and in some cases years of imprisonment ignoring the facts. Buchenkov for example is awaiting trial for allegedly attacking policemen and overturning toilet blocks during the Bolotnaya Square protests in 2012. Buchenkov says he was not at Bolotnaya Square that day as he was visiting his parents in Nizhny Novgorod, and the suspect photographed by police (below left) bears no resemblance to the anarchist historian (right).

Elizaveta Tsvetkova from Taganrog, RostovOblast, meanwhile was sentenced to a year in prison for distributing materials critiquing the police. Prosecutors say she put up information about police shootings and torture on public transport stops and light poles the night before Police Officer Day in November 2014. She said:

Maybe I’m just easily impressed, but I think that you can’t stay away after seeing publicity about trials that have gotten a lot of public attention: The case of police officer Evskyukov who shot civilians dead in a supermarket, or tortures in Tatarstan [police department] where a man was killed.

These cases provoke a negative attitude to the illegal actions of policemen. These cases of bribery, torturing and killings should be stopped.

Spain’s anti-free speech laws

ABC Dresden has recently released a highly detailed report on the impacts of Spain’s new citizen security measures, including a law commonly called “Ley Mordaza (Gag Law)” cracking down on public protest and a beefing up of anti-terror legislation which has been highly controversial for criminalising singers, poets, and Tweeters whose lyrics or jokes are deemed to amount to”terrorism apology.”

Stemming from a Socialist Party law proposed in 1984 to try and crush Basque independence movement ETA, the new terror rules allow for punishments of up to three years in prison for anyone writing “apologism” for terror alongside pre-trial detention, essentially allowing oversight body Audiencia Nacional free reign to arrest anyone saying things they don’t like. ABC Dresden has listed some of the worse cases of misuse:

Some recent cases (in between 2009 and 2015 the Audiencia Nacional has opened 1115 proceeding of terrorism exaltation) that have shown how the state is using this anti-terrorist law to banned opinions critical with their policies include:

  • Left-wing rap singer Pablo Hasel was accused and condemned for “exaltation” of the Red Army Faction in his lyrics
  • A 21-year-old got a year in jail for sticking an ETA sticker to a wall in front of police.
  • Poet Aitor Cuervo was accused of doing exaltation because the content of his workand social media  posts (e.g. “The death of a worker is more painful than the execution of a pepero” [Members of right-wing party PP], and got 18 months
  • Def con Dos singer Cesar Strawberry was charged with the prosecution demanding 20 months over some of his lyrics. He was initially released without charge but in January was later condemned to two years in prison by the Supreme Court, without another trial.
  • Puppet/theater players Los titiriteros were detained (and isolated) because of a really bad joke with the line (“Gora ALKA-ETA” which translates to something like “Cheers ALKA-ETA”) which can be considered as terrorist exaltation within the law. They were later released.

The Ley Mordaza goes even further in its efforts to discourage dissent using a combination of fines and enabling legislation to tie the hands of anyone attempting to organise against government policy.

Critics say it is specifically encouraging the mass deportation of migrants on flimsy grounds, the implementation of blacklists against activists, beefing up the power of police statements so any accusation that they have been “disrespected” is treated as proof, gifting police the right to record but denying it to the public, and severely limiting freedom of assembly.

Fines range from €100 for building occupations or unauthorised meetings in public spaces, to €600,000 for major “illegal” demonstrations and in just the first six months of its implementation, 40,000 sanctions were registered worth €18.3 million.

ABC Dresden has posted a long list of some of the ludicrous prosecutions which have taken place under the new laws, including one woman who was fined €800 for posting a photograph of a police car parked illegally in a disabled bay, and a man who was fined for calling an officer “colega” (“dude”).