In the lead up to the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, the Russian police are stepping up harassment of anti-globalisation protesters and socialists.
People making their way to St. Petersburg are facing big problems. For example, a couple of weeks ago, CWI activists in Yaraslavl city were taken to a police station for preventative questioning and warned not to misbehave.
This week, people started to travel to the G8 protests. There were several cases of people prevented from traveling, particularly from provincial cities. One or two who arrived in Petersburg were stopped and questioned for several hours by police.
A CWI comrade from Yaroslavl city, north of Moscow, planned to travel to St. Petersburg.
On the day he was due to travel he went to the rail station to buy his ticket (In Russia, all long-distance tickets have to have a registered name on them). On arriving home, the CWI comrade was called on by the police, who said they heard he was going to St. Petersburg. During questioning, the police asked the comrade what he was planning to do. He was then released. Some hours later, the comrade was again visited, taken to a police station again, and after a while he was released. While he was in the police station the police visited the comrades neighbours. The police claimed that during the previous evening, there was a drunken party and a fight at the comrades address, which he stays with his grandmother. Of course, none of the neighbours heard anything!
In the evening, the comrade took his place on the train. But before the train left the station, the comrade was visited by the traffic police who refused to let him travel. They claimed this was for his own safety. But the comrade was told by the police that if he tried to travel from another train station he would be visited by local police. They would search his baggage and who knows what they would find!
Cops in the kitchen
The flat of another CWI comrade in Yaraslavl was searched by police when the comrade was absent. His parents were threatened. They were told, Things would be very bad, if their son tried to travel to St Petersburg. But the comrade was not actually intending to go to the G8 protests! Several times, the police tried to call in this comrade for questioning.
The most absurd and ominous example of harassment of CWI supporters concerns a young female comrade from Yaraslavl. She was also called in for questioning by the police. She was warned not to do anything wrong. After that, she went to visit her boyfriend in Moscow. Waking up the next morning in Moscow, she found a young policeman sitting calmly in her boyfriends kitchen. The policeman complained he was woken at 4 am, the previous night, by his police boss, and sent on a four hour drive from Yaraslavl to Moscow, to track down the female comrade, to try to find out if she was doing anything wrong!
With most protesters planning to travel to St Petersburg later this week, we can expect more police harassment. Given this, it is essential that when appeals are made, international protests are sent urgently to the Russian authorities (for example, see http://socialistalternative.org/news/article22.php?id=412).