How did we end up here?
For a lot of people, the scandal with Sagynbaev raised questions about which information do solidarity groups have a right to keep to themselves. After all, their decision did endanger people who were there to show solidarity with the repressed.
Certain information should not be open to the public as it can help prosecution and compromise other people . But in this case all the dirt that came to the movement through open sources was actually known to the police long before. So the arguments, that the information would affect the sentences are not standing any critic. Instead Rupression could have written about the critical moments and justify their decision to keep on supporting people. This could have engaged discussion instead of shock that was brought by the liberal media. After all it felt as a betrayal that such important information came from third parties and not the comrades we trust.
Calls for solidarity are heavily based on trust. I trust group A, B or C in their decision to support a person in any given case. I trust that the group won’t put me in a situation where i will be in danger because of some horrible behavior of the person I am supporting. Attempts of a solidarity group to withhold the information are actually affecting other solidarity collectives. Next time solidarity calls from Russia will be approached with bigger skepticism than before. The unconditional trust between comrades is broken because of the decisions that are made in this solidarity collective.
We believe that, only if Rupression would have made their decision transparent, why they support the people even though they had information about the drugs, the snitching, the sexual predator and the murder, only then supporters could have had the chance to make up their own minds. For us as a collective it would have been important in our decision of support to know as well what the arrestees thought about the matter themselves and if they reflected on what they have done.
You make a certain decision based on information that you have, but this decisions influences others. Make sure that you clarify your decision and not keep it all together till the next curious person looks into the story.
Some of the anarchists to address the anger and frustration are actually saying that you shouldn’t expect activists to be perfect. We all have contradictions. However the campaign itself was trying to present activists as perfect people. Otherwise it wouldn’t make sense to hide some inconvenient part of their activist story. Also they wanted to protect the image of the other accused as they were afraid that support for them will stop.
Some of you might think that this story can happen only in Russia with its “wild” antifa movement and tough anarchists fighting Putins iron hand. Make no mistake the problems in Russia are no different than in many other parts of the anarchist movement. And it shows how fucked up the society actually is if people behave like that. Sexual violence is present in the movement no matter where we look. Lack of coordinated approach makes it incredibly hard to help the survivors heal and the perpetrators deal with their sexist issues.
Here in Dresden, right now, we also have cases of violence and sexual assault, which are being ignored by huge parts of the political sphere. In at least one case this led to the point, where the person, who was the subject of violence had to leave the city, while the man is accepted in certain political circles without any changes. It seems that for most people here it is OK to behave like this as long as you have enough skills to support the movement.
The weakness of the anarchist and leftist movement makes contribution to it a main value without figuring out motivation of those people and who they are.
Policies of the movement where we don’t call the police and stick 100% to ACAB, without developing our own concepts in face of personalized violence and serious social problems, made it nearly impossible to deal with such. The state provides prisons and punishment and anarchists can’t provide any reasonable alternative to it. No wonder that people subjected to violence, sexual assault or discriminating behavior decide to drift or leave the movement leaving the space to people like Sagynbaev.
The cult of the cool revolutionary guy exists not only in Russia but everywhere, without consideration what revolutionary movement is. Some of us are getting obsessed with violence and weapons as if it is a goal of its own. Understanding revolutionary goals and being critical is abandoned in favor of action. Revolutionary movement should be strong not because of Rambo mentality but because of our ideas and our community.
Lack of organization inside the anarchist movement is making certain types of predatory behavior possible. It is quite easy to switch from one small scene to the other as those are badly connected and in many cases have existing problems with each other.
As for the drugs inside the case. It is not the first time police finds entrance to a more organized part of the movement through drugs. Here in Dresden 10 years ago police started investigation into antifascist movement (and smashed some parts of it quite successfully) through a drug dealer. And we have no idea how many more cases have been started in the same way. So do check out your risks and decide what is important in current moment of your political activism. Maybe giving up on drugs is a small compromise making your own security and security of those around you a bit harder to penetrate.
To sum up, the story around “Network” case brought a lot of problems that exists in the movement. Our attempt to present ourselves better than we are in reality. Lack of organized approach towards sexualised violence inside the movement. Stupid cult of power and masculinity that produces rather the mentality of the school yard than values like mutual aid, respect and cooperation.
There are no easy solutions for complex situations. People who are now in prison are there for political reason, not for their social behavior.
Either way we do not want people to get imprisoned and tortured. We are against the whole prison system, which is reproducing violence. Prison doesn´t make “better people”. But we also don´t want to support rapists if we don’t see that they are willing to change. People inside the prison are not going to think about patriarchy, moral questions and others boundaries if we don´t address these topics. If we want to change the society and the approach of punishment towards unwanted behavior then we should give people the chance to reflect their behavior and not portray them as heroes or leave them for torture. No matter what our support for perpetrators may look like, we should also focus on the support of those people facing such violence.
1: In many cities in Russia due to repressions drugs are not sold directly to the buyers. Instead of that sellers are making secret drops in the city and than sell drug via internet. Buyers afterwards get coordinates of the drop where they can pick up the drugs.
2: Form of withdrawal of solidarity seems quite weird for us