As the Russian invasion of Ukraine proceeds, anarchists throughout Russia continue to mobilize in protest, joining thousands of other Russians. Here, we publish three statements from longtime Russian anarchist projects that offer some analysis of the situation in Russia and how the invasion of Ukraine might shift it.
Protests are scheduled in Russia for tomorrow (Sunday, February 27). We are still waiting for a report from our contacts in Ukraine, which we will publish when it arrives.
Russia itself has become an information battlefield in the course of the invasion. The Russian government has attempted to block access to Twitter so that Russians will not see what is happening in Ukraine or, for that matter, elsewhere in Russia. On the other side of the barricades, the Kremlin website was hacked. Whether the Russian people decide to support this invasion at great cost to themselves—or to oppose Putin’s agenda at great risk to themselves—may well determine what happens in Ukraine in the long run.
“Peace is a privilege reserved for those who can afford not to fight in the wars they create—in the eyes of madmen, we are just figures on a chart, we are just barriers in their path towards world domination.”
-Tragedy, “Eyes of Madness”
Solidarity actions continued today in Germany, Switzerland, and elsewhere around the world:
Anarchist Militant’s Position on Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
The following statement appeared yesterday on the Telegram channel of Militant Anarchist [Боец Анархист], a collective in Russia whose name we have previously translated as “Anarchist Fighter.”
Our position on the events taking place in Ukraine is clearly evident in our previous posts. However, we felt it necessary to express it explicitly, so that something would not be left unsaid.
We, the collective of Anarchist Fighter, are by no means fans of the Ukrainian state. We have repeatedly criticized it and supported opposition to it in the past, and we have also been the cause of large-scale repression against the VirtualSim operator, done by the Ukrainian security services in an attempt to fight us.1
And we will definitely return to this policy in the future, when the threat of Russian conquest has receded. All states are concentration camps.
But what is happening now in Ukraine goes beyond this simple formula, and the principle that every anarchist should fight for the defeat of their country in war.
Because this is not simply a war between two roughly equal powers over the redistribution of capital’s spheres of influence, in which one could apply Eskobar’s axiom.2
What is happening in Ukraine now is an act of imperialist aggression: an aggression that, if successful, will lead to a decline in freedom everywhere—in Ukraine, in Russia, and possibly in other countries as well. And it will also increase the likelihood that the war will continue and escalate into a global war.
Why this is the case in Ukraine is obvious, as far as we are concerned. But in Russia, a small victorious war (as well as external sanctions) will give the regime what it currently lacks. It will give them carte blanche for any action, due to the patriotic upsurge that will take place among part of the population. And they will be able to blame any economic problems on sanctions and war.
The defeat of Russia, in the current situation, will increase the likelihood of people waking up, the same way that occurred in 1905 [when Russia’s military defeat by Japan led to an uprising in Russia], or in 1917 [when Russia’s problems in the First World War led to the Russian Revolution]—opening their eyes to what is happening in the country.
As for Ukraine, its victory will also pave the way for the strengthening of grassroots democracy—after all, if it is achieved, it will be only through popular self-organization, mutual assistance, and collective resistance. These should be the answer to the challenges that war throws at society.
Furthermore, the structures created for this grassroots self-organization will not go anywhere once the war is over.
Of course, victory will not solve the problems of Ukrainian society—they will have to be solved by taking advantage of the opportunities that will open for the consolidation of society in the instability of the regime that comes after such upheavals. However, defeat will not only fail to solve them—it will exacerbate them many times over.
Though all these are all important reasons for our decision to support Ukraine in this conflict—let’s call them geopolitical reasons. But they are not even the primary reasons. The most important reasons are internal moral ones: because the simple truth is that Russia is the aggressor, that it pursues an openly fascist policy. It calls war peace. Russia lies and kills.
Because of its aggressive actions, people are dying and suffering on both sides of the conflict. Yes, even those soldiers who are now being driven into the meat grinder of war (not counting those bastards for whom “war is mother nature,” who, in our opinion, are hardly people at all). And this will continue until it is stopped.
Therefore, we urge everyone who reads this, who is not unfeeling—to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people (not the state!!!) and support their struggle for freedom against Putin’s tyranny.
It falls to us to live in historic times. Let’s make this page of history not a shameful one, but one we can be proud of.
Freedom to the peoples of the world! Peace to the people of Ukraine! No to Putin’s aggression! No to war!
Anti-war protesters march with a banner in Moscow. Anarchists marched repeatedly with this banner on the night of February 24. According to reports, even after police dispersed the main demonstration, making many arrests, anarchists regrouped and marched again until the police charged and arrested them. The courage that protesters have shown in Russia is humbling.
The Dusk before Dawn
The following text appeared today as a podcast in Russian on the Autonomous Action website.
On Thursday morning, Putin launched the biggest war in Europe since World War II. He hides behind the alleged interests of the separatist part of Donbas. Although the DPR and LPR were absolutely satisfied with the recognition of their statehood, the official entry of the Russian army and the promised one and a half trillion rubles. Recall that for many months, the cost of rent and food prices in Russia itself have been growing day by day.
The Kremlin has made absurd demands of the Kiev authorities—let’s start with “denazification.” It is true that, thanks to their active participation in the Maidan protests of 2014, the Ukrainian ultra-right has secured an outsize position in politics and law enforcement agencies. But in all the elections in Ukraine since 2014, they have won no more than a few percent points of the vote. The President of Ukraine is Jewish. The problem of the Ukrainian ultra-right must be solved, but it cannot be solved with Russian tanks. The Kremlin’s other charges against Ukraine—about corruption, election manipulation, and dishonest courts—would be far more appropriate for the Kremlin to press against itself. Now, Russian troops are, in the full sense of the word, occupiers in a foreign land—no matter how this contradicts the expectations of everyone who grew up on stories about the Great Patriotic War.
Russia has found itself in international isolation. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, [General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party] Xi Jinping, and even the Taliban are asking Putin to stop hostilities. Europe and the United States impose new sanctions against Russia every day.
As we prepare this text, the third day of the war is coming. The Russian army has a clear superiority over the Ukrainian one, but the war does not seem to be going exactly according to Putin’s plan. Apparently, he counted on victory in one or two days with little or no resistance, but there has been serious fighting throughout the territory of Ukraine.
Russians and the whole world are now watching videos showing shells hitting residential buildings, an armored car running over a senior citizen, corpses and shooting.
Roskomnadzor [the Russian government’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media] is still trying to threaten the entire Internet, demanding “Don’t call this a war, but a special operation.” But few people take them seriously anymore. As long as the Internet in Russia is not turned off completely, there will be enough sources of information. Just in case, once again, we recommend setting up Tor with bridges, VPN, and Psiphon in advance.
The effects of the sanctions and the war are just beginning to be felt by Russians: Most of Moscow’s ATMs were out of paper money on Friday. Why? Because the day before, people took 111 billion rubles from banks: in fact, all their savings. The real estate market collapsed, and the construction of residential buildings is the most important branch of the Russian economy. The foreign automotive industry is gradually ceasing to ship cars to Russia. The exchange rates of the dollar and the euro are artificially constrained by the Central Bank. Shares of all Russian companies fell severely. Everyone understands that it will only get worse.
Russian riot police arresting a demonstrator whose mask reads “No war.”
Only Putin Needs This
The Russian reaction to the war in Ukraine is completely different from what happened here in 2014 [when Russia seized Crimea after the Ukrainian revolution]. Many people, including celebrities who worked for the government, are demanding an immediate end to the war. The removal of Ivan Urgant, the leading Russian TV star, from the air is noteworthy.
The vast majority of those who still support Putin are also against the war. The average Putin supporter just now thinks that everything has been calculated, the war will not drag on for long, the Russian economy will survive. Because yes, it’s not easy to live with the understanding that your country is ruled by a deranged person—by Don Quixote with a million-strong army, one of the strongest in the world, Don Quixote with a nuclear weapon capable of destroying all of humanity. It is difficult to realize that, having read second-rate political scientists and philosophers, one can bomb a neighboring fraternal country and destroy one’s own economy.
Reveling in unlimited power, Putin has gradually moved away from reality: there are the stories about two-week quarantines for ordinary mortals who need to meet with the Russian president for some reason, and tables of gigantic length at which Putin receives both his ministers and heads of other states.
Putin has always been a politician who balances the interests of security forces and oligarchs. Now the president has stepped out of this role, having gone on an independent voyage through the boundless sea of senility. We are ready to bet a bottle of the best whiskey that in the near future, Mr. President might experience a coup from his own inner circle.
Russia may meet the year 2023 with some other system of power and a different character in the Kremlin. What it will be is unknown. But for now, it is the dusk before dawn.
In the meantime, protests against the war are taking place in Russia. Anarchists participate in them in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Perm, Irkutsk, Yekaterinburg and other cities. In Russia, it is extremely difficult to organize street protests; this is fraught with administrative and criminal terms, not to mention good old-fashioned police violence. But people are coming out all the same. Thousands have already been detained, but the protests continue. Russia is against this war and against Putin! Come out—when and where you see fit. Team up with friends and like-minded people. Social networks are suggesting Sunday at 4 p.m. as the time for a general protest action. This day and hour is no worse than any other. Download anti-war leaflets for distribution and posting from our website and social networks!
Russian fliers opposing the invasion, reading “You pay for Putin’s war—taxes, closed borders, poverty, service blockages, information vacuum—no war!” and “No to military invasion of Ukraine: peace to the people, war on the rulers.”
Meanwhile, Ukrainian anarchists are joining in the territorial defense of their cities. It is now harder for them than for people in Russia, but this is one and the same defense. This is the defense of freedom against dictatorship, of will against bondage, of normal people against deranged presidents.
To Your Sheep
If Putin suddenly comes to his senses by some miracle, and the war ends one of these days, are we ready to “return to our sheep,” as the French say? It is likely that we will be kicked out of the Council of Europe. Thus, Russians will lose the opportunity to apply to the European Court of Human Rights, and soon the Kremlin will restore the death penalty.
For now, we will return to the news in the spirit of all recent years: right now, the State Duma [a legislative body in the ruling assembly of Russia] is adopting a law according to which a military conscript must himself come to the military enlistment office rather than waiting for a summons. Putin also recently raised the salaries of the police. And the prosecutor’s office, in an appeal, demands to increase the term of an anarchist from Kansk, Nikita Uvarov, convicted in the famous “Minecraft terrorism case,” from five to nine years.
You yourself know what to do with all this.
Freedom for the peoples! Death to empires!
Police escorting an arrestee holding a sign reading “I’m against war.”
The Anarchist Black Cross of St. Petersburg Statement against the War
We, the anarchists of St. Petersburg, strongly oppose the imperialist war of conquest unleashed by the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine. There is no sitting on the sidelines in this conflict and there cannot be.
We believe that a military operation against Ukraine only serves to preserve the current political regime in Russia—to ensure that Putin, who has been in power for more than 20 years, who has unleashed several bloody military attacks, who has repressed dozens of journalists and anti-fascists and opposition activists, who has destroyed freedom of speech and human rights in Russia, who has plunged the vast majority of the population into poverty, can remain the president of the Russian Federation indefinitely.
Those who are culpable for the war crimes that are being committed right now before our eyes—rocket attacks on cities and villages, the killing of civilians, the use of prohibited ammunition—are not only those who give orders and participate in hostilities, but also those who support or excuse these actions directly or indirectly.
We urge everyone by any possible means to demand an end to the war and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine!
-Anarchist Black Cross, St. Petersburg
Eskobar was the vocalist of a Ukrainian rock band called Bredor. Long ago, in an interview, he said a famous phrase, which became a meme: “Шо то хуйня, шо это хуйня”—a succinct way to articulate something to the effect of, “When you are forced to choose between two undesirable options while lacking any alternative whatsoever.” ↩