As the summit opened today, almost all demonstrations in the city were either outlawed, effectively prevented by the police or broken by force. Almost a dozen of activists were sentenced to short prison terms (7-10 days) ahead of summit, dozens more were detained by the police for several hours, interrogated, photographed and fingerprinted, prevented from coming to St.Petersburg, beaten and otherwise harassed by the cops and security services throughout the whole of Russia from Nakhodka in the far east to Kaliningrad on the Baltic sea.
As of July 13 at least 10 people were sentenced in St.Petersburg to 7-10 days of imprisonment on charges of hooliganism or participation in "illegal" street actions. Several criminal cases were opened or re-opened against people from different towns in an attempt to put pressure on them and prevent them from coming to St.Petersburg. Activists throughout the country were and are openly monitored by the police. At least 86 people were detained by the police while going to St.Petersburg by train and prevented from participating in the Russian Social Forum and other events in St.Petersburg, forced to return their tickets and come back to their home towns. Many more were talked to and "persuaded" not to go to St.Petersburg. Dozens were detained for several hours when arriving to the city, their personal belongings or even passports being illegally confiscated by the police. At least 9 illegal break ins and searches of flats were reported. These are just cases that became known to the legal team, which assists anti-G8 activists, and these include violations against different social activists – from anarchists to communists to trade union, antimilitarist, environmental and human rights activists.
More arrests and detentions happened in St.Petersburg on July 14 and 15. About 30 people are reported to be arrested in St.Petersburg on July 15 alone.
City authorities and the police effectively prevented any serious street protests in St.Petersburg. Communists were allowed to have a small march and rally in the center of the city, but its less moderate youth part was beaten and taken to police station en masse. Some of the activists may be charged with violent behavior against police officers, which may lead to imprisonment.
Participants of the Russian Social Forum, which was held in St.Petersburg on July 13-15, were not allowed to have a march, although they asked the city hall about it weeks before. Police has blocked them at the Kirov stadium, where the forum was held, and prevented from taking to the streets of the city. About 150 activists held a rally behind closed gates, facing lines of riot police, which outnumbered the activists.
Any attempts to make street action in the city are likely to be met with fierce police repression and violence, but the summit is not over and more actions may follow.
Russian social activists are calling upon the world to protest massive violations of basic freedoms in Russia and ask for support to imprisoned activists. Various solidarity actions were and are being held throughout the world as part of the Global action days against the G8, but state repression in Russia should not go unnoticed. Solidarity is critical for people now held behind bars and probably awaiting serious criminal charges.
We are here for you, you are out there for us!
Protest violation of basic freedoms, state repression and of course the G8 at the nearest Russian embassy, consulate or other state offices in your country!
IMC-Russia international page with update information on protests and the situation of the arrested (English and other languages):
Network against G8 (Russian, English and other languages):
IMC-Russia (Russian language):
Some photos from St.Petersburg: Russian Social Forum, street protests, police repression: