A diary of Russian political activist

Monday 5 May 2008

Worldwide Marijuana March in Moscow: the continuation

After the repressions at Moscow GMM - 2007 we gave up the idea to organize a march and decided to limit ourselves to Cannabis Walk as it was in 2006. Two years ago our action was a great fortune. No cannabis activists were arrested, the police was quite friendly and all the walkers passed the time chatting, singing, playing mouth harps and drums. So this year we hoped to organize something similar.

We published an official statement on the CLL site, so that both authorities and activists could learn that no marches would be held in Moscow in 2008. We offered our supporters to come to the fountain "Friendship of Nations" at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre. There should be no banners or other means of political propaganda: only thematic clothes, excellent mood and musical instruments.

As soon as the statement was published we met the aggressive reaction of the Federal Service of Drug Control (Russian DEA analog). In the interview to one of the most famous Russian news agencies the head of informational department of the FSDC Alexander Mikhailov commented our action in the following expressions:

"Legalization of cannabis as a drug is out of the question. This theme mustn't be discussed at all. Such actions are the grossest breach of the peace and hooliganism. This is a spring exacerbation on which the bodies of internal affairs and psychiatrists should react".

When we came to the "Friendship of Nations" on May, 3rd, at 3 P.M. we found out that the fountain was blocked by forces of OMON and metal fences. Members of OMON and non-uniformed people caught out of the crowd everybody who seemed suspicious to them no matter if it was a Rastafarian, a punk, an emo or just a long-haired guy. In a few minutes 8 persons were arrested without any reasons. Some of them knew nothing about the action and came to the All-Russia Exhibition Centre just to have fun on the holiday. All the journalists who managed to fix the arrests were forced to erase their videos and photos under blackmailing by arrest or spoiling the camera.

40 minutes later I was sitting in a company of 8 or 10 people in 200 metres from the fountain. We did nothing and spent our time chatting and waiting for the other activists, so that we could go to a more peaceful place. We just wanted to change our dislocation when a band of OMON came near us and asked us to stay at our places. As I remembered clearly the last year march and as it was still possible to get out, I tried to run away. I was lucky to reach the exit from the All-Russia Exhibition Centre when a backheel of a non-uniformed person stopped me. Two seconds of free-fall - and I was lying on the ground. As I wasn't able to stand up myself the members of OMON began to beat me. I don't remember the moment I got to the military bus. The left side of my body was injured but the men in the bus denied me in any medical assistance. I could receive some help only in the police department.

The treatment in the police department was much better than last year. Only one guy of about 15 of our arrested supporters was subjected to pressure from the policemen. It took us two hours to understand the reason of our imprisoning. It sounded very funny and absolutely illegal. The matter was that the Federal Service of Drug Control just wanted to speak with us about the harm of drugs and any actions devoted to their legalization. So after 3 hours in the police department all of us were released from custody without any claims, fees or protocols and could continue the Cannabis Walk.

As a result of this amiable speech with the representatives of law I now have a fracture of a clavicle and several less painful but much more effective injuries - a good illustration of their methods of leading discussion as well as a good occasion for further legal struggle.