Two Hundred Rally in Moscow July 1

Against Chechnya War, for Labor Rights and Civil Rights

The following item was posted on the Internet by International Solidarity with Workers in Russia. Click here for the ISWoR web site.

Two hundred people assembled in Pushkin Square, Moscow, on July 1, 2001, for an antiwar rally with a difference. While previous rallies have protested the aggression against Chechens, this demonstration combined its protest against the war and against the violation of the rights of minorities with a protest against the attack on the rights of all working people in Russia.

Reporting on the planned rally, the Novaya Gazeta journal wrote: “War in the Chechen Republic is only a part of the general approach to civil  and social rights. It concerns Russians the same as Chechens. The state does not presume to subsidize and develop its own housing sector, but it has money for the planes falling down in the Caucasian mountains. The authorities do not find the means to provide heat and light to houses in Primorski Krai [Russia’s Far Eastern Maritime Province; capital, Vladivostok], but are ready to promise millions of dollars for the heads of insurgents.

“Civil rights are violated not only in the Chechen Republic, but daily in all the territory of Russia. `Persons of Caucasian nationality’ are regularly subjected to discrimination. Also, wage workers risk losing their rights under the new labor code. And the mass media are being subjected to pressure.

“A weak area of the old human rights movement was its shameful indifference to the social rights of the majority of citizens. As a result, the majority of people reciprocated with indifference to the statements of the human rights advocates. But this shameful ‘tradition’ should be broken. The future of civil and social rights are inseparable.”

The rally, organized by the Movement for a Workers Party (founders of the current campaign against the draconian Labor Code being proposed by the Putin government) and the Movement for Civil Rights, was originally planned for June 24, 2001. However, after the date was reported in the mass media, it was banned on short notice , under the pretext that it would interfere with a cultural festival in Moscow that day.

Speakers at the July 1 rally included Boris Kagarlitsky, A. Shabazov and S. Saraliev  of the Movement for Civil Rights, Ilya Budraitskis, Alexander Gelenin, and Rob Jones of the Movement for a Workers Party, ex-representative of the Chechen government in Moscow S. Beno, and human rights activist L. Ponomarev. The organizers consider it significant that despite the presence of national TV cameras from RTR and TV6 at a press conference prior to the event, there was no television coverage of the event itself.