To show their solidarity with the housing-movements in Marseille, diverse housing initiatives in St. Petersburg together with the “Movement of Civil Initiatives” planed a small rally, which should form the ceremonial framework for handing over an open letter to the french president at the french consulate in St. Petersburg. An official request to carry out the mini-demonstration opposite of the french consulate was handed in to the authorities, only to get a negative decision back: The demonstration was not allowed, because the foot-trafic would be disturbed (hardly ever anybody uses the narrow sidewalk) and the fence separating it from the river Moika would not hold the weight of five people (which is a joke, of course).
An alternative was proposed by the clerk in charge: a small rally can take place in the city center, just before the police would get attentive and send the small group away. This alternative of course would not fulfil the function of the planed event: far away from the consulate the letter of course could not be handed over to the consul, but rather would cause incomprehension of bypassers, the rally being totally out of context. Rather, the proposed “version” of the event would maximally fit the authorities: First, once more, civil initiatives would turn out to be insane people doing incomprehensible things, and second, the interests of the french government would be preserved on russian soil, which according to the local political culture is “protecting” it from the people. In this way the friendship between the two presidents should be affirmed once more.
Understanding the idiocy of the act, eight people of different initiatives met in the city centre and unroled their flags and solidarity-transparents with the movements in Malmoe. But rather than letting the prepared police arrest them at the spot, after some introducing remarks by Evgenyj Kozlov (DGI) and Vesna Tomse (urban.lab) they moved further to the french consulate. Unfortunately, also there a bunch of police agence waited to hinder the handing over of the letter and Evgenyj Kozlov was controled.
Discussion with the police forces
Only a phone call to the beforehand alerted press secretary of the consulate made the action a successful one. He personally invited Evgenyj Kozlov to the consulate, giving the civil initiatives the opportunity to express themselves, and even was ready for a group foto. Now the Movement of Civil Initiatives is waiting for the answer of french president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Evgenyj Kozlov is being controled
We don’t expect from the russian burocracy to be informed about the event taking place in Europe or to know about the fact, that our combatants in Marseille will be welcomed for a dialogue next monday. But we expect to be treated like citizens with rights, for instance the right to express ourselves. Or the right to housing.
The press secretary leaves the consulate to invite speaker Kozlov
Happy end: group foto with the consul’s press-secretary
Text: Vesna Tomse Photos: Vesna Tomse (sorry for the poor quality)
See the text of the open letter to N. Sarkozy: