A Russian trade union, facing a legal threat to its existence, will on Friday make common cause in defence of democratic rights with anti-fascist campaigners.
The interregional trade union “Workers Association”, known by its Russian acronym MPRA, has been deemed a “foreign agent” by a St Petersburg court – a legal measure requiring special registration and extensive audits, and often backed by police harassment campaigns.
The court also issued an unprecedented order to dissolve the MPRA, which was set up by car workers in 2006 and since 2013 has organised among other types of workers.
The law against “foreign agents”, passed in 2012, has been used against a wide range of non-
governmental organisations, from human rights campaigners and election monitoring groups to educational institutions. The ruling against the MPRA, made on 10 January, is the first against a trade union.
The MPRA reacted to the court decision by saying that it would continue its lawful organising activity.
Yesterday the union announced a campaign to defend its right to organise, and called on members to join anti-fascist demonstrations on 19 January – which are held each year on the anniversary of the murder of anti-fascist campaigners Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov. They were gunned down by fascists, in broad daylight, in central Moscow on 19 January 2009.
Update, 21 January. Friday’s demos went ahead in a large number of Russian cities: there are some great photos in this report by the Russian Socialist Movement. In Ukraine, demonstrators marking the anniversary were attacked by fascists, who were protected by the police. In London, an English translation of Markelov’s last article was published to mark the occasion.
The MPRA’s slogans for Friday are “hands off the trade unions”, and “no to the law on ‘foreign agents’ Read the rest of this entry »