Russian feminists launch anti-war action

Here are two texts from the Feminist Anti-War Resistance telegram channel, addressed to opponents of the Russian war on Ukraine internationally

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March 8: laying flowers, all-Russian campaign

Note to readers outside Russia about the context. First, legislation signed by president Putin yesterday has made all open opposition to the war in Ukraine illegal, potentially punishable with long jail sentences. This is the context for the call to lay flowers at war memorials. Second, men presenting flowers to women on International Women’s Day was a universal practice in late Soviet times, in a patriarchal society in which women bore the “double burden” of paid work and household work. Especially among older Russians, this tradition persists to this day.

We, the women of Russia, refuse to celebrate the Eighth of March this year:

Don’t give us flowers, better to go out and lay them in memory of the dead civilians of Ukraine (about 300 people lost, there are children among them), against whom our country has unleashed aggressive military actions. Or lay the flowers already gifted at the monuments to the fallen: flowers are better than bullets.

From 12:00 to 16:00 o’clock, we invite everyone to lay the flowers at any monument to the Great Patriotic War [i.e. the second world war] in your city. Victims of that war are shamelessly used by the Putin government as a cover while it commits war crimes against civilians of another country.

Feminist Anti-War Resistance: “8 March: laying flowers”

Show the people of Ukraine, women, and children of Ukraine that you are grieving with them, show them that mothers and wives of Russia are not ready to receive their sons and husbands in zinc coffins. No, do not only show solidarity, fight to stop bloodshed!

March 8 is the day of struggle for women’s rights. Today we are fighting for peace for Ukrainian women and men, we are fighting for freedom for Russian political prisoners, among whom there are more and more women every year.

This year, March 8 is a day of rage and mourning for us: we ask you to come without posters and organize minutes of silence while at the monuments. The concept of today’s campaign is standing in solidarity.

For many years, the state propaganda machine has used May 9 [Victory Day, a public holiday that marks the Soviet victory over Germany in 1945] to its advantage. A thirst for war was hiding behind the ostentatious words of peace. We live in the reality of “we can repeat” instead of “never again”. This year March 8 is the new May 9: the day of struggle against militarism, imperial wars, and terrible losses on both sides.

We cannot guarantee that you will not be detained. We believe that if detentions happened at a mourning site, they will only demonstrate the lack of honor and any principles of this police state and an authoritarian regime.

How to join:

Choose any World War II monument in your city (it does not matter how remarkable it is, it could be a stela, a monument, a commemorative plaque, etc.); 

Cooperate with other people in advance or lay the flowers alone;

Have a minute of silence at the monument;

Do not give in to provocations;

Be ready for detention – read the memos of OVD-info;

You can take photos of the campaign and post them with the hashtag #FeministAntiWarResistance so that we can find you.

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How to join our action if you are not in Russia

We know that many people outside of Russia support our resistance. Thank you for that, it meens a lot for us! Many of you write to our coordinators and ask how they can join our action. Here are a couple of ideas:

□ March 6: demonstrations against the occupational war in Ukraine. On Saturday at 3 pm, we gather women’s columns at anti-war rallies in various cities of Russia. You can join the Russian activists by going out at 3 pm local time to the Russian embassy in your city to protest against the war. Or organise your own demonstration. Feel free to use the symbol of our movement and the hashtag #FeministAntiWarResistance.

□ March 8: all-Russian mourning for the dead Ukrainians. On International Women’s Day this year, we will not talk about women’s rights but about those civilians who died from Russia’s military aggression. We call on everyone who is not in Russia to lay flowers at the Ukrainian Embassy in your city on this day.

Please, share this information with others!

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□ Feminist Anti-War Resistance is a telegram channel. Its organisers are anonymous for security reasons. A manifesto, issued just after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was published in Jacobin. Ella Rossman is a contact in London. 5 March 2022.

□ PS. The web site of Suspilne Kherson, a radio station in Kherson, the one Ukrainian city that is supposed to be under the control of the Russian army, is this morning reporting a giant demonstration demanding “Russians go home”. (You will get the idea from the photos, even if you don’t read any Ukrainian.) I don’t know how these things work, and I don’t want to build up false hopes, but I just don’t see how occupying territory with this level of popular resistance is possible over any substantial period of time.

Demonstration in Kherson this morning (5 March). Photo from Suspilne Kherson

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