Khimki Battle videos

Some videos first giving a general back ground to the conflict and then videos from different occasions during the course of events in the Khimki Battle. The original text describing the video at the Youtube web site is in italics. When the original text is in Russian it is translated rudimentary with the help of google translate. Some of the videos especially about the general back ground is in english, most videos on the day by day course of events in Russian.

General back ground:

December 10, 2009

A good starter is this main stream TV program made by the Russian media channel RT (www.rt.com). It describes well the Khimki forest with nice pictures and then the director of Greenpeace Russia in the studio explains for the journalist why it is in need of protection and what is wrong with Russian protection of forests, in English. “Khimki Wood or highway, Money or Nature!”

July 29, 2010

“Protest’s to Save Forest” – A good general picture of the conflict is given by this Al Jazeera news made by a reporter that goes out into the forest and covers the course of events in English broadly July 29.

Russian environmentalists armed with fireworks and molotov cocktails have a stormed a town hall building near Moscow, the capital. They trying to stop the destruction of the Khimki forest, one of the last natural woodlands on the edge of the city. The area is in the path of a proposed highway, an eight billion dollar project connecting Moscow to Saint Petersburg. And environmentalists have accused “hired thugs” of trying to evict them from the forest. Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker reports.

August 1, 2010
General about the conflict early August, AFPTV, Agence France press TV (in Russian), the describing text in English: Russian demonstrators have hurled smoke bombs and smashed windows in a rare violent protest against the building of a road through a forest outside Moscow. Dozens of local residents, environmentalists and anarchists have been gathering in recent days to save the Khimki forest, highlighting a growing trend for Russians to demonstrate about civic issues. A natural sound version of an AFPTV report:

You have to go to the youtube web site to see this as embedding is not allowed by AFPTV.

Course of events in the Khimki battle:

November 24 2009

Music video : Khimki district was the most green area of Moscow region before the arrival of the current administration. Portraying the Khimki mayor and the protests.

Video message to the president of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. The leader of the Movement for the Defence of Khimki forest Eugene Chirikov demanding the resignation of the government Vladimir Putin. On Web sites, and http://ecmo.ru http://ecmoru.livejournal.com activists also issued a detailed appeal to the President, which called the Putin government the main obstacle to development and modernization of Russia. Also November 24, 2009.

December 14, 2009

Appeal to participants at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen

This early video from December 14 starts with some photos from the Khimki forest in the winter and than a longer interview in Russian with Environmental movement spokes person Chirikova in Russian. It shows the sincerity behind the protest and the will to reach out with arguments in spite of lack of technical know how in making videos.

http://ecmo.ru, http://ecmoru.livejournal.com: OPEN LETTER TO participants of the Copenhagen Climate Summit FROM Save Khimki Forest Movement (Russia). “We kindly ask participants of the Copenhagen Climate Summit to take an appeal to EBRD, EIB and the Vinci Company asking them to stop financial support for the Moscow St. Petersburg motorway project in its present state (i.e., through the Khimki Forest Park)”.

February 26, 2010

Reporter Irina Yassin, rian.ru in its author’s program “The ABC of change” is trying to solve the riddle: Why fee route Moscow-St Petersburg is designed so that logging in Khimki, it must make a strange detour in the direction of the Khimki woods? Who benefits from destroying the forest and why? Details and collecting signatures for the forest: www.ecmo.ru, http://ecmoru.livejournal.com.

May 6

Confronting exploiters in the forest, Moscow Region, Khimki forest. The preparation for the construction of road Moscow-Petersburg. Shooting Dmitry Zykov for www.grani-tv.ru

May 29

Shevchuk asks questions Putin on freedom of speech,
and the March of Dissent. ! From the video cut out a small piece Full video of the meeting: http://premier.gov.ru/visits/ru/10771 …

July 7

Environmental action in the forest, Chirikova confronts men in suit and old woman continius the graffiti struggle, In Russian – Moscow region, Khimki.The rally and march against the felling of oak Left Bank for the construction of luxury housing. Shooting Dmitry Zykov for www.grani-tv.ru

July 15

SvobodaRadio | July 15, 2010
Environmentalists report that started clearing forests Khimki from Sheremetyevo. Leader Ekooborony Evgeny Chirikov, said in an interview with Radio Liberty that the trees were destroyed illegally and that the work was temporarily stopped due to the efforts of the assembled on-site logging community members.

July 19

Ecodefence in the forest trying to stop the cutting of trees

July 22

Environmentalists protecting the forest brought the petition to the Government. It is “adequate” replied .dopinfo – http://www.greenpeace.org/russia/ru/n … This is the video with by far most viewers, the rest of the videofiles have from 100 to 5000. This one in mid September more than 2.338.000. It is bad quality and not from the most conflictual action but clearly showing how the police are acting against the activists.

From the event reporter, and his eyes from the words of activists, advocates. Deforestation in the far section between Khimki and frontal to July 22 by the defenders stopped, a statement to the police to ask to examine the law and to require permits – has been sent. Technique with this site builders gradually exit. (Question: Where? Not to whether the opposite site of the same forest?)

Support solution to defense ecmo.ru site and on site Demokrator (issue 1403)! Gathering signatures for collective treatment August 1, 2010 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology. Draft treatment here: democrator.ru/problem/1403. As can be seen from the movie, are not only required the signature: provides results and more effective aid. However, the “longhorn” does not stand idle and also asked the police to protect them from the defenders of nature! See news from July 23 to say “Khimki forest. News text from this video: democrator.ru/news/280641.

July 23

Khimki woods July 23, 2010. The attack on environmentalists. Amateur video

Shooting made the morning of 23 July during the defeat of the tent camp ecologists who attempted to stop the illegal, from their point of view, the cutting of forests Khimki. SvobodaRadio

In Khimki forest is a clash of people in masks and anti-felling of trees. According to the defenders of the forest, the camp included about a hundred masked men with weapons in their hands. They detained several activists and severely beating a woman.

July 26

Moscow Region, Khimki forest, 26 July 2010. Defenders try to stop logging in the forest. Shooting Dmitry Zykov for www.grani-tv.ru

Greenpeace

July 28

RuNewsweek: The direct action against the Khimki town hall

July 29

Can a civilized way to resolve conflicts of local residents with the developer in Russia, when it comes to building roads of federal importance? His position in the “third sector” have expressed opposition parties in Khimki forest standing on opposite sides: the representative of the builder – Deputy Head of Federal Roads of Russia Yevgeny Nosov and party movement in the protection of forests Khimki Gennady Rodin. Also in the transfer involved the independent experts: Head of Institute of Transport and Roads Mikhail Blinkin and a specialist in environmental assessment, a lawyer Legal Centre “Rodnik” Catherine Khmeleva. Full version of this program, “third sector” in the air with Radio Liberty on July 31 at 18 o’clock in the program. SvobodaRadio

August 2

Liberal party Yabloko video from occupation in the forest stopped by the police..
August 2, 2010 Starbeevskoe field, Khimki
Riot police disperse a peaceful gathering of defenders Khimki forests. Video detentions Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin, an activist of the Left Front Constantine Kosyakin and others vanishing

August 4

http://grani-tv.ru/
Police steals leader of the social activists of the Khimki city, brave fighter against corruption Eugenia Chirikovа after her press conference in Moscow/ 4 aug 2010

August 22

kp.ru news starting with Gaskarov and Solopov solidarity banner and then the whole concert-meeting:

www.nevex.tv
Artem Troitsky, Yuri Shevchuk, the group “Bart, Evgeny Chirikov … Although no amplifiers, can hear everything. And seen.

Authorities allowed a rally-concert in support of Khimki forest, but was not allowed to sound. vedomosti

Meeting concert in support of Khimki forest

Saxophone & megaphone

Videomade with expensive equipment critizing the concert: pravdavideo | August 22, 2010
The much-touted “Solidarity” rally in defense of Khimki timber failed. Not helped, and Yuri Shevchuk, and who could not “warm up” the audience, Ecology. In which, despite the promotional efforts, on Sunday gathered only 800 people.

Longer unedited piece from Pushkin Square 22.9 with Chirikova and Shevchuk, The New Times:

August 26

President Medvedev has ordered the construction of a motorway through Khimki forest to be suspended. This comes after Russia’s ruling party publicly backed the campaign to save the forest. primetimeru

August 27

Public hearings to start on fate of Khimki forest

September 9

The revelatory film about Moscow mayor Luzhkov, shown on Friday evening by NTV, included the theme of the Khimki forest (Part 1: 5.40-7.40)

Interview with Yevgeniya Chirikova about the talk in the president’s reception office and her involvement in politics.

Why we need solidarity with Russian environmentalists and antifascists

Men on their way to beat up people protecting the Khimki forest, some with right wing extremism symbols on their clothes.

More than hundreds activists have gathered at Eda climate camp North of Stockholm 2-8 of August  organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations.  Here we were reached by the news from Moscow. Right wing extremists have been used to attack environmental activists protecting the Khimki forest and protesting against a high way project. The police who came late to the site reacted by arresting the environmental actvists. Two environmental and anti-fascist protesters are now also facing severe charges for continued protests. Thus we issued a solidarity statement see, below. There are many ways to make international protests both against the repression and against the European investment Bank and EBRD who are possible funders of the toll high way project. See links below.

Transportation and urban planning is at the core of the climate issue. Emissions from ever increasing road transport is frequently addressed as the main problem for solving climate change in industrialized countries and targets set for diminishing the climate effects of transportation is  as frequently among the biggest failures in climate politics. The present development model built on increasing social injustice domestically and internationally needs ever increasing transportation and urban planning segregating people to maintain its dominance and continue exploiting nature and human beings. Thus it is no coincidence that some of the severe environmental conflicts concerns road traffic and urban planning.

Furthermore we see a growing convergence of different movements in a time of stronger repression. This calls for solidarity between different movements and internationally. The growing repression we face have resulted in a volatile situation for protesters and big fluctuations in the ability to mobilize. Popular movements needs not only mass support in their own countries but also that simultaneous struggles goes on in other countries as well as at times international solidarity. This has been especially hard in Central and Eastern Europe where people in common have lost much of their faith in collective protests. Movements work under extreme conditions with lack of visible popular support confronted by severe repression and violence from civilian supporters of a strong national state or corporations. Thus one activist was killed in an environmental camp against a uranium processing plant in Siberia by right wing extremists attacking the small camp beating most of the people in the camp in 2007. The authorities responded by accusing the camp organizers for provoking the attack.

The situation in Moscow is similar. Very few dare to take up a fight and when they do so they get easily beaten or murdered. At the European Social Forum 2010 Rule of Law Institute from Russia organized a seminar on right wing extremism in Russia showing how more than a hundred persons get killed each year due to the right wing violence. When the former leader of the Rule of Law institute, the social democratic lawyer Stanislaw Markelov who often defended antifascist anarchists came out from a press conference on the crimes made by Russian military in Chechnya he was together with Anastasia Baburova gunned down on the footsteps of the building in the middle of Moscow.

One year later a mass manifestation in their memory of the two murdered activists was organized on January 19. It was the biggest demonstration in Moscow for four years with one thousand people attending from many different strands in the movements in Russia with the police harassing the demonstrators and anarchist antifascist as a strong component. In many political struggles in Russia as the environmental or violence against migrants or people from the periphery of the Russian federation antifascists are the main organizers of solidarity and the strand of the movement that do not give up neither in front of right wing extremism or repression. This is of utmost importance in times of lack of visible mass support. The unifying event on January 19 made it possible to gain strength and renew efforts to confront strong economic interest as in the case of the Khimki Forest. Earlier the exploiters closely linked to the local Khimki government had succeeded in stifling the movement by violent attacks on one of its voices, the journalist Mikhail Beketov. The attempted murder in 2008 did not succeed and there are no official results of the investigation but many Khimki residents believe that the local authorities were involved in the attack.

A strong force behind the exploitation is the Transport Ministry and the “non-commercial organisation”, Avtodor which combines the functions of a government agency and a business. The project is planned as the first large-scale public-private partnership with the involvement of western investors – the EBRD and European Investment Bank. The intermediary link will be the North-West Investment Company, backed by the French firms Vinci and Eurovia, who have extensive experience of attracting European investments. But the environmental laws were in the way.

Protesters tried to stop the illegal cutting of the forest for the road project but were confronted by a combination of forces. One was the police who helped the illegal exploiters in spite of a court ruling in favor of the protesters.  Another was the general lack of trust in protesting collectively in Russia which makes the number of protesters small in spite of a very broad support ranging from liberal party leaders, the alternative globalization movement going to European Social Forums, a famous  rock stars to Anarchist and traditional environmentalists and local citizens previously not engaged in conflicts. Finally when the protests continued right wing extremist were called in to beat up the protesters followed by the police arresting the protectors of the environment.

In response to the repression of the movement some 90 or 300 activists anonymously attacked the municipal headquarter smearing it with stones and graffiti. None was arrested at the occasion but afterwards Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov got arrested. As both are publically known spokespersons for the Anti-fascists they are easy to find for the police who needed result in their reaction to the direct action against the symbols of power in Khimki. There is serious questioning against the claims made by the police as there are no proofs of their presence and that it is hard to see a reason the very few persons known by the public and the police should have participated in the action. In the general “anti-extremism” change of laws the action against the municipal building is claimed to be very serious and can result in 7 years of imprisonment. 

The following violent arrest of the leader Yevgenia Chirikov of the Khimki protest movement on August 4 shows clearly that the authorities are lying and playing a political theatre orchestrated by other interests than protecting law and order. She has been contacted by the police at several occasions and appeared at voluntarily police stations as a witness in the case of the murder of lawyer Stanislaw Markelov and the assault against the journalist Mikhail Beketov. Now she was arrested in speculative and brutal manner by the special police force OMON used against riots and terrorists directly after a press conference against the arrests of Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov .  A spokesman for the Moscow Region Directorate of Internal Affairs (i.e., the police for the region around Moscow, not the city itself) later claimed that Chirikova was detained because she had failed to respond to a summons in connection with the investigation of the attack (allegedly by anarchists and antifascists) on the Khimki administration building. But Chirikova was never given a summons and thus not given the possibility to voluntarily come to the police station as the system chose to organize a political theatre instead based on false claims of the refusal of Chirikova to appear voluntarily. She commented afterwards that her arrest resembled a “demonstrative action” directed against environmentalists.

Was it at stake is not only the Khimk forest and profit interest high up in the local and national government linked to abuse of the police to protect those interests. It is also the question of the legitimacy of the present development model in Russia which is much based on the same kind of close linkage between private exploitation interests and the government keeping people in common passive with the help of mass media and a combination of police and right wing extremist violence. As this authoritarian system lacks a belief in its capacity to get spontaneous support for their exploitation they see any kind of protest also when it only concerns a local matter as a threat to the whole system.  This makes it utterly dangerous for those that are organizing protests.

What is at stake is the future of the whole international/translocal climate justice and other system critical movements. We are not stronger than our weakest links. Furthermore the growing repression we see in Russia is also taking place everywhere. With authorities that are given ever increasing juridical means to stop any kind of protest as being caused by “extremism” leaving all traditional juridical ideas of individual responsibility and evidence behind. The Khimki protests against exploitation is a case were especially the accusations against  Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov are crucial to challenge by combining environmentalist and social justice concerns in a joint struggle against repression.

What is remarkable is that  those promoting the toll high way through the Khimk forest refuses any compromise with the wide spread environmental opinion against the exploitation in spite of that they are in a politically fairly vulnerable position. 2/3 of the investments is planned to come from Western funding through EBRD and the European Investment Bank, both known to keep an eye on the environmental impact at least when the negative effects are too obvious and concentrated. They also do not like to be connected to projects that becomes too controversial including violent repression. In spite of this political vulnerability those in power have chosen to continue escalating the pressure against the protesters in an attempt to split the opposition hoping for creating an image of violent aggressive activists working against society and peaceful but harmless opinion makers. Thus the exploiters are challenging the whole European environmental opinion trying to establish a de facto acceptance of European Bank support of any environmentally destructive project regardless how easy a better alternative could be chosen which should save the forest but not the highest level of profit. If the exploiters win and are able to get the financial European support they need it would be a historical defeat for the European environmental opinion.   

The Russian opposition has chosen to show its strength by sticking together. The protest leader Chirikova who by all means can be described as a main stream environmentalist with modest and well informed arguments was among the speakers at the press conference to defend the arrested anti fascists Solopov and Gaskarov. It is hard to believe that the spectacular arrest by special riot and anti-terrorist police force of her directly after this press conference is anything else than an attempt to put a violence stamp on the whole environmental protest and create fear. But those in power failed to split the Russian movement. The 19 of January committee which is the result of the unification of forces during the comemoration of the murder of Markelov and Baburova calls for solidarity. It is now up to international movements to show that the provocation against the European environmental opinion in completely disregarding the local opinion against building of the toll high way through the Khimk forest and still believing in financial support from Europe is met by a strong no. It is even more up to the whole global environmental justice and all popular movements to show that the attempts at using right wing extremism combined with repression against a movement is not accepted in Moscow or anywhere else.

The growing repression we have seen at the Climate summit in Copenhagen, against the landless movement MST in Brazil, against migrants and protesters of all kinds not only in impoverished countries but also the rich and industrialized must be confronted by common efforts. The authorities start to leave all earlier notions of freedom of expression and individual evidence for committing a crime behind.  The heavy possible and necessary involvement of EU funding in the project through EBRD and the European Investment Bank makes it also possible to mobilize substantial protests against the project. We have to join hands across borders and movements to build solidarity.

Tord Björk

 

Protest against the arrests of Maxim Solopov and Alexei Gaskarov

We are protesting against the arrests of environmental activists in connection with protests against highway construction around Moscow at Khimki forest. We look with concern on how both the right wing extremist violence and state repression is used against the protests. Everyone’s health and the right to a living nature for future generations are at stake in environmental conflicts. The authorities ignoring the right-wing violence and repression against the protests are unacceptable.

 

Participants at the Climate camp in Eda organized by Friends of the Earth Sweden and educational organizations.

Links

The Battle for Khimki Forest, Yevgenia Chirikova, 17 March 2010

http://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/yevgenia-chirikova/battle-for-khimki-forest

Another Beautiful Day in the Russian Capital: Khimki Forest Defender Yevgenia Chirikova Kidnapped by Police after Press Conference

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/another-beautiful-day-in-the-russian-capital-khimki-forest-defender-yevgenia-chirikova-kidnapped-by-police-after-press-conference/

The Kidnapping of Yevgenia Chirikova (4 August 2010, Moscow)

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/the-kidnapping-of-yevgenia-chirikova-4-august-2010-moscow/

Yevgenia Chirikova on Her Kidnapping by Police

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/yevgenia-chirikova-on-her-kidnapping-by-police/

Khimki: Police Repression as an Aid to Deforestation, On the arrests of Max, and Alexei.

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/khimki-police-repression-as-an-aid-to-deforestation/

Khimki: Territory of Lawlessness with more links to Khimki articles

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/khimki-territory-of-lawlessness/

Antifascist Russian news in English regularly updated about the Khimki protests:

http://www.avtonom.org/en/khimki

 Links to articles in different languages:

http://www.europe-solidaire.org/spip.php?mot6748

Take Action!

Send protest letters or go to the Russian embassy or consulate to demand the realease of Gaskarov and Solopov. For arguments see the facebook group below-

Join the protests on facebook:

Freedom for Russian antifascists Alexei Gaskarov & Maxim Solopov! 483 members August 5.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=123233894390151

Khimki: Save The Forest! A newly started facebook group. 17 members August 5.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=133292676712838&v=walli

Put pressure on the European banks:

Sign the online letter below and ask the European Investment Bank and the European bank for Reconstruction and Development to condemn publicly illegal acts of deforestation and violence against peaceful demonstrations.

http://bankwatch.org/involved/index2.shtml?x=2237867

Put pressure on the Western European corporations:

Greenpeace Russia: Help Defend the Khimki Forest!

http://chtodelat.wordpress.com/2010/08/04/greenpeace-russia-help-defend-the-khimki-forest/

Send protest letters to European banks and President Medvedev:

 

Protect Moscow’s Khimki Forest—the land, the trees and local environmentalists desperately need help

http://www.earthaction.org/2010/07/protect-moscows-khimki-forestthe-land-the-trees-and-local-environmentalists-desperately-need-help.html

 

ESF-6 Istanbul 1-4th July 2010 Final Assembly of Social Movements

ASM – Assembly of Social Movements

EUROPEAN SOCIAL FORUM
ISTANBUL 1-4th  JULY 2010

FINAL ASSEMBLY
(Notes taken, documents organized by Mariangela Casalucci and Elettra Anghelinas)

The final Assembly has been divided in two parts:

10 – 11.40        Information about the ESF, presentation of final declaration  and debate
11.40 – 13.00  Outcome from thematic assemblies and debate

It was significant to have an ESF in Istanbul, 3000 people participation, 200 meetings between workshops, seminars and assemblies and a very successful demo with more than 5000 people participating
We have held this ESF in the framework of the crisis. There were a lot of seminars and workshops focusing on this. All seminars have brought similarities and differences.
What is clear is that we want to work together and go further together without letting anybody destroying the wish of networking mobilizations all around Europe.
So we are here together to find spaces to coordinate our effort to struggle against the attack we are facing. There will be concrete actions and in the framework of the ESF we are going to join our forces

Final declaration

From the Final Assembly of the 6th European Social Forum
1- 4th July 2010
We, the participants at the Istanbul ESF, affirming that we have a strong  engagement against all war and occupation  and that we are for a political resolution of the Kurdish issue, have made the following resolution :
Act together in Europe against the crisis
In the context of a global crisis and faced with the EU, the governments and the IMF offensive to impose austerity and social regression policies, the social movements which have gathered in the ESF in Istanbul issue a call to act together in Europe.
Mobilisations and resistance movements are developing across Europe to challenge these policies. It is urgent to build, on the long term, a convergent struggle in Europe, which brings together social movements, trade unions, associations, organisations, and citizen networks. This is why we issue a call for a first step on the way to developing mobilisation across Europe, on the 29th of September and the surrounding days.
We must impose alternative policies, which enable us to fulfil social needs and ecological requirements.
All social movements call for a European assembly on the 23-24th of October (or 13-14th of November) in Paris to further our mobilisation and the coordination of our movements and also to make valuation and discuss the future of the ESF.

Outcome of the thematic assemblies and networks
held in the frame of the European Social Forum on the 3rd of July 2010
(please notice that the summaries are followed by the final declarations of each assembly in which are listed all the calls, the proposals and the appointments for the following months)

We are the people, women and men participating to workshops, seminars, assemblies and networks in the European Social Forum in Istanbul, 1st – 4th July 2010 and we call on social movements to participate and networking for the concrete actions which were discussed, proposed and now listed in the final declarations of the assemblies at the forum

Assembly on Freedom of movement, right to stay

We, the people and activist groups participating in the workshops, seminars and actions organized by the Migrant Network call on fighting for the freedom of movement and the right to stay. We call on movements, organizations, individuals all over Europe in order to struggle against the murderous European border regime in which Frontex is the driving force and for the closure of all detention centers.
We call on movements, organizations individuals all over Europe to support the struggles of workers focusing on the ones without papers and rights and to fight against the racism and the precarization and exploitation of migrants, increased in the context of the global economic crisis.
We support all the campaigns, initiatives and struggles and we call on people here on continuing and strengthening networking and proceed in common transnational struggles.

Antirepression network

We, the people involved in the initiatives of the antirepression network believe that the repression issue will be of much bigger importance in the near future because of the crisis and the social struggles emerging from this crisis. Intensify and special measures will be taken against those who right for their rights, their social security and diversity. Despite our different political opinions we call on the release of all the political prisoners, the closure of the black lists and any other measure of the global war against terror. We claim to shut down all the migrants’ detention camps and any kind of guantanamos.

Climate justice Network

We from climate and social justice movements who gathered at the European Social Forum in Istanbul call for system change not climate change for a just transition towards a good life for all. Social and ecological justice, do not contradict each other. They are and have to be complementary. We are calling for a just transition in the way we work, in the structures of production and consumption.  We need to expand community-controlled renewable energies, food sovereignty as well as public services. This would create millions of socially and ecologically useful jobs.
We in Europe are only now starting on the road towards climate justice, creating and resisting in many different ways, such as direct action, the building of local alternatives, civil disobedience or public campaigning to name a few. We call upon social movements, trade unions and civil society in Europe to engage in the struggle for a good life for all.

Education Assembly Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

We, people of the public education, gathered in Istanbul for the sixth European Social Forum call for a period of mobilization next autumn
We want to use  the 29th  of September, a day of demonstration and trade union actions across every country of Europe and the surrounding dates, to extend the mobilization and  to act together in Europe on our platform.
During this period, from the end of September to the beginning October, we call for mobilizations,  strikes, demonstrations and actions all around Europe to reaffirm the right to free public education for everybody and to defend and increase  workers and unions rights on the basis of our platform.

War and peace Assembly

The war and peace assembly denounces that at a time of economic crisis, European states are increasing their military budgets and trade of weapons. The European Union  is not the “soft power” it meant to be. To protect peace and social needs, we call peace and antiwar movements to join the trade unions protest on the 29th of September and the Week of Action against the NATO summit of 15-21 November 2010 in Lisbon.  We call for an immediate end of the war in Afghanistan and we will mobilize for the tragic anniversary of the invasion on October 8-9. The assembly strongly supports the mobilization of Kurdish and Turkish movements for a peaceful and democratic solution of the Kurdish issue, and endorses the Palestinian civil society call for a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with Palestinian rights based on international law. There is no military way out of these conflict. We  support the demilitarization of Cyprus, the whole Caucasus and we stand in solidarity with the Iraqi civil society that is struggling to protect its people. All these causes and campaigns will be celebrated in the International Day of Peace, 21 September, and in the Thematic Social Forum for a Culture of Peace in Santiago de Compostela on 9-12 December.

Assembly on Labour

We call for support workers and TU in Turkey who are struggling for their rights against the severe oppression by the government and the huge attack of the transnational companies, information campaign all over Europe in order to strength unity and solidarity and prevent workers from being played out against each other; support across Europe the workers struggle against austerity programs and attacks on wages, working conditions, pensions and social programs; debate in European TU and social movements about how to adopt more aggressive initiative and strength the international prospective and coordination; the demonstrations planned for the 29th of September and surrounding days should be organized as European events in Brussels and general strikes where possible

Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West

With regard to the upcoming European mobilisations it was said that it is preferable to develop simultaneous activities against crises, poverty, unemployment in many countries during the time of the big demonstration on 29th September in Brussels. The slogan ”Human beings are more important than banks” was suggested as well as the integration of our struggle against racism and xenophobia.
The open All-European Mobilizing Committee should support the co-operation and participation of CEE movements for the next EPAs and ESF, based upon the good experience with frequent Skype conferences.
The open-esf website should be renewed and continued with a better balanced participation of women and of CEE movements.
Everyone is invited to participate in the network “Prague Spring II” and to integrate other issues into its work, e.g. women’s issues, sustainability or social issues.
The next ESF should take place either in a CEE country or in one of the neighbouring countries like Austria.

Antimperialist Assembly (see the final declaration in the following part)

Final declarations
of the thematic Assemblies
held in Istanbul
on the 3rd of July 2010
VI European Social Forum

•    Education Assembly
Rise up! An other answer to the crisis is possible: Public Education

•    Migrants Assembly
“The freedom to move, the right to stay”

•    Assembly
“Solidarity of the East and the West”

•    From the network Climate justice
“System change, not climate change! A just transition towards a good life for all”

•    Assembly
“Peace and War”

•    Assembly on Labour

•    Antimperialist Assembly

ESF-6: Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West”

Tord Björk | CEE,ESF,right wing,Uncategorized | Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West”
6th ESF Istanbul, 3rd  July 2010

Present 56 participants from 21 countries: Austria, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Moldova, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Turkey

Facilitator: Leo Gabriel
After the total failure of the Turkish organizers to facilitate and support the participation of social and environmental movements from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), this participation and this assembly were only enabled thanks to generous short notice donations of the World Social Forum Expansion Commission “Rosa Luxemburg Foundation”, the European leftist network transform!, members of the European Parliament from the GUE/NGL faction as well as members of the German Federal Parliament from Die Linke (The Left).

Russian Antifascist with translator on struggle against right wing extremism

Issues:
Co-operation between the East and the West in fighting right-wing extremism (RWE)
Rights of the Mother Earth, campaigning before the summit in Cancun

Tord Björk: We have to address the crisis in CEE jointly. Lot of big and rich WE organisations are reluctant to work together or even to help because they feel themselves superior. In fact, some little movements in CEE function better than big Western European organisations or TUs despite their own very bad political, legal and economic conditions and very limited financial and human resources in CEE countries.
Said Gafurov: Social movements and SF in Russia are no more marginalized, they become appropriate media attention, thanks to the help of some people from WSF and ESF. However, there is a lack of information what is happening in other CEE countries.
Françoise: E.g. women in Poland have lost their rights, like the right for abortion.
Leo Gabriel informed about the establishment of the “Prague Spring II – all-European network against right-wing extremism and populism” and recommended to make use of its resources and possibilities and to develop it jointly as an information hub between the East and the West.

Alexander Buzgalin in action at ESF

Proposals:
a) To distribute information as much as possible and on different levels: website and lobbying of left and liberal mass media.
b) Alexander Buzgalin from Russia proposed to organize a conference under an ultimate condition: those CEE groups who are not able to work together will not be granted any financial support from Western donor foundations.
c) To integrate into the existing structure of the network on RWE a discussion on fundamental questions in education, health and gender.
d) To create a method of exchanging opinions and research results on solutions of the crisis.
f) Invitation for a conference in Kiev on Climate change in September and against RWE in St.Petersburg on the 3rd November 2010.
g) Follow up of the seminars on Free Trade, Feminism and the Lisbon Treaty held at 5th ESF.

Conclusions: Assembly “Solidarity of the East and the West”

1.    With regard to the upcoming European mobilisations it was said that it is preferable to develop simultaneous activities against crises, poverty, unemployment in many countries during the time of the big demonstration on 29th September in Brussels. The slogan ”Human beings are more important than banks” was suggested as well as the integration of our struggle against racism and xenophobia.
2.    The open All-European Mobilizing Committee should support the co-operation and participation of CEE movements for the next EPAs and ESF, based upon the good experience with frequent Skype conferences
3.    The open-esf website should be renewed and continued with a better balanced participation of women and of CEE movements.
4.    Everyone is invited to participate in the network “Prague Spring II” and to integrate other issues into its work, e.g. women’s issues, sustainability or social issues.
5.    The next ESF should take place either in a CEE country or in one of the neighbouring countries like Austria.

Seminar on right wing extremism intiated by the ESF network Prague Spring II

Right wing extremism in Romania

Tord Björk | ESF,political culture,Repression,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Presented at the Prague spring conference 2010: Alternatives to right wing extremism in a time of social and ecological crisis

BEYOND THE TRUTH – AN ANALYSIS OF RIGHT WING EXTREMISM IN ROMANIA

1. AN INTRODUCTION

In a time of trouble when xenophobia and racism are soaring in many European countries, Romania seems to remain an oasis out of the revival of the Far Right. Such typical traits of Right Wing Extremism are presently to be found and documented neither as social phenomena nor as organized movements.

On the contrary, Romania has lately opened its borders to immigrants from African countries to the Middle East and even to countries from the Far East as China and Vietnam, and there are dozens of documented cases that prove the kind, open and hospitable manner these people have been treated and helped integrate into the society. Prior to the EU accession, legislation has also been adjusted to the new reality and to comply with the European standards.

The tradition of welcoming people from afar and not showing xenophobic and racist attitudes towards them dates back long before 1989: members of the Greek ‘Eteria’ (that reads ‘Brotherhood’) liberation movement found refuge and support in Romania in the 1820s, Armenians, Jews, Italians, Greeks, Albanians and others came in waves as migrants mostly in the interwar period establishing flourishing businesses in trade, banking and sweets manufacturing, Polish refugees were offered aid and temporary home from 1939 to 1940 when fleeing from the Nazis and their national thesaurus was safeguarded until it was shipped to the US, to end up with the many thousands of Arab, African and South American students throughout the 1970s and 1980s who, after graduating, chose to remain, married with Romanian women and settled down in Romania.

Nevertheless, Romania is a case of a different kind in terms of what is being labeled as ‘Right Wing Extremism’: unlike in most European countries, the vectors of the Far Right are neither xenophobia, nor Islam phobia, nor racism, nor fascism, nor neo-Nazism, but extreme nationalism, ethnocentrism, traditionalism, conservatism, patriarchalism, and a broad intolerance toward gay phenomena.

2. AN EXPLANATION

The explanation of the aforementioned is, at least, threefold.

Firstly, historically and psycho-socially speaking, the innate structure of the Romanian people proved to be hardly tractable along the lines of xenophobia, fascism and racism.

Secondly, historically speaking, the genuine Romanian Right Wing Extremism has naturally died out.
The members of the notorious ‘Legion of Michael Archangel’ originally founded in the 1910s, and later renamed ‘The Iron Guard’, could not fully pass on their legacy to a new organization. It was the legacy of a paramilitary structure which had its heydays during the 1930s and 1940s and did contain elements of violent xenophobia, racism against the Roma and anti-Semitism. Their doctrine relied heavily on exacerbated nationalist feelings and Orthodox religion. It is notorious that combining extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism with Orthodox religion is a method of manipulating people in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, people who proved to be tractable along this course since times immemorial – the Civil War in Yugoslavia is probably the bloodiest and the nearest example in time in this respect.
The ‘Iron Guard’ spread terror throughout the country and carried out pogroms and individual executions of respected scholars, politicians, and even of prominent members of the Government.

“They murdered an entire series of former ministers (60 ministers and high officials were murdered at Jilava, in November 1940)” [Djuvara, Neagu, page 248].

The ‘Iron Guard’ had rather good connections with Hitler and even managed to rule the country for a brief, chaotic and bloody period of time between the close of 1940 and early 1941. After a two-day civil war waged between the Army and the ‘Iron Guard’ in the end of January 1941 the latter were defeated and its top leaders found refuge in Germany thereafter.
So feared and undesirable was the ‘Iron Guard’ that Hitler would occasionally resort to recall their potential menace in order to blackmail the Romanian Government and force them taking certain decisions.
The ‘Iron Guard’ was eventually dismantled and outlawed by the newly installed Communist regime in 1945-1946. Its members were declared enemies of the people, of the State and of the new social order and were hunted down ending either killed or in extermination prisons. The forty-five years of Communist dictatorship, as well as the generation gap that has gaped in time between them and any potential followers, took their toll and made their ideological legacy fade away.

Thirdly, and most importantly, both historically and psycho-socially speaking, Romanians are tractable along other vectors of the Far Right than xenophobia, fascism and racism, namely extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism.

3. THE FAR RIGHT EPIGONES

Albeit after 1989 until the late 1990s the last elderly surviving members of the ‘Iron Guard’ who escaped from the Communist Gulag tried to make a comeback and recruit new members whilst the new political regime was showing tolerance and permissiveness towards them, the Legion has never recovered. Petty bickering and long-repressed disagreements on the would-be political doctrine split the movement into several political groups, each claiming to be the one and only holders of the true legacy of the Legion. Obviously, such groups of very old men were mere shadows of the past and their Right Wing extremism would be expressed only in discourses attended by few believers and some curious people.

Even if some of the members of the Legion, particularly poets and priests, have been somewhat rehabilitated, their works published, their tombs turned into shrines, and their sufferance and endurance in the Communist extermination camps have been turned into heroism mostly to comply with the political needs of the new political System-Machinery, the public appeal of the ‘Iron Guard’ doctrine has come to naught.

The attempts to found a New Legion in the image of the former glorious one with young people fell short because of the lack of the unity of the surviving patriarchs, of the generation gap and broken continuity, of the new political and legislative conditions, and because of lack of financing.

The only epigone organization that maintains partly the legacy of the ‘Iron Guard’ is the ‘Association the New Right’. Strangely enough, they have been legally registered as an NGO and thus they must walk on a thin line that separates the realm of Law from the realm of offense and crime. Consequently, the organization is not officially labeled as of ‘Extreme Right’. Nevertheless, they do have the features of Right Wing extremism at least in terms of ethnocentrism, extreme nationalism and intolerance towards sexual minorities. They would rise to the occasion and organize counter-manifestations against Hungarian ethnic minority and against homosexuals and lesbians, but they try to keep their actions non-violent and merely at the level of aggressive political discourse. They are battling against the claims of the Hungarian ethnic minority particularly from the districts of Harghita, Covasna and Mures in Transylvania, and, particularly, against the Hungarian ‘HVIM’, a Right Wing extremist organization that has established a branch in Transylvania and militates for border changes and re-annexation of the territories Great Hungary possessed before the Trianon Treaty.
The ‘Association the New Right’ is led by some young intellectuals and students. It is striving hard to gain an image and legitimacy both inside the country and across the borders. The organization’s financing sources remain a subject of speculation.

4. ABOUT NATIONALISM AS PILLAR OF THE FAR RIGHT

Nationalism, according to Albert Einstein, is a childhood disease of the human society, like measles is in case of the individual. In other words, the more exacerbated and virulent the nationalism, the less developed the society, and vice-versa.

“Albert Camus […] correctly noted that nationalism is a pathologic form of national identity.”  [Keane, John, p.118].

Since this is a critical work, we will not insist on the merits and benefic aspects of nationalism, elements which should have already ended their historic role in the consolidation of the nation and of the state throughout Europe.

In Romania, similarly to other European countries, the first notable turn of the nationalism that played a constructive role in the formation of the Romanian nation state during the first two decades of the 20th century into extreme, aggressive and violent nationalism appeared in the early 1930s and continued up to the end of the Second World War. Not by chance, it was a period of global crisis that ended in a world scale war.

There are four elements that may be regarded as being amongst the most negative features of nationalism.
Firstly, nationalism creates Myths and fosters Mythical Thinking in the terms of Ernst Cassirer. We believe the time of myths has gone and the 21st century should not be a time of the creating Myths and of Mythical Thinking.
Secondly, nationalism helps spreading neoliberalism and populism with the creation of so-called providential Father Figures and grand Saviors of the Nation. Thus, it helps the maintaining of the self-entitled ‘Elites’ in Power.
Thirdly, nationalism seems to have a natural tendency of combining with religion, which, more often than not, has led to social, cultural and economic catastrophe.
Fourthly, nationalism is being used to manipulate and divert the attention of the public opinion from real issues in the state during times of political and economic crisis.
In real life, these four features of nationalism appear blended and have always been harnessed by those in Power to extend, deepen and prolong their domination over the masses.

Nationalism and its extreme forms are, along with Religion and its extreme forms, ways of venting out Weakness and Fear, Failure and Frustration by means of inventing a non-existent reality that satisfies the expectations of the ego of the individual and of the group. Both Nationalism and Religion heavily rely on Myth production and Mythical Thinking that involve taboos, rituals, and worshipping God-like founding heroes and past embellished events. The pattern has been similar all over the world since ancient times.

“For Armstrong, the group identity named ‘nation’ is simply a modern equivalent of the pre-modern ethnic identity which existed throughout the entire recorded history. […] Following Barth’s analysis concerning the social organization and group boundaries, Armstrong sees the set of perceptions called by us ‘ethnicity’ forming and dissolving in each period of history. Some of these, supported by various myths and symbols resisted for centuries and constituted the foundation for the emergence of the ‘national’ identities later on. […].” [Smith, Anthony D., p.174-175

5. THE NATIONALIST STRUCTURES AFTER 1989 AND THEIR LINKS WITH THE PAST

In a strange and ironic twist of fate, the Far Right legacy in the form of extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism contributed, along with other factors, to the establishment of dictatorial Communist regime in Romania and, thus, to social dissolution, cultural decay, and oppression of the people.
A relevant argument in favour of this thesis lies in the fact that many prominent historians refer to certain stages of Communism by using the term ‘National Communism’.

An even stronger argument lies in the emergence after 1989 of a number of political structures and personages which promote extreme nationalism, chauvinism, ethnocentrism, intolerance and hatred directed against ethnic minorities, parties and individuals which emerged directly from the former dictatorial Romanian Communist Party (PCR), from amongst the circle of court poets, as well as from the former the top State apparatus.

“Ever since the ‘velvet revolutions’ of 1989-1991, the nationalist card has been played not only by the communist parties and by the organizations struggling to maintain their power – Milosevic in Serbia, Kravciuk in Ukraine, and Iliescu in Romania are but a few examples.” [Keane, John, p.124].

5.1. THE TRADITIONAL NATIONALIST STRUCTURES

The Party of the National Unity of Romanians (PUNR) was founded in mid-March 1990 on the basis of a so-called civil organization called ‘Vatra Romaneasca’, that reads ‘The Romanian Hearth’, which, at its turn, had been initiated by an obscure Orthodox priest. Once again, the link between nationalism and Orthodox religion inevitably leads, like a déjà vu, to the model of the ‘Iron Guard’.

An objective analysis of the bloody inter-ethic conflicts of 15th of March 1990 that caused many casualties on both sides as well as a serious damage to the international image of the new-born Romanian State could not dismiss the role these extreme nationalist organizations played in its ignition and fueling.

Official historical versions insist in explaining its emergence as a genuine popular response to the allegedly rising danger of the Hungarian ethnic minority backed up by the Hungarian State claiming rights and liberties that would, allegedly, jeopardize the national unity of the State by the separation of Transylvania from the motherland. Some of them even went that far to declare that the events in Transylvania had been an experimental embryo for the operation of dismantling former Yugoslavia the following years, experiment carried out by the powerful Western States that did not want Nation States in the region.

The PUNR used to promote a nationalist discourse mainly directed against the Hungarian ethnic minority living in Transylvania.

“The jingoistic discourses are meant in the best case for ‘internal usage’, if one may still be hoping that they can cover the deplorable state of the Romanian society. But they do not help at all abroad. On the contrary, this is precisely the kind of discourse which discredits.” [Boia, Lucian, p.388].

The PUNR has become lately a mere shadow of what it used to be in the turmoil of the early 90s, undergoing some obscure period of transformation. Some of its top leaders left the party for the Great Romania Party and, eventually, it seems it was, in the early 2006, silently absorbed into the Conservative Party whose discourse became imbued with stronger nationalistic tones.

The Great Romania Party (PRM) is a notorious Right-Wing party that used to promote in the past an ethnocentric, anti-Hungarian ethnic minority, anti-Roma ethnic minority and anti-Semite political discourse. Their European political family is composed of the French Le Penn, the Austrian Haider, and the like. Presently their discourse shifted to milder tones but nevertheless, elements of ethnocentrism, extreme nationalism combined with populism remained obvious.

“The Grand Romania Party is a nostalgic party […]”. [Gusa, Cozmin, p.32].

It is relevant to remark that the founder and the president of the Great Romania Party was one of Dictator Ceausescu’s court poets and shared all the privileges of the Nomenklatura, though he presently denies it. This confirms again the inseparable connection between the present-day nationalist structures and the former dictatorial structures.

Both the aforementioned parties are infested with retired Securitate and Army high-ranking officers, with Ceausescu’s former henchmen, and with priests, in the attempt to psychoanalytically exploit primeval drives of the individual and of the group.

At the last Euro parliamentary elections of 2008 the president of the Great Romania Party (PRM) managed to get a seat in the EU Parliament showing that the nationalist and tough redeeming political discourse is rather appealing and dear to the Romanians. Beyond that, such a high score indicated the need of Romanians for healing, for Justice, Truth, and a Better Life, ultimately, the quest for an alternative.

Article on the left wing nationalist attack on Romanian Social Forum

5.2. A CASE STUDY: THE RIGHT WING EXTREMISM OF THE RADICAL LEFT

The Socialist Party of Workers (PSM), later on turned into the Socialist Alliance Party (PAS), is a case of a different kind and requires an attentive analysis since it is the only party in Romania that declares itself as Radical Left.

The party was initially structured on the traditionalist hard-liners of the former dictatorial regime and some top former apparatchiks in the 2nd and 3rd echelons of the PCR. The passage of time has proved that their only supporters remained the nostalgic, the frustrated who could not adapt themselves to the new dynamics in politics and lost their positions as strongmen, few of the workers and peasants, some of the poor, some of the older generation, and, unfortunately, lately, some opportunists and upstarts.
They managed to get access into the Parliament only in the very first period of the 90s, gradually fading away since then. The PAS tried hardly to catch the new and democratic European Left Wing political style and pace by joining the European Left Party (ELP) in 2004 in Rome, but they could not reach the political honesty of publicly denying Stalinism and Ceausism.

The PAS leadership still publicly claims that Ceausescu’s dictatorship had in fact been a ‘Nationalist Communism’ and an ‘Illuminated Communism’ for the benefit of the Romanian people. One of the satellite NGOs of the PAS, the Association ‘Genius of the Carpathians’, bears one of the worshiping addressing names imposed to Romanians by Dictator Ceausescu.
Many a time, PAS revealed that it relies on and it employs extreme nationalism as a manipulating political tool, the same way as the Ceausescu had been doing. Populist demagogic Right Wing phrases embellishing the past such as ‘the grand Romanian people’, ‘our grand nation’, ‘our grand past’ and ‘our grand heroes’ are permanent ingredients of their so-called ‘Left’ political discourse.

Presently the importance and influence of the PAS in Romanian political life has become practically insignificant, and their political chances are close to naught, most likely because of the presence in the party of nostalgic followers of Ceausism and Stalinism.
The proof lies in the disastrous scores the PAS obtained in the 2004 and 2008 elections when they hardly managed to get 1% of the votes in certain ‘red’ areas of the country like the Southern Counties. Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS, scored rather poorly when running for the Presidential elections of 2009 only to finish before the last. Such performance and scores dismiss their political approach and signal the historical need for the emergence of a completely different Left Party in Romania.

In spite of all the political failure, the president of PAS, Rotaru Constantin, is a well-to-do businessman who holds the monopoly of flag manufacturing in the country and has founded a Media trust. His company ‘Rotarexim’ has a publicly declared an annual turnover that exceeds 1,000,000 Euros. In such circumstances, the Media is not far from the truth when writing that his businesses may well keep the flag up but Capitalism does not match with Left ideology.

On 26th January 2008, the Association for the Development of the Romanian Social Forum (AD FSR) and the Romanian Ecological Action Foundation (AER Foundation) were the only to legally organize a social-environmental and cultural event in Romania in the frame of the series of events of the Global Day of Action launched by the World Social Forum.
Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS attacked the event, the participants, and the organizers in a libeler newspaper article that had all the characteristics of Right Wing Extremism: extreme nationalism and ethnocentrism, ethnic discrimination and chauvinism, intolerance and hatred discourse against the Hungarian ethnic minority, political harassment, populism and inciting authorities to take action against innocent people.

Consequently, the president of the Romanian Socialist Alliance Party (PAS) was sued for the offence of publicly promoting Right Wing Extremism in the form of multiple discrimination, political harassment, and hatred discourse.

In his sole written defence, Rotaru Constantin insisted that ‘that was a political position’ and ‘he did not express himself a private person but as political leader’. It is beyond any doubt that such statement made a very bad impression on the Judges because it implied that a political leader may have immunity to do whatever he wants against people. Moreover, the statement confirms once again that the Left Radical Socialist Alliance Party admits that they promote Right Wing Extremism in the form of extreme nationalism, ethnic discrimination, and hatred discourse.

During the trial, the High Court admitted as proof a document that consisted of a newspaper article according to which the Socialist Alliance Party (PAS) has close connections with the Great Romania Party (PRM) with which they were to establish an electoral alliance in the autumn of 2008. It appears that one of the common denominators of the two parties is extreme nationalism and ethnic discrimination targeting mainly the Hungarian ethnic minority in Romania.

After more than a two-year long legal battle, the Highest Court of Justice in Romania (ICCJ) ruled in early February 2010 that the sentence of the High Court of Appeal of Alba County in the case no. 292/57/2009 was right and legal.

Therefore, Rotaru Constantin, president of PAS, was sentenced for promoting  multiple discrimination and political harassment as offender of Law no. 137/2000 corroborated with Recommendation no. R (97) 20 issued by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe regarding the hatred discourse, as well as with the judiciary practice of the European Court of Justice. The president of PAS was also sentenced to pay a contravention fine. The judgment of the Highest of Court of Justice in Romania is final and irrevocable (see: http://www.scj.ro/dosare.asp?view=detalii&id=100000000209313 ).

This judgment puts the European Left Party in an unprecedented embarrassing position since one of their founding party members has been sentenced for publicly promoting Right Wing Extremist policies directed against innocent citizens and social actors engaged in the WSF and ESF processes.

24th-26th of March 2010
Aiud, Romania

Petre Damo

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Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

Tord Björk | ESF,global crisis,political culture,popular movements,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Crisis, nationalism and revolutionary possibilities: The case of Eastern Europe

This paper by Andrejs Berdņikovs and Steffen Böhm was presented at the Prague spring conference. It was also presented at Alternative Futures and Popular Protest conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, 29-31 March 2010.

It includes such critical remarks as:

“We see obvious signs of the rise of ultra-right wing and fascist movements all
around Eastern Europe as well as parts of Western Europe, and what we hope to show is
that fascism is a ‘logical’ successor of neo-liberalism, the way it has been practised as
‘transition’ in Eastern Europe.”

and

“This is precisely the weakness of the theoretical oeuvre of Ernesto Laclauv as well.
Writing in the post-Marxist tradition, his theory of hegemony and populism seems to be
based on the explicit or implicit ethico-normative belief that socialist revolution is part of
culture, history and political goal of social movement organising. What is less theorised
in his abstract theoretical framework is the possibility of social movement organising
leading to anti-emancipatory, right-wing and even fascist forms of ideology that,
nevertheless all legitimate capitalism, yet in different ways.

Let us therefore outline a theoretical framework that distinguishes between three politico-
ideological regimes of capitalism, which can exist side by side. It is our argument that
what we are currently seeing in many parts of Eastern Europe is not necessarily the
starting point of a socialist revolution but, on the contrary, the restructuring of capitalism
and the movement from one capitalist politico-ideological regime to another one.”
Author: andrejs.berdnikovs (at) fulbrightmail.org

Appeal for Anastasia Denisova.

Tord Björk | ESF,Propaganda,Repression,right wing | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Governor of Krasnodar krai
Tkachov Alexandr Nikolaevich
Krasnodar, Krasnaya, 35.
Tel/fax: +7 (861) 262-57-16,
fax: +7 (861) 268-35-42

with Copy to:

Plenipotentiary of President of the
Russian Federation to South Federal District
Ustinov Vladimir Vasilyevich
Rostov-on-Don, Bolshaya Sadovaya, 73
tel. +7 (863) 249-99-43, fax +7 (863) 249-99-47

APPEAL

We are extremely concerned about the situation with human rights activists in Krasnodar krai and, namely, the criminal charges filed against Anastasia Denisova.
Anastasia Denisova is our colleague, a 27-year-old human rights defender and an expert in counteraction against xenophobia, racism and intolerance. Anastasia is the president of Krasnodar krai non-governmental organization Youth Group for Tolerance “ETHnICS”, a member of the Coordinating Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement, an employee of Human Rights Centre “Memorial”, Analytical center SOVA and co-coordinator of the ”Green Alternative” group in the region of Krasnodar.
We know that Anastasia has done a lot in the sphere of non-violent antifascism, both practically and theoretically. For several years Anastasia Denisova and NGO “ETHnICS” have been subdued to harassment and inhibition of professional activities (presence of outsiders during the Federal Registration Service check-up; groundless claim of damages from Tax Inspectorate, as a result of which the activities of the NGO were brought to a halt; regular delays and examination at crossing the border of the Russian Federation; prevention of her departure to the OSCE meeting in Warsaw, etc.). This high-pressure situation culminated in late 2009 when the criminal charges were brought against Anastasia Denisova. At the same time the criminal case is centered around examination of computer equipment which does not belong either to Anastasia Denisova or NGO “ETHnICS” and as far as we are informed which was confiscated with the violations of the Russian Federation legislation. The criminal case is based on the expert advice the validity of which is highly doubtful.
Systematic prevention of Denisova’s activities allows us to suggest that this criminal case is again a form of pressure on behalf of the authorities of the region. We are amazed that monitoring manifestation of xenophobia, and discrimination of ethnic minorities, cultural and educational projects that Anastasia does – are not welcomed and supported by the authorities of Krasnodar krai. We express out deep concern about the rise of right-wing extremism in Europe and in Russia and call for respect for people who decide to act against it.
At the same time mass media is covering other incidents of harassment of human rights and civil activists in Krasnodar krai. These cases instigate a very unpleasant atmosphere around Krasnodar krai, which seriously influences the image of the Russian Federation, especially on the eve of Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.

In this respect we call upon for:

1.    personal control of lawfulness of the court trial against Anastasia Denisova
2.    assistance to ensure secure functioning of civil society institutions in Krasnodar krai.

Date
Name of organization / Name
Signature

Right-wing and extreme right-wing groups in France

Tord Björk | ESF,political culture,right wing,Uncategorized | Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Luis Weber and Ewa Ziolkowski at the Prague spring conference

Right-wing and extreme right-wing groups in France

About the latest regional elections in France

by Luis Weber

Regional elections took place in France on March 14th and 21st, 2010. With regard to the subject of our conference, two remarks should be emphasized, in my view :

−    the huge rate of abstention, over 50%, very high in the French context and which expresses, among other reasons, the lack of interest in the big «traditional» parties.
−    the score obtained by the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen, about 11,5 %, to which we should add the results of the other extreme right-wing lists, generally born of splits of the NF itself (about 1 %). Certainly, these results are lower than those the National Front and the other extreme-right candidates got at the beginning of this century: more than 19 % for example in the presidential election of 2002. And about 15 % in the regional elections of 2004, if we want to compare with a ballot of the same nature. But, meanwhile, Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP had made a lot “to siphon” the electorate of the NF – I will return to this matter – with certain results: in the presidential elections of 2007, Le Pen lost more than a million votes and fell again back to 10,5 %. The fall seemed to accelerate when the lists of the NF obtained only 6,3 % in the European elections of 2009, passing from 7 members of the European Parliament in 2004 to 3 in 2009. What led the medias to emphasize two facts after the regional of this year: the victory of the Left and the “bounce” of the NF.

From there, I suggest making at first some reminders on what represent regions in the French institutional context and to say how far it can influence the elections at this level. Then, in brief too, I will propose some thoughts about the place of the extreme right in the French political context. Finally, I will propose some considerations on the possible reasons of the “surge” which I have just evoked.

Regions are a recent creation in the French institutional architecture. Historically, France has been a very centralized country. Since Napoleon, the State was dominating, being the only level holding the legislative power, the only one collecting taxes and consequently having resources. Municipalities, which are very numerous, and especially departments (around one hundred) had thus hardly any consistent autonomy. Regions (they are 22 in continental France, to have an element of comparison with departments) were at first purely administrative groupings. It was only in 1972 that they were endowed with elected assemblies. Their competences have been will been actually widened up from the so-called decentralization laws, the first of them having been adopted in 1982, a short time after the election of the first left president of the Fifth Republic, François Mitterrand.

Since then, there has been more and more devolution of competences to the regions:

– In the economic field, through the elaboration of regional plans of economic development,
– For transportation, with a regional plan of infrastructures and of transports,
– For education, culture and, especially, vocational training

These competences are consistent, they allowed the left in the electoral debate to campaign on the theme: “voting for the Left is giving regions the means to become a social shield “, that means for the people, by opposition to the decision of the government, after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, to establish a ” fiscal shield ” for the rich, limiting their fiscal contribution. But, according to an argument moved by the Right to justify the very high level of abstention in these regional elections, regions would be still too recent to interest the population, who hardly knows about their very role and doesn’t even know the name of their presidents, as diverse polls have shown. This explanation is obviously a little bit short-sighted. It seems to ignore that abstention increases in all the elections, with the exception of the presidential one. And especially that it is particularly important in what we call in France the “sensitive areas” (that means where most people are poor, at least socially disadvantaged) within the  big cities and their suburbs. And that this abstention also expresses the depreciation which strikes today politics in general and the “traditional” political parties more specifically.

The place of the extreme Right

One should not make a mistake, this place has existed for a long time. Since the end of the 19th century, there have been in France populist politicians whose influence sometimes threatened the very republican institution, at that time still fragile. They were supported by all those who had not really agreed, a century later, to have been the losers of the French Revolution or those who, later, were going to be, from another point of view, the losers of the Industrial revolution, mainly the tradespeople and the artisans in the cities.

In the 1930s, influential groups in France looked with sympathy at what took place in Germany and in Italy with the rise of fascism. During the 1929 crisis, of which middle classes became the main victims, the believers in an authoritarian regime, a “national” extreme-right groups rather than “fascists” one, in the Italian or German way, leaned on the widespread antiparliamentary feelings, fed by some financial scandals and the ceaseless changes of government, to organize real riots in February, 1934. The parliamentary Left, then in power, denounces it as an attempt of fascist coup d’etat. The result was however going to take away the danger for a while: labor unions, which had divided in 1921, reunified ; the Popular Front Left won the 1936 elections. But the war and the invasion of the country were going to allow the extreme-right leagues to take their revenge in 1940, with the end of the Third Republic and the coming into power of marshal Pétain. I do not insist here on what in France we call the collaboration, which was going to allow the extreme-right not only to serve as auxiliaries to the Nazis but, as it is revealed more and more today, to play an active role in the deportation of the Jews and the gypsies, as well as of the political opponents, the communists, the socialists but also many right-wing people refusing  fascism.

One can understand that, under these conditions, the extreme-right seemed to disappear, with the exception of some very tiny groups, during the decades which followed the Second World war. For example, when Le Pen decided to stand for the 1974 presidential election, as a representative of the then very young NF, he got 0,75 % of the votes cast (to compare with the about 15% he obtained in 1988 !). But the recollection of the dark years of the occupation and the treason of the “national Right” does not explain the whole situation. We can add some other factors:
– The strong economic growth until the middle of the 1970s, which led to speak of the Thirty glorious (years) to indicate these three decades. The considerable increase of the average standard of living, alomost no unemployment, deprived the extreme-right of one of its favourite arguments: to denounce ” the system “, ” the profiteers “, “the politicians”, ” the parliamentarism”, etc.

– The strongly nationalist character of the Gaullism, which satisfied the ” national right “, not so much inclined under  these conditions to adopt extreme-right views.

On the other hand, the decolonization (around the early 1960s) meant for France  the loss of its colonial empire and, consequently, of its influence in the world. It allowed the extreme-right to lean on a feeling of frustration and the demonization of those, the  Arabs in particular, who became some years later most of the migrants. If the decolonization process was almost peaceful in Africa, it was very violent in Indochina (today Vietnam) and, especially, in Algeria. Whole generations of soldiers were sent into this ” dirty war ” which, furthermore, did not want to say its name. Officially, the matter was only to “pacify” Algeria !

All this was going to give to Jean-Marie Le Pen (who went himself as a volunteer to Indochina and to Algeria, where he has been accused of having practised torture) and to the National Front the main ingredients for their political emergence.

The National Front defines itself at the same time as being a part of the “national Right” (which may explain its trend towards xenophobia and even racism, with the motive that the French identity would be threatened), as being populist (The NF criticizes elites and advocates appeal to the people, which must obviously be embodied in a charismatic face, the leader) and sovereignist (the NF thus refuses any transfer of sovereignty, it is against Europe and fustigates globalization). We shall note however, it is a tradition in the French radical right, that it does not consider itself as an extreme right-wing party!

The deterioration of the economic situation from the 1970s, the rise of  unemployment and then poverty, was going to feed the populist discourse of the NF. According to its leaders, it defends the poor people, accuses the rich and the political and economic elites, without moving back from the resumption of the old anti-semite slogans, taking so up another solidly anchored tradition of the ” national right “. This populist discourse does not hesitate to denounce – just in semblance, the economic and social programme of the NF being indeed properly reactionary – the consequences of the liberalism, which will deeply affect people from the early 1980s. It meets all the more success as the relinquishment from 1983 of the policy of “breaking off with capitalism” promised by the Left and François Mitterrand upon their arrival into  power in 1981 allows the NF to appear as the only “anti-system” party, the communists being from these years identified with the Union of the Left which discredited lastingly itself among popular classes by this “turning point to rigor “.

One should add to this the fact that from the same time, most immigrants settled down durably in France, in particular through the possibility of “family regroupment”, supposed to be the counterpart of the end of immigration announced in 1974. For the NF, the immigrants become the cause of all the troubles. “They take the work of the French people “, when ” they do not eat their bread “. They “Islamize” France. In that time, immigrants came indeed mostly from North Africa and, gradually, from sub-Saharan Africa. This rhetoric finds thus considerable echo in regions, particularly in Southern France, where those we call in France the “Repatriated” from Algeria, having left this country when it became independent in 1962, have started a new life.

This rather complex reality of the National Front in the French political scene from its first big electoral successes (it started in 1983, on the occasion of a municipal but highly mediatized election in Dreux near Paris, then at the European elections of 1984 the NF got about 11 % of the votes, after a quite small 0,75 % in the general election three years previously!) may explain the main features of the NF’s implantation today:

– In regions formerly industrialized as Lorraine or the North of France, where the crises of the mining and of the steel industry dislocated totally the economic structure and, consequently, the social structure. They are also regions where these industries, operating with lowly qualified workers, attracted many immigrants, in particular of North Africa after the Second World war (before, they came rather from Poland, from Central Europe or from Italy). They are established today since two, even three generations and are French. It does not prevent the NF from stating that they remain immigrants and Muslims, what allows it to play upon the fears already mentioned.

– In the South of the country, in particular along the Mediterranean Coast, the strong presence of the “repatriated people” from North Africa allows the NF to exceed there also 20 % of the votes in the last regional elections. In this region, the NF was even able in the past to govern relatively important cities.

Certainly, this very simple scheme (with a Southeast / Northwest bow where the NF  exceeds everywhere 10 % of the votes and sometimes 20% as in Marseille in the South and in the region of Lille in the North; a sharply lower presence in the rest of the country) does not exhaust the reality. The National Front is sometimes very strong in cities of Côte d’Azur the population of which is rather wealthy. Also, it happens that whole villages of the rather rich region of Alsace vote mainly for the National Front. But, globally, this image is however rather close to the reality.

The dangerous game of the Right

Historically, the border between the right and the National Front has always been rather permeable. When the National Front obtained more than thirty members of Parliament in the National Assembly in 1986, most of them were formerly lected as candidates of ordinary ight-wing parties.

With Nicolas Sarkozy, the ambition became quite different: he would have wanted to attract the voters of the National Front not so much through  policies  capable of ending the disparities which are preying on the country and which add fresh fuel to the NF vote, but by taking back some of the themes which made the success of the NF:

– a bit of populism (” I listen to you, contrary to the other politicians who do not”),

– a big emphasis put on the matter of security (Sarkozy was Minister for Home Affairs before becoming President of the Republic and election campaigns have been for years opportunities to display police forces and to focus on well chosen criminal affairs such as assaults on elder people, etc.)

– and a relatively new form: the theme of national identity.

Some words on this matter. From the formation of the first government under Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, an important institutional innovation was introduced with the creation of a Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Jointly liable development. This last element – Jointly liable development – was lately added, in order to calm down the outcry of indignation against the three first ones and their amalgamation. From a symbolic point of view, the association of national identity and immigration made indeed a strong gesture, making clearly of the immigration a problem for the national identity. We were thus very close to the usual rhetoric of the NF on this matter. This ambiguity was going to be stressed by the initiative of a ” debate on the national identity ” taken in November, 2009 by the Minister concerned, one of the former leaders of the Socialist Party Éric Besson. To tell the truth, he just endorsed a promise made by Nicolas Sarkosy during the presidential election campaign. But the dates finally chosen are blurting out the real objective pursued: the debate had to end with a national colloquium two weeks before… the regional elections of March, 2010. In fact, the debate started very badly. As many observers forecasted it, it quickly  turned into a debate on immigration and not around national identity. Which opened a boulevard for the most extreme opinions, so much that the government was forced to bury rapidly the debate itself in oblivion. The real winner was thus the NF, the favourite themes of which came back onto the front of the stage, this time even without any initiative of its own. But, as it was said on other occasions in France, ” the voters prefer generally the original to the copy “. This episode thus very probably restored some legitimacy and voters to the NF and to its ideas, without any benefit for the President’s UMP.

By way of (a brief) conclusion

The crisis and its consequences on the population, in particular on the most fragile groups, maintains the fear of the future and the loss of confidence in the capacity of the political elites to bring up long-lasting solutions. This provides credibility to the populist themes developed by the extreme-right, including xenophobia and racism. In a country like France, this “refusal of the other one” has privileged targets, in connection with the history of the country in the 20th century. For years, these targets have mainly been the “Arabs”, and more generally the Muslims (islamophobia), including their children having been French for one or two generations. But the changes of geopolitical nature and the new flows of immigration which result from it (Eastern European countries, Turkey, the Middle East and Asia – Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, etc.) create new tensions. It is an issue the Left and the anti-globalization activists cannot ignore today.