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(en) Russia, avtonom: Alexander Bikbov: "Stanislav Markelov - the figure of the history of the future" [machine translation]
Sun, 10 Feb 2019 11:39:30 +0200
Killed by a neo-Nazi assassin on January 19, 2009, Stanislav Markelov was a real
phenomenon, a living embodiment of an impossible combination of properties. ----
Inexplicably successful and in his 34 already famous lawyer in high-profile political
affairs, led the left youth movement, a man of many unrelated media, a supporter of a
strong social state, a punk-rock connoisseur, a lawyer of anti-fascists, trade unions,
non-formals and Novaya Gazeta, ardent a human rights activist and a fierce critic of
Russian liberalism, a political platform and a public intellectual who had every chance of
becoming a truly important figure in a new, not yet new era. ---- As is often the case,
the most famous side of his biography begins with success in the professional field: with
political processes that he regularly won and even in the event of a loss could
brilliantly turn into a public demonstration of lameness of Russian justice. Earlier
moments of his biography and lesser-known aspects of his professional activity would
clarify the source of his amazing skills and extraordinary views.
The published interview is especially valuable for this. Responding to my request to tell
about the Russian trade unions and his law practice, Markelov, in fact, allowed to look
into that dimension of his life and work, where the big historical is closely intertwined
with the intimate biographical. Markelov, the organizer of the largest student movement of
the 1990s, Markelov, defender of dismissed workers in regional enterprises, Markelov, a
practitioner of radical social democracy: all these non-obvious components of a successful
lawyer's career illustrate what a non-trivial trajectory he followed.
Today, as at the time of the conversation, the rational rigor and figurative richness,
with which Stanislav describes three areas of experience, where he himself was actively
immersed, are striking at the same time. These are the student actions of the 90s, the
conflicts of labor collectives with the administrations of enterprises in the 2000s and
the tactics of confrontations hidden behind the facade of constantly reforming
legislation. He regards all phenomena in these areas with the impeccable look of a
strategist who is interested in how this is done, which hinders movement towards the goal,
how it can be globally changed.
The rational rigor and figurative richness with which Stanislav describes three areas of
experience, where he himself was actively immersed, are striking at the same time.
At the same time, it is impossible not to notice the crafty sparks of the player and the
wit that marked his strategic analysis. So, talking about the rise and collapse of the
trade union movement of the 90s "Student Defense", co-organizer of which he was, Stanislav
does not forget to mention the key role of the party and ideological "unprincipled" in
organizational work. And while describing the course of labor conflicts, he is sincerely
impressed not only by the stamina, but also by the short-sightedness of the workers, and
sometimes he is able to assess - as a worthy opponent - the tricks and tricks of the
Everything Markelov talks about is marked by an amazing mastery of details and the ability
to link them. His analysis of the high-profile case of the late 90s at the Vyborg Pulp and
Paper Mill, when workers seized the company to re-launch production, is a ready-made
script for a future film comparable in entertainment to the Scorsese Gangs of New York. A
description of the student demonstration in 1995 in the center of Moscow, one of the
organizers of which he was, sounds like a plan that you need to have for the future. Ten
years later, Markelov reproduces from memory an exact map of the demonstration movement in
the city, its stopping points and the content of key events.
This interview reveals not only a personal biography and a great story. It allows you to
see how the thinking of Markelov the analyst and Markelov the lawyer works. Last intrigued
me especially. How did he manage to win the most incredible things, including political
ones, which in Russian practice are often considered "hopeless"? Somehow, answering my
questions about the strategies of impossible victory, he gave a shockingly simple answer.
"You see," he explained with a smile, "Russian justice is arranged so that the lawyer in
the process is not a defender, but an intermediary between the parties. And in a number of
cases an intermediary who simply puts money in portfolios. There is even such a playful
name for this phenomenon "Stork." Of course, I never did this. On the contrary. I just do
everything by the rules - and this alone is often enough. I carefully read all the
materials of the case, looking for inconsistencies and violations, studying the
precedents. Often the level in our courts is such that judges and lawyers simply do not
own the body of law and do not read the materials. And if you go to the end, based on the
procedure, the judge has no choice but to make a decision in my favor. "
This consistency and exactingness about one's own knowledge is very clear in the analysis
of the trade union movement that Stanislav proposes. One of the famous processes against
the "Cadet" riot police in 2005, Markelov won due to the fact that he did not collect all
possible evidence, but on the contrary, excluded from the case evidence that was not
perfect. His answers in the interview line up in the same way. It can be seen to what
extent he is accustomed to excluding all unnecessary things and judging only that he knows
for sure. Like Newton, Markelov, a public thinker, "does not invent theories" of Russian
law enforcement or of a political regime. He makes generalizations organically, based on
experience and proven observations.
In ten years, much has changed in professional law practice. On political and labor
matters, a whole generation of lawyers was formed, whom Stanislav could call his
colleagues not only on a formal basis. Less often, storks with plump envelopes fly from
office to office. But shifts in the organization of a vast field of labor, which Markelov
noted back in 2006, have become an important part of the overall landscape. On the one
hand, small trade unions in the educational and cultural sector took to the public stage.
On the other hand, the struggle against independent trade unions has become tougher and
the position of corporate ones has been strengthened, where directors are united with
hired employees "in unison".
Well-built, highly specific observations of Markelov remain in these circumstances an
important line for reference and comparison. Traitorously stopped at the threshold of the
2010s, he seemed to have walked around the alley this unfriendly decade, before being in a
new, yet unknown era.
An abbreviated interview was published in the collection "Nobody but Me" (2009), dedicated
to the memory of Stanislav Markelov. For the current publication, I reconfigured it with
the audio recording, eliminating inaccuracies in decoding and recovering the missing
Can you briefly describe how the independent labor movement arose?
Until the 1990s, the independent labor movement was a big problem for the Soviet
government. And it was including much more powerful dissident. The dissident human rights
movement was concentrated mainly in large cities and had connections with the West through
international journalists. The demonstration of three people immediately learned in Europe
and America. About the labor movement did not know anything. While the working speeches in
Soviet times were constantly, and sometimes they were attended by up to several thousand
people. Although they were very dispersed, there was no organization, and in most cases
they remained unknown. Canadian researcher David Mandel explored this topic and counted
more than a hundred speeches by workers.
"Workers' speeches in Soviet times were constantly, and up to several thousand people
sometimes participated in them."
Working speeches were tough. And they took the extreme form in mining towns. It was close
to suicide when workers refused to rise from the mines. The only attempt to create
something like the Polish "Solidarity" is the SMOT[Free Interprofessional Association of
Workers, founded in 1978]. Even at the famous demonstration in Novocherkassk, the workers
raised a red flag - the same one that hung at their enterprise. This alone was considered
a crime. Movement under the red flag required wages, bread and butter. The requirements
were economic. The only more or less political was: "Down with privileges!"
At the end of the 80s, when the democratic wave had already risen, the labor movement was
very warmly welcomed by the liberal elite. Then, in essence, the creation of independent
trade unions began. And each working speech was recorded by the liberals, because it was
directed against the Soviet government and, accordingly, was beneficial to them. Many
working leaders of the 80s, with whom I spoke afterwards, said: "Yes, we very well
remember and understand that we were used." The realization of this, in varying degrees of
clarity, came to the end of 1991. That is, in the first year of the new upsurge of the
labor movement in Kuzbass, in Belarus, which was previously completely loyal to the Soviet
government. They carried out strikes that paralyzed transport communications.
"There were privileges, an elite that receives everything, a trade union that does nothing
and actually consists of the administration of an enterprise"
Naturally, the demands of the workers were reasonable. There were privileges, an elite
that receives everything, a trade union that does nothing and in fact consists of the
administration of an enterprise. The most interesting thing is that after 1991 nothing has
changed. Benefits received the same elite as before 1991. Their status has changed: from
directors to merchants. The trade unions were assigned the role of uniting workers for
servitude, as slaves of these merchants.
In the late 1980s, the trade union movement abruptly shifted to completely different
rails. Part of the trade unions was overbought, and, so frankly, that it resembled America
of the twenties.
Who bought them?
First of all, local government and business. In the conditions of Russia, their merging
was especially noticeable. In essence, it was the same thing. Rather, business led the
government. Such a fate befell the CPR, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Russia.
This is probably the most striking example. Changed and forms of working speeches.
The situation from the 90s: the company stops, no one is dismissed, the new owner sells
the fixed assets. And the workers arrange performances - not for being defended, but for
the enterprise to work. Such a statement is not regulated by law. But, although we have
allowed what is not prohibited, in reality, these speeches of the workers also prohibited.
Strikes - arrange as you like. After all, at that time it simply formalized the familiar
situation: the non-payment of wages to workers who were sent on indefinite leave without
pay. In the event of a strike, they stopped paying officially: go ahead, strike, it's only
easier for us! During the time when the strike is going on, we will have time to sell
everything, steal, get quick money, send all the trains and pipelines. And with this money
move there too. And here you die!
It is important to understand that in the 90s, there were hunger riots hidden by the
power, already a liberal power. I know for sure. Riots arose because of the termination of
enterprises. Not because of strikes, namely, the termination of work. It was not just a
wave, but a real tsunami. In response, the workers used those methods of resistance that
are considered the most radical in the West: road closures and traffic flows. The media
reacted to this, but these actions did not make such an impression as, say, in England or
The situation from the 90s: the company stops, no one is dismissed, the new owner sells
the fixed assets
The most striking example of the anti-privatization wave is the situation at the Vyborg
Pulp and Paper Mill[in 1996-99]. This was probably the most famous case of the period in
which I participated. The pulp and paper mill is a unique enterprise, of which there are
only two in Europe. And Vyborg is next to Peter, far from the outskirts of Russia. There
literally began hunger. There was no money, and people borrowed and paid off debts with
potatoes. Children were brought to the city canteen to look at food. They kept them in the
grass, collecting mushrooms and berries in the summer.
Vyborg pulp and paper mill was privatized, as always with a bunch of violations. Workers
are waiting for a new owner to start working, but he does not appear. And the workers
start looking for him. Looking for a host to start working on him! And he has already put
everything together and sold the maximum possible shares. It turns out that the owner of a
unique enterprise, which is sold for a pittance - for sixteen thousand rubles in case of
repayment of debts - this person, who received fantastic dividends, is wanted by Interpol.
Together with Interpol, workers are looking for a host, and they don't find one.
Then they seize the enterprise into their own hands, they all incorporate into one share,
give it to the local trade union, which they themselves have organized - the trade union
of the Vyborg pulp and paper mill - and begin to work. The company immediately began to
generate income and pay taxes to the state. Before that, for several years it did not give
anything. What ended this thing?[In 1999]it ended with riot police. And not just by riot
police, but Typhoon - by a special unit for the suppression of unrest and speeches in
prison zones. Typhoon broke into the Vyborg pulp and paper mill, beating several dozen
people, including women, on the way very cruelly.
After the riot police took the enterprise by storm, the workers rose - so that they could
block the riot police. The wave in the liberal press has gone. And sometimes with the
requirements to bring to justice not riot police, but workers. That is, not against the
owners and the authorities, but against the workers, who put the enterprise on its feet,
which began to bring state revenue. Among these media outlets were such leading liberal
publications as the newspaper Izvestia. So, one of their reports directed against the
workers ended with the words: "Why did not the Kantemirov division rise?" That is, why the
workers did not beat even more and did not enter the tanks? A striking example of liberal
journalism and the liberal newspaper of the time.
By the way, the Vyborg case showed a key weakness of the trade union movement. Trust in
the government was maintained here until the very last moment. It is here, in the place -
evil gangsters, and there, upstairs - good people. It is enough to prove the corruption of
local authorities, and Moscow will understand, Moscow will understand. "Since we are
right, we don't need to prove our case, we can ignore the courts," etc. So the workers
lost all the courts, because they did not even have lawyers. When they began to turn to
lawyers, they could not work with them, because they were not used to communicating not
with the workers, but with the state's clients. The workers lost outright. As a result, a
criminal case was opened against them, although all the injuries - and serious injuries,
before fractures, concussions of the brain and broken kidneys - were just among the
workers. The criminal case was initiated on a very serious article "
"It is enough to prove the venality of local government, and Moscow will understand,
Moscow will understand"
When I met with trade union activists at the pulp and paper mill, I told them: "Guys, why
are you, they can plant you!" And they: "How so? We are right! We do not need any
protection, we are right. The court will figure it out!" Thank God, this danger was
removed. Yes, they held out and were able to prove that when the workers take power in the
enterprise, it begins to work much more efficiently than with all the privatization taken
together. But in the end they were crushed. And the Vyborg combine was sold out.
The next very vivid indicator of the activity of workers was the strikes organized by the
air traffic controllers union. And here is a very interesting moment. Pay attention to
what trade unions have been the most active since the late 90s. They are air traffic
controllers, dockers who recently organized a very large strike in St. Petersburg, and
sailors. These are the categories of workers that are most in demand and have inventories.
They have fairly high salaries, though not comparable to the severity of their work and
working conditions. And their actions always led to the desired result, unlike the
speeches of all the others.
And the miners in the late 90s?
The situation with miners is different: they are simply not needed by anyone when the
fixed assets of the mines are sold off. With the elimination of the coal mine create
strategic reserves, close production. And they need the miners like a humanoid who has
flown in: they have enough of their own problems. Some coal projects died, entire coal
lands died. I talked with employees of the coal concern, where everything was degraded,
there is no work, people left. They promised all of them first, they believed. And now
there is just an extinct region, extinct villages. Unlike miners, the air traffic
controller, seaman and docker professions still have a need and importance for people.
They went to the strikes and succeeded.
In 2000, there was a turn when a new business, finally merging with the government, began
to work not on speculative transactions, but began to rely on longer-term profits.
Accordingly, they were forced to create permanent jobs and working conditions. How did
they solve this problem? They created their own trade unions within corporations. Trade
unions of workers of "YUKOS", "Gazprom". They were engaged in the same that is customary
for Soviet workers of the seventies: the distribution of vouchers, kindergartens, a small
improvement in social life. What in the West does the HR manager. Accordingly, for many,
the ban on the strike was prescribed in the charters and treaties.
In 2000, there was a turn when a new business, finally merging with the authorities, began
to work not on speculative transactions, but began to rely on longer-term profits.
This is on the one hand. On the other hand, the monster of the FNPR[Federation of
Independent Trade Unions of Russia], which unites both workers and employers within
itself, continues to operate. And legally it is absolutely illegal. The new Labor Code
stipulates that managers and management personnel are representatives of the
administration. Therefore, even the existence of such a union is illegal. There is the
concept of "corporate union", in Italian law there is the concept of "convenient union" -
FNPR exactly fits this definition.
At the official level, I came across Andrei Isaev. This is a remarkable person who has
passed the path from an anarchist to one of the leaders of United Russia and who managed
to go everywhere, including in the trade union field. He now heads the Committee on Labor
and Social Policy of the State Duma and is one of the developers of the modern Labor Code.
Isaev argued that FNPR is a normal trade union, because top managers, directors, are also
employees. And therefore they have common interests with the work collective. As a result,
the union does not even have a strike fund. The largest trade union, which owns rest
houses and a bank and others, does not have a strike fund, since it does not hold a
strike. That he does not need.
What is the union bank called?
"Solidarity". For some frauds it was closed. But he still exists. And the leader of this
trade union, Shmakov, has a dacha near Luzhkov, on Rublevskoe highway. What is the current
situation with trade unions? In the new labor law, the manifestation of any trade union
activity is very limited. First, they officially banned the strikes of solidarity.
Everything. If you want to support colleagues in the workshop with a strike of solidarity,
you have no right to do this. Secondly, they introduced a very tricky system[in case of
controversial issues]. If there are several trade unions in the enterprise - an
independent trade union and FNPRO, they act on behalf of a certain number of workers, for
example, for concluding a collective agreement, if their opinions coincided - well. But if
their positions diverged, the position of that union is taken, which has more members.
Since the official union is entered automatically, and very often people are signed up
immediately when applying for a job (often this is a condition of admission to the
enterprise), FNPR always has more members. In many enterprises there were cases when the
director of the enterprise is at the same time the head of the trade union. One person.
And so it turns out that independent trade unions lose their right to vote in the event of
a conflict. This is how labor legislation was drawn up. that independent trade unions lose
their right to vote in the event of a conflict. This is how labor legislation was drawn up
that independent trade unions lose their right to vote in the event of a conflict. This is
how labor legislation was drawn up
"The manifestation of any trade union activity is very limited in the new labor law"
Every labor conflict results in very unpleasant consequences. And encourages not very
honest actions on the part of the entrepreneur. The last major and interesting work is
very significant. An independent branch of the trade union Zashchita was created in the
branch of the Russian railways of the Moscow region. And first of all, the
controllers-auditors created it - those who go to check tickets. If the passenger did not
take the ticket when the controller passes, he must pay a fine and receive a receipt. They
began to press on the controllers, they made a plan for them - at least one thousand one
hundred rubles. The overseers were outraged and created a trade union. When this conflict
began to unwind, trade unionists raised the question: what is the plan for fines? RZD is a
public company, private enterprise. Who should take fines? Money should go to the company.
I went into this business. Together with Deputy Shein, we raised the budget lines of
Russian Railways, and it turned out that there is simply no such column. Huge sums go
nowhere. They began to raise this issue in the suburbs. And as soon as they realized that
this question was open, the money appeared in the local budget. Type of their cashed. And
the amount they cashed in a year turned out, if I remember correctly in terms of dollars,
three and a half million dollars. In the budget, all our incomes are fixed, which means
that this transfer must be very transparent. This situation is in one region - in the
Moscow Region, in less than a year. And how many regions do we have? That is, people
paying a fine on the railways pay them to no one knows where. Roughly speaking, this is a
direct, tax-free income of the Russian Railways management. The maximum that we managed to
achieve these are instructions from the prosecutor's office to stop this practice. But the
prosecutor's office refused to initiate criminal proceedings. Otherwise, she would have to
initiate proceedings against one of the largest oligarchic companies in Russia. That is,
there was a violation, we sent them a prescription, but there will be no criminal case.
Everything. So a small conflict grew into an all-Russian business. But the union leader is
fired, and he is still refused to be reinstated. The administrative lever is in the hands
of the authorities. The court itself is "on the territory" of the Russian Railways, that
is, all the affairs of the Russian Railways are held only there. The administration of the
region has no interest to quarrel with the company, which brings it the main income. we
sent them a prescription, but there will be no criminal case. Everything. So a small
conflict grew into an all-Russian business. But the union leader is fired, and he is still
refused to be reinstated. The administrative lever is in the hands of the authorities. The
court itself is "on the territory" of the Russian Railways, that is, all the affairs of
the Russian Railways are held only in it. The administration of the region has no interest
to quarrel with the company, which brings it the main income. we sent them a prescription,
but there will be no criminal case. Everything. So a small conflict grew into an
all-Russian business. But the union leader is fired, and he is still refused to be
reinstated. The administrative lever is in the hands of the authorities. The court itself
is "on the territory" of the Russian Railways, that is, all the affairs of the Russian
Railways are held only in it. The administration of the region has no interest to quarrel
with the company, which brings it the main income.
But there are certainly successful examples of trade union action?
There is. These are the same air traffic controllers that I talked about. By hunger
strike, they were able to win, were able to defend their rights. It is very clearly
visible, these are representatives of those very necessary professions that have a real
Do you know examples of successful organization of the trade union movement of workers at
a university, school, or academic environment?
Now there is a wave - educators are trying to organize themselves, primarily secondary,
and universities sometimes join them. Because working conditions are just disastrous.
Despite all national programs, in many regions it is even getting worse.
As for intellectual workers, there was a very interesting moment. I was approached by the
employees of the host of the TV channel, where massive illegal dismissals took place. I
told them: "It's inconvenient for me to work with each of you individually. Your demands
are absolutely legal. Your dismissals are illegal. Here you organize a trade union
together." They: "How should we organize a trade union? What do you mean? Everyone is a
unique value in itself. Can we walk around with a red flag?" As a result, everyone was fired.
Rather, it is a bad example.
Well, yes, but it shows the characteristic attitude of creative workers in a similar
situation. Often they are amazed at the liberal ideology.
And student unions?
Oh, this is a separate topic! In the field of education[from the beginning of the
90s]there was RAPOS, the Russian Association of Students' Union Organizations, a
structural unit of the FNPR, where students, together with teachers, pay contributions in
a friendly manner. In the mid-90s, such an idea took place in the left movement, that one
should focus not on political slogans, which often boiled down to whether you are white or
red, whether you like or dislike the Communists, but on social slogans. Among the students
the most popular are: scholarships, deferment from the army, the ability to choose
teachers and so on. And you need to demand this, at least to the minimum level.
But even when the requirements were minimal, they were already perceived as some kind of
radicalism. In contrast to 68 in France, where the slogan was: "Be realistic, demand the
impossible!" After we started demanding the most minimal things, they called us
"ultraradicals", accomplices of the "red brigades" and modern "Maoists" - who they didn't
On the other hand, the creation of trade unions on such a basis, that is, with a clear
ideology, helped to prevent not even a split, but a complete fragmentation of the youth
movement. There were not fifty, but one hundred and fifty warring factions that can not
tolerate each other: the communists are reminded of the past, anarchists do not like
Trotskyists, Trotskyists are Stalinists, the Trotskyists take a step both to the left and
to the right as an escape from their ideology, etc., etc. . But the emergence of the
Student Defense trade union in many ideological leftists caused a bright, tough antipathy.
Because in "StudentZashchita", anarchists, socialists, Komsomol members, whom they
couldn't tolerate and now cannot bear it, as well as part of the left who were ready to
cooperate with anyone at all, as a person who became the chairman of the trade union, were
included. For that "
Due to what?
Due to the fact that it was fun, it was cool. Due to the fact that - no adults at all. All
real requirements that were put forward from the bottom were immediately supported.
Everything that directly concerns you was immediately supported.
And it was not only in Moscow?
In many cities: St. Petersburg, Tula, Novosibirsk (the largest organization), Rostov,
Moscow. There were many. One of the members of the executive committee of "Studzashchita"
said that the number reached fifteen thousand people. In my opinion, rather ten to twelve
thousand people. There was a wide variation in the regions. Naturally, a significant part,
if not a large one, is absolutely passive, those who simply wrote statements. But the
largest actions that the left could hold were StudentZashchita.
How did this happen?
April 12, 1994 rally RAPOS demanding "Increase your salary!" Student-Zashchitovtsy come
there, take all the people away from the RAPOS, and begin an unauthorized rally at the
White House. Conduct a mass march through the center of Moscow and reach the Theater.
Naturally, with a massive screw from the police. I know the details only from the words,
because I did not participate. And the next year, everything repeated exactly, only they
decided to play it safe. On a tip from the RAPOSTS, who simply pointed with a finger, the
leaders of "Student Defense" were immediately arrested: Kostenko, Igor Malyarov, people
with flags and banners. And they thought we were beheaded. Well, here they miscalculated a
little, because many, including me, for example, did not carry flags.
As a result, with the slogan: "Guys, let's repeat how it was fun last year," they went
again from the center. But this time everything was much tougher. Because there were more
police, riot police appeared. A year ago, there was no riot police. But the demonstrators
turned out to be more. As a result, on the road several times the police tried to stop,
cut off their tails, grabbed people. They blocked the Arbat, but with lanes, changing
tactics, we managed to bypass police cordons several times - there are many lanes there.
They went to the Arbat, defeated the office of "Albi", one of the then corporations. And
on the Arbat joined informals hanging out there. They approached the Ministry of Defense,
filled it with paint: just the first Chechen war was already underway. And they decided to
go to the Kremlin. They went out and went through Znamenka to the Manege. On Manezhnaya
there was not yet this Tseretelevsky horror, it was a single square. There riot police
applied such tactics: cut the demonstration into three parts. As a result, the two parts
are partially screwed, partially scattered. But the head of the column, about one hundred
fifty-two hundred, tried to go to Red Square. She could not, but she passed by the
Alexander Garden and went to the Theater. There were fascists, with whom they fought. The
latter were taken away already on Nikolskaya Street.
"Independent actions continued in the tradition of student mayows"
Independent actions continued in the tradition of student mays, well, or not quite may.
When there were events on Tiananmen, in a sign of solidarity at the site in front of
Moscow State University, students - and other universities joined us - broke up a tent
city for the night. Then, in new times, it all stopped. We have resumed this tradition.
They also staged a tent camp, but with left slogans and red flags, not tricolor flags. And
the student body just came to the left party, as it should be. And again in the
ideologized left-wing environment, these demonstrations provoked the disapproval of so
many. Because they said that the total mass of students came only to hang out, but it was
not ideological. They came with bottles of beer and they liked being free to perform. Some
Natsik tried to penetrate there, it was also,
What else was there? February 23, 1995 staged a pacifist march from the Arbat, together
with the informals. And he was not scattered, although it was unauthorized. At the Moscow
State University site in October 1994, if I remember correctly, they staged an
unauthorized demonstration and burned a stuffed bourgeois. The police tried to incite
local students against us, like: these are commies.
Did you manage to agree?
No, but it was possible to prevent collisions. But some people screwed about ten people.
Conducted their own conferences, it was all. And the conference turned, again, into
parties. Also we established contacts with organizations of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova,
especially with Belarus, it worked out well. The rise of the anti-Lukashenka youth
movement had just begun there.
As for the promotion of students' requirements - what did you manage to implement?
In a number of places it was possible. Mostly on a social level, on the simplest. For
example, free movement inside the student dormitory, payment of scholarships without
delay, provision of premises inside the university. Each had their own requirements.
Political work was at a very low level. Moreover, the fame was actively spreading about
the trade union that these were only bouzoteurs. Therefore, we began to develop our own
bill on behalf of students who were officially trying to conduct through the State Duma.
This bill should be in my home. Now this has already become forgotten.
Did you manage to bring him to a vote in the Duma?
As I recall, the Communists were afraid to nominate him for an official vote, but there
were no other leftists at that time. We must find it - it is not in electronic form, but
in paper form. I am not sure that after several moves he has remained with me. Probably
preserved in the archives, you can raise.
The ideological dislike for the trade union remained. But even without it, after 1995,
Studzashita went down sharply. There were several reasons. First, who are we? Either we
fight for social rights, or we constantly put forward political slogans. Secondly, for
those times we received a huge number. By my count, ten thousand. Literally, a person
comes from Novosibirsk and brings just a bundle of applications. In the same Novosibirsk,
whole groups joined the "StudentZashchitu", because in the official trade union it is
necessary to pay fees, and in the "StudZashchit" it is not necessary. What to do with it?
We did not know how to accumulate these numbers of people. It was a mass of liability:
where to put it?
Thirdly, the Communists took up the election race. Dasha Mitina, a member of the executive
committee of "Student Defense", entered the State Duma from them and became a deputy. They
switched there: all these Komsomol members did not become in "StudZashchit". Plus a
complete lack of funding. Where to get money from? We did not have them. Finally, if we
positioned ourselves as a radical left-wing political union, this very much limited
people: there was no need to touch the ideology, it was necessary to agree on that.
Although there was no particular dispute. They arose behind the scenes. However, at one of
the conferences a group of anarchists began to throw bottles into the speakers. But
literally the next day, everyone already sat together and drank.
Komsomol members tried to bring the "Studzashchu" under the Communist Party - that was
insane. Well, that's all, we have stalled. That is, we existed for about a year or two.
Things like "StudentZashchita" did not develop into the system.
Have you tried to develop mechanisms for transferring such activity to undergraduate students?
We could not. Because the mechanisms of activity were rooted in the left environment, and
student leaders, in fact, did not appear. All the leaders, all the executive committee,
were leaders of various political groups. They said: Let us be considered bastards, but we
will not touch the ideology. Though you go, as it is sung, with the profile of Stalin on
the left breast, and with the father Makhno on the other. By the way, they asked me: "Just
please stay, don't leave! Otherwise we have some radical freaks. And so, with you, we will
have Social Democrats. We will say that we have moderate also". And I figured as a member
of the Social Democratic Party (laughs). Of course, I could then tattoo myself on
anything, and everyone did not care.
And the whole student body, all the assets reacted like this: "Oh, you are having fun,
it's cool! Let us lead you, and we will support you." I asked them: "Guys, can you arrange
something yourself?" - "Well, no. We do not know how." That is, it was difficult to create
such a system for rotation to take place. Moreover, the personnel shortage began: some of
the anarchists moved away, part of the leftists, too, just ran. Komsomol members switched.
I know that now there are attempts to recreate this experience. It's amazing that people
are trying to start again, stepping on the same rake.
Because there are no people who have already gone through this and passed on the experience?
Yes it is. From the year 96 I switched to Rainbow Keepers and other environmental
movements. Some of the "StudentZashchita" also switched there.
By ak administration of universities perceived the student union, and what pressure
equipment on it were themselves effective?
In fact, the university administration is always very cowardly. She is very afraid that
she herself will be punished. Therefore, it acts according to the principle that
everything is quiet, so that no one shows with a finger that in our university, so
glorious and famous, they take bribes at each entrance exam. They are very afraid of
combat students - always. And they always have a hard pressure lever - deduction. How will
the student then prove that he was wrongly dismissed? Whose word will be more credible -
the rector of the university or student? And in relation to people from the outside: they
immediately began to look for who ordered them. Once created a union, it is either to
remove them from the post, or the machinations of competitors. They never understood that
these could be truly legal requirements.
Are there existing trade unions that seriously affect the balance of power in favor of
Do you mean individual enterprises? Or on a national scale?
Here and there.
In the all-Russian is not, definitely. In some enterprises, these are industry trade
unions. An example is the last performance of dockers in St. Petersburg. Or another option
- the trade unions of one enterprise. The most recent major labor dispute I know is at the
Yasnogorsk Combine. There is a hunger strike there, and a very serious one. Some of the
people were taken to hospital, to intensive care. The situation there is very tough. But I
don't have the details, because I didn't do this myself, but they print little information.
And the trade unions, which have branches in different cities, how does the Sheinskaya
"Defense" - does it work?
This is possible primarily as trade unions of individual enterprises, united among
themselves. "Protection" is perhaps the most visible force, although it must be admitted
that it is minimal. An effective trade union implies a certain mass character.
The question really remains open. Being a teacher, I often faced the question of how I can
express my displeasure and put pressure on the administration. In situations that
obviously concern not only me personally. Usually there are only two levers. Either you
come to the dean personally, if you have access to it, and talk to him, or you complain to
your superiors, you write a message. The alternative is to talk with other teachers. And
the question is, what can you agree on in this way? How can you put pressure on the
administration together? Do not take exams? Hostages will be students. It is not very
clear what levers teachers can use.
Photo from the archive of "Studzashchita": April 12, 1995, rally at the Government House
of the Russian Federation. In a few minutes, inspired by the Studzashchita agitators, the
students will move to storm the Kremlin.
In "StudentZashite" in such a situation, they tried to use what appeared in the conflict,
what is called "third people", that is, an external factor. When Vasya Pupkin himself
could not do this: to conflict, write requests to deputies, and so on. Then the
administration has three options. First - to ban: that you get into my university, you
have no right! Then - surprise: who ordered me? Well, the third option: it is better to
quietly stop it so that it does not go further.
That is, the noise factor works: the administration discovers that the noise is growing
and wants it to stop. So?
Not just noise. The noise immediately moves to another plane. What did we use? Deputy
inquiries: this is not only noise, it is an indicator of the level of protection Appeals
to the prosecutor for violations. And who does not have them? They asked for a
prosecutor's check. Let them refuse. But, to refuse, must request information. Therefore,
the administration will already be in the know.
It is very interesting! But you are right, noting that the degree of mobilization in the
intellectual environment is extremely small. And objectively, it cannot be very large
precisely because spontaneously liberal ideology is spread in it.
In fact of the matter. But if you raise it for any liberal ideas, then the mobilization
will be relatively large. But only on the liberal. The social demands of the liberals are
allergic, especially in Russia.
Summarizing your experience, how can trade unions act to influence the situation on a
national scale rather than an individual enterprise? The same question concerns the
intellectual and student environment.
I think that in a student's environment it is not trade unions that should be created, but
a movement. Trade union items, including protection, can take over branches of
interdisciplinary trade unions in universities. Where is this such a more traditional
union approach. A movement in the student community to organize with political binding.
Because she is unable to constantly work on professional issues. Maybe once she was able
to show herself, but not all the time. Why do we need this work of two types? Because
students are now very focused on employment. This is their main problem. And having an
interdisciplinary student union will be very helpful in organizing this bundle when you
are among the representatives of your own profession for which you are studying. It will
help the young man to be in the environment, to establish contacts.
Then the main question is how to start? That is, how to make intellectual workers more
sensitive to the idea of collective interaction?
Here it is important that the union has a positive experience that it could show. So that
there would be some enterprises, to one degree or another controlled by the trade union.
This may be involved in the management, ownership of some stake, albeit not a controlling,
but significant. That is, that it should not be scattered minority shareholders who were
taken for pro forma, but those who can have a financial impact. To have an impact on
personnel policy, which is especially important for the trade union. Then the person
joining the union will understand that the union will then help him to advance. And when
this is not ...
It is important that the union has a positive experience that it could show. But in our
legislation everything is specially done to prevent this from happening. In addition to
the prohibition of strikes of solidarity, the principle has been introduced that
everything is decided not by federal labor laws, but practically lowered to the lower
level, to the level of individual and collective labor contracts. When we had sparring
with Andryusha Isaev, he told me: "Well, the whole hospital cannot have the same
temperature!" But instead of "the same temperature," he offered all self-treatment.
The usual situation is when a company has a lawyer who can write a competent collective
agreement. But who has it? At the employer. Now the lower level is the main level of legal
foundations in labor relations. And in whose favor is the contract being made? In favor of
In the West, if there is a conflict, on the one hand there is a federal union or land
union immediately, with its lawyers, and on the other, an association of entrepreneurs or
employers. And it turns out that the parties to the conflict themselves are moving aside,
and behind them the two big forces are sorting out the relationship.
Yes, that's right. And here we have no business associations as such. And employees are
just the staff of all professionals, divided between employers. Accordingly, Vasya Pupkin
must fight against professional lawyers, against the administration, who have all power
against a potential trade union. As a result, in labor matters, the most serious and
really interesting conflicts are now, they are court cases, occur only in very narrow
special areas. These are highly paid categories of individual workers: the highest level
of artists, professional athletes. They can invite an expensive lawyer. And the second
variant of the conflict is the top manager against the employer.
But in general, the splitting of the labor movement is simply extraordinary.
But in general, the splitting of the labor movement is simply extraordinary. Despite the
fact that everyone understands the causes of a low material level, the main task is to
fulfill their material requirements.
Speaking at a conference on information on prisons , which I organized[in 2006], you
mentioned that the criminal world desires to restore the death penalty in the same way as
the conservative part of Russian elites. I see this as a distant parallel with the
management of the sphere of labor: repressive consensus.
The fact is that our social elite and the criminal elite have largely grown together. In
general, the call to save the death penalty is characteristic of the entire criminal
world, from top to bottom.
And what is the main argument: to intimidate petty criminals?
The top - to frighten little things: hooligans, gangsters, "bespredelschikov." And the
lower classes see this as a demonstration of common power. That is, the general position
is: "Yes, crime must be fought. But not with me." They always distinguish themselves,
considering that they, honest thieves, should not be judged. But all sorts of maniacs,
sadists and others - of course. Even mokrushniki think so: of course, you need to save the
death penalty, you need to fight crime. They always separate themselves from the masses,
which they despise.
Yes, it is very strong and depressing. Just as when the presidents - Yeltsin, Putin, in
roughly the same logic - say: "Ineffective power must work differently!" That is, when
people in power speak about what kind of power should not be. This is a constant dismissal
of certainty, a denial of belonging - just like the criminals: "I am not a criminal. The
criminals are all others."
Here it sounds even more often: "I am an honest thief." In general, rarely in the criminal
environment there is a person who opposes punishment.
Does he not feel that this is related to him?
In the modern criminal environment there is an understanding: if something happens to me,
then I buy off. But those who can not pay off - this is trash, and they need to shoot.
That is, here too: rich and poor, just different in another zone of reality. And the rich
are not in white gloves, but with the conscience of an "honest thief."
This is ubiquitous. And the language of the criminal world confirms this.
According to a number of testimonies, including polls that should not be especially
trusted because of the basic flaws in the methodology, 60 to 90 percent of the active
population are for the death penalty.
I think this is a fair observation. The society is scared enough and shifts the functions
of its defense to the state. Realizing that they themselves cannot protect themselves from
anything, they are trying to give it to the state.
And this has to do with what we talked about in connection with the trade unions. No
installation on self-defense and self-organization.
Yes, she is very weak.
Interview taken by Alexander Bikbov
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