Police Arrest Anti-Xenophobia Activists
Published: March 31, 2009 (Issue # 1461)
The 15-day Xenophobii.NET (No to Xenophobia) Campaign ended in arrests, when viewers leaving a film screening at Rodina film theater in the center of St. Petersburg were dispersed by the police on Sunday. But while the Russian media, from RTR television to Fontanka.ru news portal, reported a mass fight between Antifa activists and neo-Nazis, both the police and detained film-goers deny any fight took place.
“There was no fight, it was prevented,” police spokesman Vyacheslav Stepchenko said by phone on Monday.
“It seems to be a provocation; the Antifa activists and neo-Nazis never came into contact,” an anti-Nazi activist who only gave his first name, Denis, said by phone on Monday.
“We tried to walk to the metro in an organized way so as not to be attacked by neo-Nazis, when on Karavannaya Ulitsa we were jumped from behind by policemen with batons. They started to throw us to the ground and drag us into their vehicles.”
While the French documentary “Antifa — Chasseurs de skins” (Antifa: Skin Hunters), the final screening of the “Open Your Eyes! International Film Event Against Racism and Xenophobia” and the last event of the anti-xenophobia campaign, was being shown, a group of neo-Nazis reportedly attempted to attack the packed film theater, which drew more than 500 viewers.
The attempt failed when the police arrived and detained several attackers, according to Yevgeny Konovalov, chairman of the Russian Social-Democratic Union of Youth and one of the campaign’s organizers.
“Around 30 beefy young men looking like boneheads (Nazi skinheads) attempted to storm Rodina film theater with sticks and stones, but they were scared off by the policemen,” Konovalov said by phone on Monday.
“Having seen the police, [the attackers] retreated immediately to Nevsky Prospekt, but the police had time to detain three men. When I came out to see what was happening, I saw two handcuffed men being put into a police vehicle.”
According to Konovalov, Antifa scouts later reported that a large group of neo-Nazis had gathered on Nevsky.
“In my view, it’s very strange,” he said.
“On the one hand, thanks to the police for preventing a nationalist attack, but on the other hand, it’s not clear how they allowed them to come in a large group to the film theater, and then to gather in a large group, 40 or 50 men, on Nevsky Prospekt waiting to attack the people returning from the film theater.”Pages:  [2 ]