On February 14, an action of solidarity with women political prisonerswas announced at the Old Arbat in Moscow. Women were invited to participate in the first place. More than 300 activists took part in the long chain behind the long white ribbon, which stretched in both directions from the monument to Goncharova and Pushkin. Despite the significant frost, the action lasted more than 2 hours. Among the participants were anarchists. The police were present at Arbat, but they chose not to approach the place of the action. There were no arrests that many expected.
A notable feature of this action, in addition to the focus primarily on women, was that the initiative to hold it did not come from the Headquarters of Navalny, but from feminist activists. The participants of the chain of solidarity held flowers, hearts with the names of women political prisoners, whom they came to support, black hearts (under the symbols of which the action in defense of the political prisoner Anastasia Shevchenko was already held). Activists from time to time chanted: “Freedom to political prisoners!”, “Freedom to the sisters-political prisoners!”, “Love is stronger than fear!”, “Russia will be free!” Men were also present at the rally, but stayed a little away from the chain – their appearance behind a white ribbon for some reason caused a stir among numerous journalists.
Provocateurs present at the rally made a noticeable revival. “Traditional” at protest events pro-Kremlin SERB and NOD as always tried to “get” the participants with their stupid antics. The NODs even put on NATO helmets, armed themselves with inflatable automatics and tried to hand out “dollars”. Several anti-feminist men, who claimed that “our girls are very naive and receptive to this nonsense”, handed out roses to the participants of the action. It is not clear what the sexists wanted to achieve with such a demarche, but the flowers were a pre-announced attribute of the Solidarity Chain.
Much less innocuous was the sexist provocation of the “leader” of the so-called “Male State” Vladislav Pozdnyakov. On his TELEGRAM channel, he posted the personal data of one of the initiators of the Solidarity Chain Daria Serenko and the address of her relatives – their house had to be taken under protection.
The people who really supported the action handed out hot coffee and tea and candy to the participants (although the candy was also handed out by one of the sexist provocateurs).
Photos from the Women’s Solidarity Chain in Moscow
A similar Chain of Women’s Solidarity was held on February 14 in St. Petersburg, several dozen activists took part in it, and there were no arrests there. Even in the suburbs of Sakharov, where detainees detained at rallies on January 23 and 31 are being held under administrative detention, women staged an impromptu Chain of Solidarity – brought to the windows of their cells painted hearts – and this action also took place without excesses. Apparently, the authorities and “law enforcement” agencies focused all their attention on the “prevention” of flash mob with flashlights, stated by the headquarters of the Navalny on the evening of February 14, and simply did not notice or ignore the initiatives of feminist activists.
Although the Women’s Solidarity Chain was supported by a number of anarchists, there were a few moments with which they disagreed. For example, the fact that the action was dedicated not only to women political prisoners, but also to Yulia Navalny, who at the moment is not only a political prisoner, but even an independent political figure. The very appeal to “Valentine’s Day” and the romantic halo around it is also controversial in terms of the deconstruction of patriarchal elements in culture, which includes the established social construct of romance. Not all feminists and anarchists liked this message of the action. Although it should be noted that the topic of lovers, separated by a prison bars, causes some sympathy in society. The slogan of the flash mob with flashlights was also “Love is stronger than fear!”.
Nevertheless, the Chain of Women’s Solidarity took place in the wake of mass protests against the authoritarian regime and for the release of political prisoners and drew attention to women political prisoners and the feminist agenda.