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Pirates Against Poverty: Russians Find Their Own Way To Protest Inequality

Though the global momentum of the “Occupy” and “Indignados” movement has not hit Russia, a group of self-styled anarchists in St. Petersburg are trying to undermine the establishment in other ways.

Onlookers cheer the protesting
Onlookers cheer the protesting
Vladislav Litovchenko
ST. PETERBURG – The "Occupy Wall Street" movement of mass rallies that has spread around the world has mostly missed Russia. Still, a group of Russian Indignados are finding their own way to protest against injustice and inequalities.

Unknown perpetrators raised a pirate flag on an administrative building in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. This followed a similar symbolic assault on Sunday, when a Jolly Roger was raised on a mast of the Aurora, a historic cruiser long associated with the Russian Revolution that has been converted into a museum, and is moored on St. Petersburg's Neva River.

Responsibility for the Aurora pirate flag was claimed by two activist groups, "The People's Share," and "Food, Not Bombs." Organizers dubbed the "boat invasion" "Remember October, or Aurora Sunday," and was meant as a protest against poverty. The name makes reference to the fact that October 17 is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

The group of eight arrived at the Aurora on Sunday evening, and split into two groups. The first group, who were headed for the first mast, was stopped by museum employees. But the second group of three people managed to scale the second mast of the boat and hang the Jolly Roger flag, as well as a cloth emblazoned with slogans. In spite of rain and a cold wind, the "occupiers' stayed up on the mast for five hours, talking to the crowd down below and outlining demands. When they finally came down, shivering from the frigid conditions, they were immediately taken to the police station.

No group, political or otherwise, has yet claimed responsibility for the pirate's flag on the administrative building. The flag, adorned with a skull and crossbones, fluttered above the office building for around three hours before being taken down by authorities.

Those behind the "takeover" of the Aurora presented themselves immediately, after the prank had been organized on the organization's website. "The People's Share" outfit identifies itself as anarchist. They did not consider the "pirate attack" a simple prank, but rather a practical beginning of "political post-modernism."

So far, eight participants in the demonstration on the cruiser have been sentenced to administrative arrest or have been fined.

Read the original article in Russian

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Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Noel, a Cuban engineer who had to emigrate to the faraway island of Saint Lucia, tells about the Cuban government's systematic intimidation techniques and coercion of its professionals abroad. He now knows he can never go back to his native island — lest he should never be allowed to leave Cuba again.

Forced Labor, Forced Exile: The Cuban Professionals Sent Abroad To Work, Never To Return

Next stop, Saint Lucia

Laura Rique Valero

Daniela* was just one year old when she last played with her father. In a video her mother recorded, the two can be seen lying on the floor, making each other laugh.

Three years have passed since then. Daniela's sister, Dunia*, was born — but she has never met her father in person, only connecting through video calls. Indeed, between 2019 and 2023, the family changed more than the two little girls could understand.

"Dad, are you here yet? I'm crazy excited to talk to you."

"Dad, I want you to call today and I'm going to send you a kiss."

"Dad, I want you to come for a long time. I want you to call me; call me, dad."

Three voice messages which Daniela has left her father, one after the other, on WhatsApp this Saturday. His image appears on the phone screen, and the two both light up.

The girls can’t explain what their father looks like in real life: how tall or short or thin he is, how he smells or how his voice sounds — the real one, not what comes out of the speaker. Their version of their dad is limited to a rectangular, digital image. There is nothing else, only distance, and problems that their mother may never share with them.

In 2020, Noel*, the girls' father, was offered a two-to-three-year employment contract on a volcanic island in the Caribbean, some 2,000 kilometers from Cuba. The family needed the money. What came next was never in the plans.

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