In memory of Dima Petrov
An incomplete biography and article written by him
On April 19, 2023, in the battle near Bakhmut, three anarchists were killed: an American named Cooper Andrews, an Irishman named Finbar Cafferty, and a Russian known to us as Dmitry Petrov, who went by the alias Ilya Leshiy. All three of these comrades had been engaged in shared activities within our communities and networks for many years.
You can read about Cooper’s motivations in his own words and explore the eulogies from his comrades. You can learn how Finbar was involved in activism throughout his life, read an interview with him, and listen to a song he performed. In this eulogy, we get to know the life of Dmitry Petrov, also known by the pseudonyms Ilya Leshiy and Phil Kuznetsov. To familiarize yourself, you should start by reading statements from his comrades in the Anarchist-Communist Combat Organization, the Resistance Committee, and Solidarity Collectives, as well as Dmitry’s farewell letter. All these texts are available here.
A few weeks before the war started, Dimitri participated in an interview that we included in our coverage of the emerging situation. On the first day of the Russian invasion, in the midst of a rather difficult situation, Dimitri took the time to talk to us about how anarchists were reacting. As we communicated and worked together over the next year, we were impressed by his modesty, the seriousness with which he approached his activities, and his genuine willingness to criticize “1.
When Dmitri died, his comrades revealed that he had been involved in some of the most significant anarchist initiatives in 21st century Russia, including the creation of the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization. In this text, we will present an overview of his activities as a fragment of the last two decades of struggle in the post-Soviet world, concluding with the text Mission of Anarchism in the Modern World, written by Dmitry.
No one in our collective believes that state militarism will help us arrive at the peace we want to live in. We internally disagree on the question of anarchist participation in military resistance to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Some of us believe that service in a state military formation cannot contribute to the anarchist cause. Others believe that such a decision can only be understood in light of the brutal autocracy prevailing in Russia, where dedicated anarchists like Dmitri have tried almost every other approach. If we reject state militarism, the question remains as to how else to respond to imperialist invasions, and we will be better equipped to address this question if we understand the life trajectory of Russian anarchists like Dmitri. A discussion of the complexities of formulating an anarchist anti-war strategy that does not cede the battlefield to state militarism can begin here.
Life in combat
According to one of our contacts in the Russian anarchist movement, Dmitry has been an active participant in anarchist activities in Moscow since he was a teenager back in 2004. He became known among other comrades as an Ecologist because of his environmental activism, organizing against the construction of incinerators and defending Bittsevsky Park in Moscow. He was also involved in Food Instead of Bombs, the anarchist trade union MPST (“Interprofessional Union of Workers”) and a number of other initiatives.
As Dimitri became increasingly active in the anarchist movement, the fascists and police increased their level of violence against him. They began maiming and killing activists, female journalists, and even their lawyers; Fyodor “Fedya” Filatov, Ilya Borodayenko, Timur Kacharava, and Anna Politkovskaya are just some of the many victims. In January 2009, lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist and anarchist eco-activist Anastasia Baburova were murdered in the center of Moscow. Back in the summer of 2008, Dmitry had fought alongside Anastasia Baburova in defense of Georgian refugees from Abkhazia who were staying in Yasny Proyezd in Moscow.
The following month, Dmitry took part in an underground action claimed by the group called “People’s Retribution”. According to one account, this was a landmark event in Russia:
As is known, in Moscow the first anti-mental arson attack of a new generation of anarchist rebels was committed on the night of February 19-20, 2009. The next day, a video clip was published online on behalf of the militant group “People’s Retribution” showing unknown people throwing Molotov cocktails at police cars. “People’s Retribution” announced the destruction of two cars and called on “every self-respecting person … to stand up against the arbitrariness and despotism of the police, special services and bureaucracy”.
Dimitri then took part in the creation of an anonymous platform to cover such underground actions, the Black Blog, which began in May 2010. When the anonymous editors announced the termination of the Black Blog in March 2019, they mentioned the burning of police cars on February 19, 2009: “More than 10 years have passed since the day we threw our first Molotov cocktail at the police.”
One of the hotbeds of conflict in the Moscow region at the time was the Khimki Forest, which anarchists and environmental activists were defending against corrupt officials and, loggers and fascists working for them. On July 28, 2010, the struggle for Khimki reached its peak when hundreds of anarchists and anti-fascists demonstrated against the city administration in response to an attack by fascists. We don’t know what exactly Dmitri’s involvement in these events was. The anonymous report we received from Russian anarchists seems to be a case of familiar hands; but in an interview, an anonymous representative of the Black Blog denied that they participated in the attack on the administration.
During the following months, the authorities detained and tortured more than 500 anarchists and anti-fascists. Some were forced to flee the country. Nevertheless, this was not enough to suppress the strong movement at the time. According to the above description,
“The period 2009-2012 was the peak of anarchist resistance in the history of the post-Soviet BUR. Almost every day, especially in the Moscow region, something was happening day and night.””
By the summer of 2012, there had been over a hundred arson attacks on police stations and cars, military commissions, vehicles of government officials, and construction equipment designed to destroy forests. Black Blog reported on many of these actions, including some claimed by individual groups in which Dimitri was reportedly involved, such as Anti-Nashist Action (as opposed to the pro-Putin youth group Nashi) and “ZaNurgaliev” (a likely ironic reference to then-Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev, a former KGB and FSB officer).
For example, on June 7, 2011, a homemade device exploded near a traffic police checkpoint at the 22nd kilometer of the Moscow Ring Road. The Anarchist Herilla group claimed responsibility, publishing a video of the explosion on the Black Blog. According to a statement by the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists, Dmitry participated in this action.
In a subsequent interview, the pseudonymous participants in the arson attack on the DSS post described the action in detail. Here is an excerpt:
DENIS: We’re coming down from the crossing over the Moscow Ring Road. It’s almost light already. There’s already a pensioner walking his dog. I must say, from our experience of night outings, this category of citizens is one of the first to appear on the city streets in the morning. They say that in old age people sleep very little. Even though our faces are covered, I’m still worried – as a witness, I might remember something. Of course, it is complete madness – to return to the bomb that did not work, and even in the light, in full view of the whole neighborhood. But so much effort has been expended, it’s impossible to leave with nothing.
We’re approaching the post. Everything is the same as we left it: a basin with coal and a cylinder stands between the fence and the booth. Alexei comes to the edge of the concrete ditch, lights a phosphorus match and throws it into the basin. Nothing happens. Has the gasoline burned out? Discouraged, we slowly walk back to the bridge. “Listen, did you definitely see the match falling into the basin?” – I ask Alexei. “Yeah, I think so.” – “But you can’t say for sure?” – “No, I’m not sure.”
One last try. We go back, I climb over the ditch, close to the fence, light a match, throw it directly into the basin and… a bluish flame spreads over the coal. It worked! Now we are already running, my heart is pounding – what if the explosion catches us in a prominent place? But the joy of success drowns out the anxiety.
Boris: It was starting to get light. I noticed a strange movement behind the booth. I looked closer and realized that it was the glow of fire on the trees. It’s burning!
But suddenly a car drove quickly into the parking lot, illuminating the booth with its headlights. A policeman ran out of the car, took out a fire extinguisher and started to put out the flames. To no avail. On the contrary, it seemed that it flared up more and more. The policeman ran into the post and came out with a new, large fire extinguisher. Again he failed. He went in from the right – but the flames were getting worse. Apparently, deciding not to risk it, the policeman returned to the post. Meanwhile, the flames rose above the booth – but there was no explosion. The tape ran out for the second time, so I turned it on again. Police cars began to arrive at the post.
And then there was an explosion.
There was a flash of light, bright orange flames shooting up fifteen meters. We continued filming. Cars began to leave the checkpoint, and then our comrades and the scout returned. Alexei nervously shouted: “Why are you sitting there? They’re coming after us!”
In the end, the story concludes with an admonition typical of Dmitri’s later publications:
You cannot seize power and impose anarchy on people from above. You cannot make a revolution for them and force them to live in a new society. Anarchist ideals will win only when people realize their power and responsibility for their own and other people’s lives. Therefore, the main thing is to restore people’s faith in their own strength.
The same social tensions expressed in these underground actions eventually culminated in mass street events. Across Russia, hundreds of thousands of people took part in the 2011-2012 opposition movement. On May 6, 2012, the March of Millions ended in clashes with police on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. Again, according to a statement from the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists, Dmitry Petrov participated in the events at Bolotnaya Square along with anarchist Alexei Polikhovich and others who were subsequently imprisoned for attempting to protect demonstrators from riot police.
This was perhaps the high-water mark of political opportunity in Russia. In the years that followed, Putin’s government was able to establish a stranglehold on the country, systematically destroying or assimilating all forms of opposition. When we interviewed the Anarcho-Communist Militant Organization last August, they traced the beginning of the process that eventually led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine back to the defeat of that movement:
Perhaps, theoretically, the political crisis of 2011-2012 could have ended Putin’s rule if all opposition forces had acted more united and radicalized. The anarchists tried to radicalize the protest, but our forces were not enough, and the authorities decided to launch the first serious repressions.
After the clashes on Bolotnaya Square, Dmitry continued to participate in both underground actions and public activities. As representatives of the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists claimed in the above-mentioned interview,
“We know of examples where individual comrades have managed to balance between publicity and underground for quite a long time and be quite active in both.”
In 2013, a protest movement against Ukraine’s pro-Putin government erupted, culminating in the Ukrainian Revolution of February 2014. Although nationalists displaced anarchists and other anti-authoritarian activists and figured prominently in these events, this outcome was not a foregone conclusion; things might have turned out differently had the anarchists been more numerous and better prepared. The 2018-2019 Yellow Vests movement in France is an example of a social movement in which nationalists initially had the upper hand, but anarchists and anti-fascists managed to outnumber them.
While the outcome of the Ukrainian uprising was still in doubt, Dmitry Petrov traveled to Kiev to take part in the struggle on Maidan, the central square of the Ukrainian capital. According to Vladimir Platonenko,
In February 2014, Ecologist [Dmytro] spent about ten days on the Maidan, having come to Ukraine especially for this purpose. He took part in setting up Ukrdom, delivering food to the positions, and even in the battle on February 18. But at the same time, he constantly tried to develop an anarchist component in the general popular, complex and heterogeneous protest movement of Maidan. He participated in the attempt to create the “Left Hundred”, created an “anarchist shelf” (with anarchist literature) in the library of Ukrdom, told Maidan participants about the protests in Moscow and the reasons for the defeat of the protesters. He did not swim with the current; he participated in the creation of the current to the best of his ability. This applied not only to what was happening in Ukraine. Both in environmental protests and actions, and in the fight against dot-com development, he tried to go beyond the private issue, to turn the fight against one of the manifestations of the system into a fight against the system itself. The Russian-Ukrainian war was no exception.
The situation in Ukraine has never been simple. In the latest Black Blog post, dated February 2015, the collective describes a debate among themselves over whether the arson attacks in Ukraine reported through their platform represented genuine anti-state activity or pro-Putin authoritarian activity. Rather than presenting a simplified or distorted narrative, the authors summarized both viewpoints so that readers_women could draw their own conclusions – but this became the last Black Blog post. This discussion preceded subsequent debates about how the anarchist movement should position itself in the war between the Russian and Ukrainian governments.
In the years following his participation in the Ukrainian uprising, Dmitriy maintained a blog describing his travels to natural and historical sites, including parks, forests, and museums throughout Russia. He holds a PhD in history and did anthropological research as a researcher at the Center for Civilization and Regional Studies at the Institute of African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Initially inspired by an article written by David Graeber, Dmitry traveled to Rojava when the war against the Islamic State was in full swing. He spent six months there. Afterwards, in 2017, he spoke about his experiences in this interview and participated in the research project Hevale: Revolution in Kurdistan, which has published several books.
He later wrote articles for the Ukrainian left-wing website Commons on the implications of COVID-19 in Rojava and the conflict between confederalist and imperialist models in Kurdistan.
According to the Ukrainian anti-fascists, “he studied the revolutionary experience of the Kurds in depth, and although he was critical, he respected it and sincerely tried to pass on its most valuable lessons.” By his own account, Dmytro sought “not only to educate the Russian left about the social revolution in Kurdistan, but also to share an anti-authoritarian worldview with the Kurds themselves. “
In 2018, Dmitry left Russia. By then, Putin’s regime had quelled the violent fascist movement of the previous decade and had moved on to suppress all other social movements. It had become standard practice for the FSB to round up suspected anarchists and anti-fascists and torture them with electroshock and other horrific methods to force them to sign false confessions to participating in invented “terrorist networks.”
As Dmitri later told the news site Doxa,
I avoided leaving the country as much as I could, but I left when I learned about the interest of the security services in my humble person.
He chose Ukraine as his destination, considering its government the least successfully authoritarian of the post-Soviet countries. In an interview with Doxa, he described his activities upon his arrival there:
In Ukraine we had initiatives among anarcho-emigrants from Russia and Belarus, a kind of diaspora. And so there was a lot of different things: from a film club and discussions to street actions. But the main thing was networking and trying to form systematic structures.
As we have already noted, finding ways to support the agenda and activities of refugee_walkers as wars, state repression, environmental disasters and economic crises forced millions of people to flee their homelands. However, at the same time that he was settling in Ukraine, Dimitri must have continued to conduct common business with anarchist_women in Russia from afar. In the same year, 2018, the Fighter-Anarchist Telegram channel appeared.
In 2019, the editors of Black Blog announced the end of the project. Four years have passed since the last post appeared. They emphasized that they remain convinced of the value of the strategy they chose in 2009:
We have sown our seeds and are already seeing the sprouts. Our enemies – the oppressors and their henchmen from the “power structures” – have not been able to prevent us, no matter how hard they tried.
We are not indulging our egos. Everything we do is not for personal ambition, but to advance the struggle for freedom and justice. We are convinced that we have succeeded. And now, 10 years later, we still reach out to you, we still believe in the libertarian cause.
On June 10, 2020, at the height of the George Floyd rebellion in the United States and in response to police violence in Ukraine, anarchists set fire to the Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry in Kiev, sending a communiqué that appeared on the BOAC website. This should remove any remaining doubts about whether Dmytro was seeking to make peace with the Ukrainian authorities.
That summer, when the uprising began in Belarus, Dmitri crossed the border illegally to take part. According to Belarusian anarchists,
During his stay in Minsk, he took part in dozens of marches, helped organize an anarchist bloc at demonstrations, and even managed to throw noise grenades at the cops. At night, when many Belarusians were resting, Leshy [Dzmitry] and other comrades went out into the streets of Minsk and destroyed surveillance cameras, which played an important role in the infrastructure of repression. Dima also had a hand in the Promnya project – in the fall of 2020 he prepared several materials for our site. If you have ever marched in Minsk alongside a column of anarchists, there is a good chance that you have marched side by side with this incredible man.
The uprising in Belarus was eventually suppressed; many of the anarchists who took part in it are still in prison today, highlighting the significant risk of insurgency in the post-Soviet space. In September 2020, a post appeared on the BOAC blog: a communiqué from an underground guerrilla action in Belarus.
Considering this trajectory, we can interpret Dimitri’s journey from the Black Blog through the events of 2012, 2014 and 2020 to the Combat Organization of Anarcho-Communists as a continuous development of a unified strategy. By combining public activity and underground organizing, he sought to create a model suited to the volatile and dangerous conditions of the post-Soviet countries, a model that could serve both to seize moments of opportunity and to survive periods of severe repression. As state violence and surveillance intensify, activists in other parts of the world may find that they need something similar.
Even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Dmytro, together with Ukrainian and Belarussian anarchists, was trying to put together an openly anarchist and anti-authoritarian military formation. One of the functions of such a formation was to ensure that its members would not have to fight alongside fascists, who were indeed present in the Ukrainian armed forces. In addition, Dmytro saw participation in the defense of Ukraine as an opportunity to gain respect for anarchist ideas in the eyes of the general public in Ukraine, as well as to continue his longstanding struggle against the Putin regime.
During the first phase of the Russian invasion, Dmytro and his comrades_ participated in the territorial defense of the region around Kiev, as an independent unit within the territorial defense forces. Their “anti-authoritarian platoon” was then drowned in military bureaucracy, jeopardizing the status of non-Ukrainian participants and preventing the entire unit from taking part in combat operations.
In July 2022, Dmytro wrote a dissection of the first four months of the “anti-authoritarian platoon’s” existence, discussing its internal structure and assessing its successes and failures. This is an important historical document for those interested in the extent to which the military model developed in Rojava can be replicated in other contexts. It will be useful to anyone who wishes to discuss anarchisto_c participation in the military, whether they seek to promote or condemn it.
Dmitry and everyone else in the platoon were eager to get to the front. Eventually, the platoon was disbanded and they managed to go to the front in another unit. The last time we heard from him, he told us that he was going to leave the unit in hopes of once again trying to create a purely anti-authoritarian unit.
We will leave it to others to debate whether Dimitri’s insistence on creating an anarchist military unit is a worthy continuation of his life’s anarchist project, a misguided departure from it, an error stemming from some pre-existing flaw in it, or a valiant attempt to deal with an almost intractable situation. Those who want to hear his own thoughts on the subject can choose from a range of interviews. It should not be forgotten that in addition to the struggle in Ukraine, he continued to support sabotage and other forms of subversion in Russia through the Anarcho-Communist Combat Organization, and continued to stress the importance of autonomy, horizontality, and direct action for anarchist struggle.
The sincerity of his aspirations, in any case, is beyond question.
In an interview published in December 2017, Dmitry said: “In general, almost everything that is created by man is the fruit of the labor of countless people.” In the same vein, we do not seek to make Dimitri a role model. Rather, the point is that his life gives us a glimpse into the fates of many Russian anarchists, illuminating their courage and the difficulties they faced.
Above all, Dmitri’s life story is a testament to how much is possible even under the most unfavorable conditions. In the midst of a harsh dictatorship, facing mounting difficulties, he continually found ways to continue organizing and fighting for the future he was fighting for.
Everything written in this article is not intended to glorify death in battle. In the 21st century, life is becoming increasingly cheap – witness how Wagner’s group deliberately used prisoners as cannon fodder. Anarchist_women should not be in a particular hurry to risk their lives – there will soon be plenty of chances to die for a variety of purposes, or none at all. Rather than seeking to prove our commitment by death, let us express our devotion to freedom in how we live each moment of our lives.
But as authoritarianism rears its head around the world and war spreads from Syria to Ukraine, from Ukraine to Sudan, we too may have to answer the questions that Dmitri faced when Russia invaded the country he fled to. If we want to be prepared for this situation – especially if we want to offer other answers to these questions – we need to analyze what happened in Russia. There may still be time for things to work out differently in other parts of the world, if we act decisively, courageously and persistently enough. But time is running out.
When an anarchist dies, those of us who are left alive must put the experience of that comrade at the disposal of future generations. We cannot know for sure what opinions and conclusions will be most needed by those who come after us. In an effort to do our part, we have translated the following article by Dimitri, published on June 17, 2020 on the Fighter Anarchist Telegram Channel, in which he outlines what he saw as “The Mission of Anarchism in the Modern World.”
The mission of anarchism in the modern world
It is not a new idea that today’s great projects for reorganizing the world are in decline. In the twentieth century, powerful driving movements mobilized millions of people to storm political Olympuses and “great construction projects. But over the course of the last century, one by one they became ethically and practically bankrupt and soon faded away. Fascism and Leninist-type communism come to mind first. Even the seemingly triumphant liberal project, in fact, simply dissolved into the global capitalist system and the world political game, in which here and there are not liberal mechanisms.
Of the ambitious ideocrats daring to reshape the world in accordance with their beliefs, perhaps only the voice of the jihadists can be heard today. However, Islamism is obviously not a big project that a person of an anarchist worldview can reconcile with.
The failure of global plans at the end of the twentieth century gave rise to a deep pessimism and paralysis of the idea of transformation. However, the first decades of the new century clearly showed that the “end of history” is canceled. Growing instability, insubordination and ungovernability manifested themselves. The number of anti-government demonstrations under various slogans and flags increased by several orders of magnitude compared to the previous era.
At the same time, there is an urgent need for radical change on the broadest possible territorial scale. As before, we need a new world. Almost everything that exists in society is unacceptable and cannot serve as a framework for the present and the future.
But what will the transformed reality be like? There are unpleasant prophecies of a “marvelous new world” entirely ruled by the elites of posthumanity, or, on the contrary, of a new feudalism and a great schism accompanied by a surge of brutal brutality. The prospect of a global ecological catastrophe also neighbors these pictures. But in parallel with the various glooms, another trend is becoming more and more evident. It is the desire for direct democracy, equal collectivity, the eradication of inequality and oppression, and the search for harmonious coexistence with nature. This trend is still as if “spilled” over many social currents and is not formalized into a single stream. Nevertheless, it calls back to life the relevance of anarchism.
At a time when all other missionaries have shown themselves to be deceivers or maniacs, it is time for anarchists to remember their mission and to reassert their global project. How can we outline its possible common features?
Dismantle the Megamachine
Modern mass society is crowded into gigantic urban agglomerations. The lion’s share of human life is controlled and directed by the laws of states, as well as by capitalist relations of production, exchange and consumption. As a result, modern man finds himself in the situation of an object manipulated by giant machine-like forces. At the same time, we are immersed in a constant bustle. The modern world is a dream of reason and deep feelings, substituted by momentary, externally controlled desires. This state is repugnant to human nature, causes dissatisfaction, followed by a thirst for something else.
But the monstrous heavy hulks of states arouse fear and doubt in us: is it even possible to free ourselves from their iron heel? The endless buying and selling that permeates our daily life with a million threads exacerbates our dependence and, even worse, corrupts and corrupts us from within.
And yet the very course of life pushes man to revolt. And the accumulated historical experience teaches us that even the most seemingly all-powerful social systems collapse like a house of cards, sometimes quite unexpectedly. These are the starting points of our struggle against the prevailing order. To crush and dismantle the Megamachine is the ambitious task of the anarchist movement.
A new communality
Today we see a progressive atomization and weakening of collective ties. Neighbors get to know each other less and less, and sometimes avoid each other altogether. Noisy family celebrations are becoming more and more rare and forced.
The reasons for this painful social phenomenon are complex and it is not easy to single out the main ones. These include the growing sphere of individual entertainment, the general trend towards individual comfort, which is always threatened by “excessive” closeness of communication, and the notorious egoism, which is organic to market capitalist society and turns any relationship into a temporary interaction between two consumers for mutual benefit. The word “partner”, which has distinctly alienated notes in the Russian language and acts as a kind of antonym to such concepts as beloved, friend, comrade…, is becoming more and more popular.
We consider the crisis of collectivity, of being together as one of the most catastrophic consequences of capitalism and statehood. In addition to the moralizing of a purely ethical nature, the anarchist revolution also has a concrete institutional tool for creating what we can call a “new communality.” These are popular assemblies, assemblies, collective self-governments and subjects of the economy. When the pincer of the System, which has run its suckers deep into the social fabric and separates us from each other, is ripped away from the body of society, we will be faced with the IMPOSSIBILITY of recreating our warm horizontal ties and joining in solidarity.
The collective creation of public life will be a stark contrast to contemporary social practices. Just look at the current initiative of the Russian authorities to organize voting by mail – now even the simulation of choice will probably not gather this crowd of strangers to each other at the ballot boxes.
Yes, we plan to get together to make decisions, to cook food in crowded and noisy kitchens instead of receiving it in sterile delivery bags, to introduce our children to their peers on the street instead of just sitting them down to watch a cartoon alone… The degradation of humanity that is rapidly unfolding before our eyes can and must be stopped.
The management of people for personal enrichment, the perception of all living and non-living things in the world as resources for profit, the pathological luxury of a tiny minority and the destitution of the vast majority – these are just a few touches, the most vivid illustrations that characterize the modern economic model. Its essence is diametrically opposed to what we consider right and just. The whole pile of reasons to reject capitalism can be reduced to two main theses: 1) this economic system is unethical, unjust, degrading; 2) it fails to provide a decent material standard for all.
Commodity-money relations, wage labor, investments, bank loans and interest – are so deeply embedded in our everyday life that it sometimes seems unrealistic to get rid of them. It is as if without this set of things there would be immediate famine and decay.
But we have something to counter the “trend”: human labor resources (today many thousands of people waste their labor time because of the phenomenon of bullshit jobs); workers’ work experience, which will allow them to maintain the economy without bosses; technologies that allow society to regulate the system of production and distribution according to its needs and values… This should be enough to transfer the economy from the hands of the elite into the hands of society, to ensure equal management of human production”To each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.”
The mission of the anarchist movement is to establish in society, by word, deed, and example, an understanding of the principles of economic justice and, by overthrowing the state and capitalists, to “clear the space” – to provide the socio-political conditions for its realization.
Modern society is full of discrimination on various grounds. There are many characteristics and features by which a person or group can be disadvantaged. The reasons for this are age-old or new prejudices, the principle of collective responsibility, and the alienation of people from each other in a world permeated by capitalist relations.
Prejudice and collective responsibility are skillfully manipulated by unscrupulous politicians, while alienation is a “side effect” of the current system.
One of the oldest and most painful types of discrimination in human existence is gender oppression. Despite the fact that in Eastern Europe as well as in the “Western World” the situation has changed considerably in comparison with the openly patriarchal past – women are still oppressed. This is evidenced by data on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence and the difference in average incomes. Practices and behaviors that belittle women remain in force. A prime example: the attitude “Politics is not a woman’s business”. There are many such invisible stones of the current culture that prevent women from revealing their human potential in our social reality.
And one more detail that is not often paid attention to, although it is one of the most important. Relationships between all people in general are heavily poisoned by gender stereotypes and the mutual consumerism and selfishness based on them. Because of this, even the most seemingly close bonds bring pain and unhappiness to people, not the other way around. The capitalist and authoritarian worldview prevents true intimacy from being born.
The mission of anarchism is to achieve genuine sisterhood/brotherhood between people over any group characteristics. To do this we have different tools:
1) a collaborative practice of community building and governance that requires equal cooperation and mutual warmth among all participants in the process;
2) a revolutionary political culture that requires the conscious active involvement of representatives of all oppressed groups in collaborative social work;
3) finally, education and enlightenment, which helps to put prejudices behind us.
Thus, the ambition of the anarchist project is, by eliminating discrimination, to heal interpersonal relations and, however vulnerable this may sound, to bring love of neighbor back into our lives. Capitalism and Authoritarianism, as social phenomena, stand as an obstacle in this path. This obstacle is not insurmountable.
Resolution of national conflicts
Since time immemorial, human society has been shaken and terrorized by violent clashes based on ethnic or national cultural differences. In addition to them, other criteria were added: religious, racial. Interethnic and interethnic conflicts reached a special intensity in the era of nation-states, which are still the main form of political organization of mankind. With their emergence, the question of which nation is “titular” in a particular state began to be raised with extreme urgency. What land “rightfully belongs” to this or that national group? The result was the countless sufferings of millions of innocent people: forced assimilation, mass deportations and, finally, brutal acts of mass murder. After all that, national conflicts continue to flare up vividly in all parts of the world.
Hardly any other imaginary contradictions in the history of humankind have had such horrendous consequences as inter-ethnic “contradictions”. National conflicts are often based on the interests of national political and economic elites, state bureaucracies, as well as the most ignorant prejudices and distorted perceptions of their neighbors – “others”, representatives of other national groups.
At the root of the idea of national conflict is the question “Us or Them?” Anarchism offers an alternative: “Both we and they – together and on equal footing”. Denying the nation-state, which is nothing but an instrument of oppression and injustice, anarchists open the way to confederation: the equal cooperation of peoples in all territories. The same land can be Serbian or Albanian; Armenian or Azerbaijani… the list is endless. Equality and self-government, the social pillars of anarchism, are prerequisites for a fruitful and benevolent dialog of cultures. The need for this dialog has not weakened, but, on the contrary, has intensified in the XXI century.
Re-harmonization with nature
The fact that capitalism and the ever-expanding human economy and consumption have an extremely destructive effect on nature has long been a well-known platitude. As well as the understanding that such a vector of development threatens the planet and mankind with destruction.
We would like to take a deeper look at the problem. The anthropocentric worldview prevailing today and the way of life conditioned by it is a particular case of hierarchical attitude to the world and existence as a whole. Nature is “man’s workshop”… This view is neither natural, ethical nor acceptable. The true liberation of humanity cannot take place without overcoming alienation from nature and finding harmony with it.
What ecological measures can anarchism propose? Modern technology should be redirected from profit maximization to the conservation and restoration of nature, combined with the provision of decent material living conditions for all. Ideally, the extensive expansion of man’s destructive influence on nature should be completely overcome. The knowledge and capabilities accumulated by mankind make it possible to accomplish this task, or at least to move close to it.
The reorganization of the living space, the extinction of the monstrous megalopolis as a form of human dwelling is extremely important. The settlement should be commensurate with the human being, no matter how subjective it may sound. The lifeless anthropogenic landscape, which cuts people off from natural complexes, must give way to the harmonious inclusion of the settlement in the natural landscape, the intertwining of natural and human.
Here and now.
The total unacceptability of the current (un)existence… and the outlines of a renewed world stir our minds and hearts like a prophetic reverie. These are the points of mobilization that keep us from giving up and resigning. That is why we are ready to make efforts, risks, sacrifices to create a new society. Organized revolutionary struggle is the way we will reach the goal outlined in this text. Victory is possible, which means we must win.
Phil Kuznetsov [Dmitry Petrov].
Appendix II: “Dima Ecologist’s Guerrilla Journey.”
On May 8, 2023, after we published this article in memory of Dima, a new piece appeared on the BOAC telegram channel. We have fully translated it into English, because it brings additional and very valuable context, especially to Dimitri’s youth.
Dima was first brought to the guerrilla path by his public activities – the fight against condensed housing development. In the process, he repeatedly encountered the fact that the tenants kept trying to take the easy way out of legalism (there were always plenty of people willing to get involved) – by writing complaints to the administration, which were sent directly to the trash garbage cans. And they are not very willing to respond to calls to block construction equipment and block roads – as a result of which the police repeatedly raked up activists while the construction was going on.
Hence the natural impulse to stop the construction physically. Destroy the construction equipment. Destroy the construction materials. Damage lighting wiring and construction fencing. And, most importantly, to do it in such a way as to stay free and continue to help people.
That’s where the partisan path began.
The very first, if we’re not mistaken, was an attack on a compacting development on the site of a radioactive burial ground in the south of Moscow (we returned here several times afterwards for repeated actions).
Compared to the subsequent ones, this was a rather light action – there were inscriptions on the fence with agitation against the construction site, a shield with the description of the object was fired from a rocket launcher, and the film of the fence enclosing the construction site was set on fire.
But the morning pleased with photos of the foam of fire extinguishers, which had to extinguish the fence – it was lying around like snow that suddenly fell in the warm season.
This was just the beginning.
At first we were inexperienced, some recipes were suggested by other comrades, some – we found on the Internet ourselves and tested on various compacted buildings.
And Dima was always trying to expand our struggle – to attract new people, to expand our methods and tactics.
The turning point was the murder of our comrades Nastia and Stas by neo-Nazis in the center of Moscow, which we felt acutely not just as neo-Nazi aggression, but as a direct attack from the state, which was nurturing and supporting our enemies.
Since then, we have decided to move on to more serious targets.
The first of these attacks was an attack on the parking lot of police cars near the OVO building in the south of Moscow.
To be more precise, we planned to attack the building – I remember how we went with Dima to reconnoiter and it seemed like it was just around the corner. But when in the end we climbed onto the garages (from which we threw the KM) – it turned out that it was not so easy to get to the building. We took responsibility for this action as a group “People’s Retribution”.
At that moment Dima gave birth to the idea to hold different types of actions on behalf of different groups. For example, against the police – on behalf of People’s Retribution (and the group “ForNurgaliyev!”). – At that time, his statement that people have the right to fight back if police officers violate the law became a meme – and the phrase “Nurgaliyev authorized it!” spread among the people). Against pro-government movements – like “Anti-Nashist Action” and so on. [Nashi was a pro-state, pro-Putin youth organization, somewhat reminiscent of the Hitler Youth.] And to suggest that other groups hold actions under the same names – to confuse the enemy.
And there were a lot of actions. Now, looking back, you can’t understand how we had time for everything. Literally, sometimes there were 1-2 weeks between actions – we held an action, went on a reconnaissance trip, told our comrades, went to the next one.
On the dates when conscription began, we attacked military enlistment offices. In response to the persecution of [Soviet dissident] Podrabinek [who was persecuted by Nashi in 2009], we visited Nashi. For the elections, we attacked YedRa offices and administration buildings. And we burned the police without counting – on March 8 (attack on the Interior Ministry reception center in Moscow), and after the detention of our comrades in other cities, etc. In response to the lawlessness of traffic policemen, we burned their facilities.
And all this under a new group name each time, covering it through new platforms and blogs.
However, it was gradually realized that spreading information on behalf of a new group each time takes too much effort. And other groups – prefer to conduct actions under their own name, without using ours. Therefore, as the next step, the concept of the Black Blog was born. Not an organization – but an aggregator of actions carried out by all anarchist guerrilla groups – including ours. But, gradually, the Black Blog began to be perceived as the name of the group (and sometimes the subtitle of the site – “Anarchist Gerylla News” – was used as such, and in honor of it we began to be called the group “Anarchist Gerylla”).
By the way, the website address (as well as the name in English) was deliberately chosen as blackblocg.info – both a reference to the Black Bloc and a reference to the fact that we have a blog chronicling the guerrilla struggle (the .info domain was chosen for the same reason)
Only some of the most vivid episodes come to mind. The arson attack on the reception room of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Moscow region – in response to Yevsyukov’s shooting of people in a supermarket.
How when police cars are set on fire near Ostankino, the flames run beautifully down the car, and at that moment a loudspeaker in the parking lot starts yelling “Fire! Fire!” (later, we made a beautiful video of the Electric Guerrillas R.A.F. song for this attack).
How after the burning of police cars near the police department on Chechulin (the attack where we first used an IED from a kisa with ammonal – and Dima played the main role, pouring the mixture and then throwing the grenade sitting on the fence – and the explosion threw him right on the ground) – a man who introduced himself as a police officer from this very department wrote to us in the guestbook and complained that Lieutenant Colonel Telelyuev was a very good chief there – and now he’s in trouble because of us. And how Dima immediately composed a song in response:
“It’s cold dark in the charred office….
Lieutenant Colonel Telelyuev is writing us a letter.”
As in honor of all partisan anarchists, Vadim Kurylev released the song “I am a Black Blog Fighter” [See below after the text.]
And, of course, the bombing of a traffic police post on the Moscow Ring Road – organized as a protest against the numerous violations of the law by officers of this very agency.
We have told about this action in detail in the past. Let’s just say that Dima was one of the comrades who returned to the inoperative driver’s license, risking his life and freedom to finish what he had started, despite the malfunctions.
The actions continued even after the post was undermined – for example, with the arson of the IAB parking lot in Troitsk, attacks on the United Russia Party, and environmental actions – the arson of felling equipment in Khimki and the construction of elite cottage settlements near Yakhroma.
And there is hardly any doubt about it – but there was practically not a single action in which Dima did not take an active part.
However, a situation gradually developed where, on the one hand, we no longer had any objects left to attack (such as we could do at a high level of security and with a small group in operation) – and on the other hand, we realized that the hope for scattered actions of affinity groups, which were about to lead to the Revolution, did not seem to be justified.
And it was time to rethink our own experience and the experience of other successful revolutionary groups, not only anarchist groups. At Dima’s suggestion, we organized a discussion club – where we studied the works of [anarchist] Kropotkin and [authoritarian communist Vladimir] Lenin, works on the psychology of the masses, the works of [French syndicalist revolutionary Georges] Sorel on Myth and its role in revolution, analyzed the revolutions of the Arab Spring and [“non-violent” democrat] Gene Sharp.
And this work led us eventually to what Dima deservedly calls our brainchild. The creation of the Anarcho-Communist Militant Organization.
It was, of course, a long work – and this story is just beginning. But we can’t help noting that Dima was a participant of all the processes of creating BOAC. And theoretical work. And practical training. And the organization of training and combat actions. But his main merit – and this, we think, will not surprise anyone who was acquainted with him – is the establishment of ties with other people. With comrades at home and abroad. Finding new people to organize – and organizing field camps in the Moscow region for foreign comrades. He was always open to new people. Always believed in the best in them – was wrong more than once, but kept believing and searching.
Among other things, this work took him to Kurdistan, where he participated both in teaching the principles of the organization of a liberated society and in combat training.
And here is another important detail about his character. Dima stayed there for a long few months, communicating with his family and us very irregularly and only by e-mail.
But when the time came to return – practically when he was on his way home, a few days before his flight – the information came that the FSB was very seriously interested in him.
And in this situation – having missed his family and home, having a scientific activity waiting for him in Russia – he decided not to return home, but to go to Ukraine. He did so, among other things, because he realized that if he returned and was arrested, not only himself, but also other people could be at risk. His life’s work. That’s why he chose the path of a professional revolutionary – who denied his personal good for the sake of the common cause, for the sake of the ideas he believed in.
And since then – Dima has been moving our common cause, developing our organization – being abroad. And no distance has minimized his contribution and help in this.