The Russian inhabitants' movement was created during the Russian Social Forum

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[Image] The second Russian Social Forum took place from Jul 13-16 2006 as part of a Counter-summit against G8 in Saint-Petersburg?.

Despite the severity of reprisals (around 300 people preventatively arrested in their local regions or on their way to Saint-Petersburg?, around 200 people arrested in Saint-Petersburg) and the disproportionate police response, the participants of the Counter-summit proved that a resistance movement does exist, and that Russia is very much a police state.

Around 1500 participants signed up for the Russian Social Forum (RSF). 500 people participated in the protest, organized by the Russian Communist Party; hundreds took part in events organized by the "anti G8 network". Although modest, these Counter-summit stats are significant.

The Counter-summit and of course the Russian Social Forum reveal the movement's dynamic and its desire to unite and act, in spite of its relative weakness. What emerges is a political alternative. July 14th, the first day of the RSF, was a perfect example of this. The discussions and seminars touched upon all the questions in the program: energy security, educational reform, the nature of alterglobalism, the campaign for the right to housing, the war in Tchetchenia, culture. Most of the seminars ended with the adoption of a resolution, and a campaign plan. In some cases, the discussions led to the creation of new movements (Russian temporary housing movement, Movement for housing, etc.).

Highlights of the section dedicated to housing problems.

Soviets Coordination Union (SKS) activists put in place two coordination structures that are of great importance to the campaign for the right to housing. The section of the Forum dedicated to temporary housing problems ended in the creation of the Russian temporary housing inhabitants movement. At the moment this movement consists of representatives from 11 towns (Moscow, Ijevsk, Perm, Iaroslavl, Kirov, Tcherepovtsa, Khanti-Mansijsk?, etc.). Over the next few months, other regional coalitions are expected to join.

As for the section dedicated to housing problems in general, activists agreed to fight back by building a transversal network using the SKS – the Russian inhabitants' movement. This movement intends to coordinate the actions of residents and neighbours committees, self-governement of citizen-led housing organizations, and groups that fight against unauthorized constructions, rising utility charges, and evictions. It was also officially decided to collaborate with the International Alliance of Inhabitants, whose coordinator, Cesare Ottolini, was present at the first day of the Forum. Finally, the activists created a commission that will coordinate future campaigns. Oleg Shein, who is a member of the State Duma and known for his stance against official housing policies, agreed to be part of this commission.

As for the future, the inhabitants temporary housing movement is planning a protest to take place throughout Russia in the month of September. The Russian inhabitants' movement is planning a day of unitary actions in mid-October, in coordination with the campaign and the World Days against evictions, led by the IAI. Further details of these meetings will be made available at the interregional meetings at the beginning of September.

Summary by Carine Clément, Institute of Collective Action, part of SKS' "working group".