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Anger in St Petersburg as the 'Big Eight' arrive
MORE THAN $10 billion is being spent on the 'Big Eight' in St Petersburg, including a massive security operation. Guests of Vladimir Putin, president of what is being dubbed the 'energy superpower' of the world, spent two days agreeing policies that won't change one iota the fate of the majority of the world's population who live in poverty and fear.
Elizabeth Clarke, St Petersburg, Russia
But no expense has been spared for the these top people. Just one example, 60 new cars have been bought - electrically driven ones, presumably for driving around the spacious grounds of the palace.
In the region of the Konstantinovsky Palace where the G8 summit was held, groups of police and soldiers stood on the pavements every hundred metres.
Hundreds of activists trying to get to the city for a counter-summit have been blocked - visited in their homes by the police, taken off trains, some arrested and held, some beaten up, some released.
Organisers of the Russian Social Forum being held in the citiy's Kirov Stadium say 800 people have managed to get to the event. As the forum opened, a group of Putin supporters calling themselves the 'General League of Other-globalists' turned up. They started trying to shout their reactionary slogans like, "Russia we're with you!".
The Socialist Resistance (SR) comrades were quick off the mark to get them put back outside the gates. "'State patriots' we call them", explained SR member Sergei, from Moscow. "Some call them fascists. What they mean by 'other globalisation', no-one can work out, but they have no place here. It's a provocation!".
Soon after this, another Putinite rolled up in a limousine - the governor of the city, Valentina Matvienko - followed by journalists and TV crews. She made her way into the stadium, and straight to the table of Socialist Resistance (the first and only stall to be set up for a day before the Forum got fully under way)!
Here she faced a barrage of hostile questions. With stunning hypocrisy, she welcomed the holding of the forum, speaking about how democratic her administration was. The outright repression taking place wasn't her responsibility... Rallies were not being banned in the city, only marches etc.
In fact one of the main events was due to be precisely a march of protest against the G8 finishing at the embankment where the famous battleship, Aurora is moored.
At the Forum, there are many young people and trade unionists, including workers from the biggest car factory in the country at Togliatti. There is of course also the usual layer of anti-globalisationists - from Russia and abroad - for whom the main problem is not global capitalism itself but its 'unfair' and 'inhumane' way of operating.
But the main chant to be heard at the opening ceremony was 'Down with capitalism!' and various socialist groups are present. In the seminars and plenums, there is little dealing with the world situation and important political issues but some very important exchange of experiences on issues like housing and education.
More than 20 members of Socialist Resistance will finally have made it to the stadium to be involved in a lively intervention. A special leaflet has been widely distributed and already great interest has been shown in the stall, and the paper, Left Vanguard, has been selling fast. So too has a new pamphlet called Why Socialism. A meeting under the same title heard from the author, Ivan Ovsiannikov, and other members of the CWI - from Poland, Ireland and Britain.
In The Socialist 20 July 2006:
War and occupation
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party campaigns
International socialist news and analysis
Scottish Socialist Party
Campaign for a New Workers Party