Statement by the Russian section of the I.W.A. in connection with the introduction of a house arrest regime in Moscow and several other regions of Russia

The authorities finally threw off the democratic mask. By order of the authorities of Moscow and dozens of other regions, residents, under the pretext of an epidemic of coronavirus, are forbidden to leave the apartments in which they live. This means the actual establishment of a totalitarian regime. In Moscow alone, one and a half tens of millions of inhabitants of Europe’s largest metropolis were under house arrest, like de facto prisoners.

Those unfortunate or daredevils who cannot endure multi-day imprisonment in the four walls of their small cells will be severely punished: from giant fines to imprisonment. Some cities have already introduced special permits for leaving home; in Moscow, a similar "innovation" is being discussed. Methods of total surveillance and control are being introduced, which make us recall the darkest pages of Orwell and dystopian cyberpunk.

The system of public health care in Russia, as in many other countries, was virtually destroyed or greatly weakened by politicians, proteges of the rich, during the “optimizations” of recent decades. It is with this that problems have arisen almost throughout the world with the treatment of not only hundreds of thousands, but even hundreds of seriously ill people. It is precisely with this situation that the mass panic around the epidemic is associated with which the media and the ruling circles of various countries have demonstrated. They are trying to solve these problems with short-term emergency measures (temporary reprofiling of existing hospitals and sanatoriums, temporary increase in doctors' salaries, temporary investment in health care), without changing the overall socio-economic course pursued in the interests of the largest capitalists and senior officials.

Today in Russia, the population has been punished by house arrest, job loss and the deprivation of the ability to live normally for not adequately resisting the neoliberal “optimization” of the medical sphere: reducing beds, squeezing professionals out of healthcare, eliminating emergency substations, selling research institutes, transferring to insurance option for the sale of medical services instead of providing assistance, the destruction of the medical examination system and professional examinations, etc.

The totalitarian measures of the authorities become a heavy blow to the socio-economic situation of the working population. The shutdown of many enterprises, firms and services deprives hundreds of thousands of workers of their livelihoods. In some places they are promised material compensation, but its size is not enough for a decent life. Owners of many firms refuse to continue to pay salaries for downtime. The most vulnerable parts of the working people are in a particularly difficult situation – those who work “informally”, without contracts and in the “shadow” sector of the economy: they won’t get anything at all! Those who, on the contrary, are forced to continue to work (in transport, in healthcare, in shops, etc.) are often deprived of basic means of protection against infection.

The authorities completely transferred the material burdens of the crisis situation to the shoulders of the working people. The ruling oligarchy still does not want to force the rich to pay. Instead, she continues to levy new taxes on the small savings of people that they could save for years.

In these difficult days, the Russian section of the International Workers Association expresses strong protest against the totalitarian actions of the authorities and full solidarity with all working people. We are aware that under conditions of a general house arrest regime, the possibility of massive and open resistance is small. But each person who is forced to sit at home today or continues to work, better than others can realize his abilities and evaluate the potential of his actions.

Of course, an epidemic is an epidemic, even if its danger is hysterically exaggerated, and it is necessary to observe elementary norms of individual hygiene. But all the more reason to demand from the authorities and bosses enhanced measures to ensure proper labor safety for those who continue to work today: they must be provided with all protective equipment at the expense of bosses or the state, regular sanitary treatment must be carried out, etc. We urge labor collectives to put forward these demands and resolutely pursue them, up to organizing strikes where work is still ongoing.

Those who are forced to remain unemployed (temporarily or permanently) should continue to be paid salaries. This demand must be put at the forefront! If the company or institution where people worked turns out to be ruined, this money should be paid by the state, since it made people stop working. It may well take them from the multi-rich and billionaires!

Acceptable opportunities for people to make shop in stores and to walk that enhance their immunity should be sought. For those who have actually been put under house arrest by the authorities, new forms of protest and resistance are unrelated to actions in the workplace, for example, a housing and utility payments strike, similar to a tenants ’strike organized by Spanish anarcho-syndicalists on April 1!

And of course, mutual assistance “from below” remains the most important thing in conditions of forced social isolation and attempts by the authorities to break our social ties: assistance in buying products for those who are not able to leave home, support for sick and quarantined people, solidarity with each other.

We urge workers not to lose touch with each other, not to succumb to social exclusion imposed on us and to organize themselves - first in social networks, and then - at the place of residence and, when the opportunity arises, at workplaces in order to assert their human and labor rights and interests.

Our rights are not subject to quarantine!

Do not cry - organize!