I get terribly annoyed and disillusioned when activists from Russia, who have nothing to do with FAS, talk about our big movement as a "leftist" movement or as a movement that has some kind of committee of chief activists. To me that's not the case and it doesn't work that way. We activists and FAS activists exist in Russia, hold actions, take risks with ourselves and consider ourselves FAS activists by choice. We are anonymous and we post our actions anonymously. We are not subordinate to anyone. For those who want to, the FAS has access to decision making, but we have our own separate chat rooms and micro cells, and we are also present in many cities in Russia. I remember that a map was published, I think we are in more than 60 cities?
We have no idea how many of us there are: I meet FAS activists in other Russian cities when I travel and socialise. It's a pity, of course, that due to the dictatorship, we all can't be in the same chat room and have to operate in code. And that verification is a long and rather intimidating process.
Those activists who left under pressure and have shown their faces perform the service function of public spokespeople, talking about our common cause in order to make it known outside of Russia, and personally I'm grateful that they take on this function of spokespeople as well. Personally, I was interviewed anonymously on behalf of FAS three times, but even from three I got tired of it and started passing it on as a job to my other associates. Talking to some of the other coordinators, I noticed that nobody wants to give interviews at all: it's an extra burden. I never saw any competition for attention. The word of media activists doesn't weigh more than that of non-media activists (and in the chats everyone is under pseudonyms anyway).
Of course, like every movement, we have problems: they are mainly caused by the fact that we cannot have a completely transparent structure and communication because of security rules. And also horizontality is a challenge, because not everyone is prepared to take on tasks and talk. But that's okay. In our anonymous calls I prefer to keep silent, but I like to write.
When someone talks about FAS as a movement of outcasts, that someone is committing an entirely non-horizontal act: you exclude us because we can't answer for you on our own behalf. We cannot prove to you that we exist. But our actions are there, you can see them by tagging #your_actions, for example, our stories and voices are published (you can see them by tagging #votes_of_russians_ok or #activists_write), we have our own spaces for voting and calling. But not the most convenient ones, of course, because we have to inhabit Element [?]
We've participated in drafting the general manifesto, we've edited the text of the petition, we have active discussions. The exiles are part of our network, but they do things that we can't: they help refugees in other countries and raise money for Ukrainian organizations, search for resources, keep access, run free courses (recently there was a course on cybersecurity from Teplica), do advocacy, talk about political prisoners, help with evacuation.
I would like to ask other activists to stop devaluing our work and the work of movements in general. I've had two arrests, I've been involved in the movement for 7 months, I've held 7 street anti-war actions, I've distributed propaganda and been among those who have been taken to a torture detention centre. And I have a child. Nobody controls me, nobody forces me. If I go to jail, it is only my responsibility (and Putin's, of course), because I am an adult and I know the risks. I am my own movement and determine my degree of involvement. I am a loner by nature and like solitary activism more than group activism. But FAS, by the way, has taught me to work more collectively.
Peace, goodness and resistance to all. Don't speak for others, speak to others! Help build anti-war resistance!