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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Local Anti-Globalists Recount Trip to Genoa

Usually, President Vladimir Putin and his staff would be the sum of Russia's input at a G-7 summit, but last month's meeting in Genoa had a few dozen more contributors than usual.

Thirty-nine demonstrators from Russia and other former Soviet republics joined the hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world in the Italian town to protest globalization.

Having returned unharmed from the turbulent streets of Genoa, the protesters held news conferences in St. Petersburg earlier this week and Moscow on Thursday.

The protesters, a mixture of union workers and members of a far-left communist party, were able to travel to Genoa thanks to financial support from the French anti-globalism organization ATTAC. Not that their journey was luxurious: They survived mainly on food they bought in Ukraine and slept sometimes outdoors on benches.

But the protesters, who came from Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, found an affinity with the hundreds of thousands they found in Genoa.

"We went there to show that Russia will not stand aside from this problem and to develop ties with the representatives of the international movement," said Yevgeny Kozlov, head of the Regional Communist Party, or RKP, in St. Petersburg.

The demonstrators were protesting against Russia's proposed Labor Code, attempts to join the WTO and other reforms — especially with regard to education, health and housing. At the end of the summit, the protesters signed a letter protesting the "politics against the people" of Putin's government.

The protesters said that while driving through Europe they noticed how much private land was chained off.

"We don't want there to be chains like that in Russia," said trade union leader Alexander Nikolayev.

"There are no courtyards — the places where we have grown up, run around, got married," said Nikolayev, speaking about the center of Genoa. "They have walls everywhere."

Protesters from St. Petersburg blamed the violence at the summit — which left one man dead — on anarchists.

Trade unionist Yury Vinkov, speaking in Moscow, defended some of the violence, saying it was of a class character and had only targeted places such as banks, ATM machines and luxury cars.

"With cars, it was mainly Mercedes," Vinkov said.

He said that he had joked with one of the protesters in his group, "How many Mercedes did you burn today?" only to get the response of "two."

"He wasn't joking," Vinkov said.

In case of arrest, all of the protesters, none of whom spoke Italian, had the name of a lawyer provided by the organizers written on their arms. Although many were tear-gased, and one of the organizers, Vinkov, said he was still feeling some of the effects, none of the protesters was arrested. The biggest problem came when a passport got lost.

The outing to Genoa has left the protesters rejuvenated and ready for more action. Plans are afoot to stage a similar demonstration in the Urals in the upcoming months.

Asked whether the Russian police would be easier to face than those in Italy, Nikolayev was sure the Russians would treat protesters better.

"They're also workers," he said.

Irina Titova contributed to this report from St. Petersburg