A trip to the anarchist book fair in CroatiaSubmitted by Andreas Larsen on 29 April, 2012 - 22:37
My friends from Hamburg wrote me that at the end of March, they would be going to the anarchist book fair in Zagreb. There was still space in the car and I decided to offer up my company, and at the same time make a presentation about repressions in Russia. The Swedish “activity money” which I get for studying is only enough to pay for a room and some food. There's not so many jobs in my city so I decided to go to Germany, by hitchhiking through Denmark, and got stuck near Copenhagen. The driver spoke in Danish, and I could only answer in my bad Swedish. The Scandinavian languages are similar, but sometimes there are difficulties in understanding. In the end, she took me the wrong way, and I had to turn back. I spent the night in Copenhagen with friends, students - Marxists from Greece. The next day was more successful, a trucker, who was riding to Bremen, drove me straight to the Hamburg region. Then, I managed to get to the centre of the city by hitchhiking again even though I couldn’t communicate with the driver at all. He was an immigrant from Turkey and spoke to me in German. I used all the German words I knew mixing them with some Swedish and English to explain what I wanted from him. Every time when I feel pessimistic about mutual aid, I try to remind myself how many good people I have met when hitchhiking somewhere.
In the centre of Hamburg I met my friends. Before our trip, we stopped at the factory of the famous Zapatista coffee " Cafe Libertad ", where the workers gave me a tour, told me about the production of the coffee, and even shared with us some of their products and “zines” for the book fair.
In the evening we went to Croatia. The road passed through the Austrian mountains. Among us there was only one person with a driver's license, so a few times we had to take longer breaks. Next year Croatia will enter the EU, so customs is not as strict as at other EU borders. We heard that Croatia is very corrupt. We thought we might get asked to bribe the border guards with a box of chocolates, or something else, but nothing happened. We quickly passed the control and by noon were in the centre of Zagreb at the Art Gallery "Nova" at Nikola Tesla street, where the book fair took place.
Inside the gallery people placed their literature: books, magazines, leaflets, stickers, as well as red and black flags, t-shirts and vegan handmade soap.
Apart from local action groups, there were activists from London, Tartu, Prague, Belgrade and Hamburg.
On the first day there were discussions about the existing projects and the history of anarchist movements. Due to the large crowds in the gallery, many moved to the street.
We arrived there right before lunch The organizers had prepared an excellent vegan food that was available in unlimited quantities for donations.
Afterwards there was a break and we decided to take a walk around the city. Along the way, went to the «Bike kitchen» center, owned by the "Green Line" NGO. There, people can learn how to repair bikes for free.
Later in the evening some local students invited me to a "Balkan" party in the social centre which called "Medica."
"Medica" is an old pharmaceutical factory, which was squatted a few years ago. Now, city authorities handed it over to several groups who live there, organizing concerts and various art exhibitions.
According to tradition, the second day of the fair was held not only indoors but also in the central park of the city. On the same day there was a demonstration in Zagreb, "March 31st - European Day of Actions against Capitalism", which began at Zagreb University, and ended in the park when the fair was coming to the end.
The audience helped move desks and books back to the gallery. After the break, my friend from Hamburg, together with a teacher from Zagreb made a workshop about "Modern technology, anarchism and social movements."
Soon a heated debate started about “Whether it is ok to use social networking sites like "Twitter" and "Facebook" to disseminate information and mobilize people or not?” Many differing opinions were expressed, and everyone wanted to have their say. Unfortunately, there was too little time to reach a consensus.
The same day, an activist from Estonia, made a speech about the initiatives and the recently opened anarchist library "A-Raamatukogu" in Tartu.
Later in the afternoon in the gallery a screening was held of the «Raid On Reykjavik Reloaded» film about two activists of the animal liberation movement, which sank two whaling ships in the port of Reykjavik and destroyed the plant for processing whale meat.
Then we all moved to the office of "Green Action", a feminist performance took place in the courtyard, and then a punk music party started.
On the third day of the event I gave a report on repressions against antifascists and other social activists in Russia. Afterwards there was a discussion about “the way in which Russian citizens react to the behaviour of neo-Nazis and the extreme right-wing”.
After the book fair, in a crowded car, we drove to the south of Croatia, to a coastal city called Zadar, where together with the girl from Tartu, we made one more presentation. The organizer tried to invite as many people as possible. The whole day he put up the posters, and at the same time showed us the city.
Our presentation took place in the "Knigozemska" social centre where located the "Spark" info shop.
In my speech, I mentioned the political police "Department on Anti-Extremism," Alexey "Shkobar" Olesinov, antifascists from Nizhniy Novgorod, the famous "Pussy Riot", have received worldwide recognition for their "punk-a praying," " Virgin Mary, Disavow Putin!" at Christ the Saviour’s Cathedral. And also a new portion of repressions from the Secret Services (“F.S.B.”) against "Autonomous Action” and "Anarchist Black Cross” activist, Finnish citizen Antti Rautiainen who spent 13 years in Moscow but did not have his visa prolongued by Migration Board and had to leave Russia within 15 days.
After several days of "anarchy and tourism," we returned to Zagreb, where we visited a bookstore, "What to read? "("što čitas"). Most of people which came for the book fair had gone, and we had the possibility to talk to the organizers in a calm atmosphere. We also visited a new infoshop "Pippilotta", which is located in the space of the social centre "Medica".
The next day we went to the city Rijeka, where we visited a local NGO "Molecula." The infoshop in Rijeka does not exist anymore, but some people plan to open a new one at the university soon.
Finally, we made some graffiti in the city centre, one of which was in support of our comrade Antti.
P.S. Thanks to all those who made this trip happen, the organizers, the visitors, those who helped with accommodation, showing us their cities, as well as drivers who pick up hitchhikers.
More information about the Book Fair is here:
Photos: A3yo, ask-zagreb.org