Father Frost against Putin -festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in January

Grusenka

In January, the Father Frost against Putin-festival was organized in Helsinki for the ninth time. The first festival was organized in 2014, but there were no festivals in 2021 and 2022 due to border closures and Covid.

The format of the Father Frost against Putin festival was partially borrowed from the Black Petrograd- festival, which was held in St. Petersburg in 2004-2013. So, in a sense, it marked not only the 10th anniversary, but also the 20th anniversary. If Black Petrograd was an event of anarchists (with periodic speeches from human rights activists and leftists), then Father Frost against Putin unites all opponents of the Putin regime (except for supporters of left and right totalitarianism) fostering open discussions, lectures and the cultural programme for all. 

This year, on Friday January 12th, the festival began with a concert at the Lepakkomies bar in the Kallio neighborhood of Helsinki. Kallio's glorious past as a bastion of the labor movement is now intertwined with subcultures, students and hipsters.

The concert featured alt-rock band Cave Moss, live drum and bass noise Grusenka, and a solo performance by the bass guitarist of the legendary indie rock band 22-Pistepirkko Asko Keränen. After midnight DJ Lupu played a Hi-NRG "proto-techno" 80s set to a full dance floor.

Asko Keränen
Solo performance of Asko Keränen

Unfortunately, Pavel Semchenko's performance was canceled due to the illness. Although the festival failed to attract a well-known headliner, the concert managed to raise enough money to cover the expenses of all the festival's international speakers. This was critically important, since the festival did not have any grants.

On Saturday, January 13, the program began with presentations. The event took place at Oranssi, a social center originating from Helsinki's early 90s squatter movement. The first speaker was a representative of the Movement for Conscious Objectors of the DSO, presenting with the topic “The Movement of Conscious Objectors: from a group of like-minded people to a large human rights organization.” The recording of the report and discussion can be viewed in Russian on , as well as on  - unfortunately, there were not enough resources for two simultaneous recordings. The talk presented a front of anti-war activism, which is getting more relevant every day. It was also of interest to the Finnish public, who were invited to join by the local organization of conscientious objectors Aseistakieltäytyjäliitto, created 50 years ago in 1974. Simultaneously with the performance, we held a zine-making workshop, led by activist and comic artist ennekeli_comix.

The next speaker was Evgenia Chirikova, a well-known eco-activist who was forced to move to Estonia several years ago. Evgenia spoke about the media portal for activists “Activatica” and the current tasks of anti-war activism. The recording of the report and discussion can be viewed in Russian on  and also in .

Next in the program was a discussion about the boycott of Putin’s military machine. The recording was in English. The discussion is available on  and .

Afterwards started the cultural part of the festival programme. First there was a performance “The Legend of the Phoenix. Conversations about light and peace." Natalia Nikulenkova prepared the performance based on correspondence between Igor Paskar and Ivan Atashin. The performance was a public protest against absurd political repressions that lead to the imprisonment of innocent people. He raised human rights issues in political repression in Russia. This is a story about people who are capable of single-handedly resisting and fighting the government that commits crimes against humanity.

The play's main focus is on the similar experience of being imprisoned for a long time for symbolic acts of resistance to the police regime. Both comrades threw a Molotov cocktail at the building of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia, but with a time difference of 13 years. As a result, no one was hurt, but Igor and Ivan faced harsh prison sentenced for “terrorism.”

The Legend of the Phoenix. Conversations about light and peace
The Legend of the Phoenix. Conversations about light and peace

If you wish to host this performance in your city in support of the Solidarity Zone initiative, which provides support to those persecuted for anti-war actions, you can send an .

After the performance started the screening of the documentary film “Moscow Mutiny”. The movie screening was a benefit to the family of Dmitry Petrov, a Russian anarchist who died in the battle near Bakhmut in April 2023. The documentary shows the protests in the winter and spring of 2012 and truthfully captures the spirit of anarchism and anti-fascism in Moscow at that time, showcasing both achievements, missed  opportunities and absurdities. For those who encountered these times, viewing will provoke a strong nostalgic reaction!

The last day of the festivals took place at Ulrika, a shared space between a local anarchist group and various leftist, environmental and cultural societies within the student body of the University of Helsinki. The first discussion was on the topic “The Fifth Wave of Russian Emigration”, where the prospects for emigration and social activities in it were discussed. The recording of the report and discussion can be viewed in Russian on  and и на .

DJ Lupu
DJ Lupu

Afterwards there were both a discussion and a lecture. Unfortunately, we were unable to record the discussion on the topic “The Future of Russia after Putin.” We recorded a report on the topic “Ecofeminism and Vegan Abolitionism: Philosophy and Practice of Understanding and Overcoming Oppression.” The recording can be found on  and .

The radical Finnish animal rights movement has its roots in anarchism. However, over the past 10-15 years, these movements have actually become completely separate, and animal rights movements rarely intersect with other movements. The talk attracted some local activists who would otherwise be unlikely to show up at the festival. Considering that a couple of weeks after the festival, thousands of people participated in the largest commercial vegan fair in Northern Europe in Helsinki, it can be said that the growth of veganism in Finland has not yet been accompanied by the growth of corresponding deep ideological and philosophical discussions. It can be that the festival has simply failed to properly promote itself among the wider vegan public.

The 2024 festival has come to a conclusion. 

So, what are the results? About 60 people participated in the program on Saturday and Sunday, with even more participating in the concert and disco on Friday. This marks a significant increase from 2023,  yet we have not yet reached the attendance levels of 2020.The time before Covid, full-scale war in Ukraine and border closures.  However, despite these challenges, there is a strong demand for the festival, and so the festival will continue in some form, 

Thank you for 2024 and see you all in 2025!

 

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Антти Раутиайнен

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