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Fighting for decent work is 'extremism'?

9 November, 2009Leaflets issued by IMF affiliate ITUA were included in the 'Federal List of Extremist Materials' in Russia.

RUSSIA: Recent months have seen the intensification of war against 'extremism' in Russia. Vague definitions of the Federal Law 'On measures against extremist activity' allow government authorities to persecute independent organizations, intellectuals and activists, placing justified social demands on the same shelf as expressions of animosity and hatred.

One of the forms of fighting 'extremism' is making lists of forbidden materials. All items in such lists 'share one feature - hatred of people', states the official newspaper 'Rossijskaya Gazeta' ('The Russian Gazette').

One may wonder if there is any 'hatred of people' at all in such ITUA leaflets as 'Against precarious work', 'Bring back night work premium!', 'New union was created'. Why these leaflets were deemed illegal and joined the list of 'Extremist Materials', full of anti-Semitic pamphlets and white supremacist propaganda?

The list is composed by Federal Registration Service. A person distributing or even just keeping materials from the list may face administrative or criminal charges.

'Citizens of Russia should know the sources of extremism, this dangerous threat to stability and welfare of society', claims FRS head Sergey Vasiliev (quoted by 'Rossijskaya Gazeta'). Since when is fighting for decent work a 'threat to stability and welfare of society'?

Declaring justified workers' demands as 'extremist', persecuting independent unions in courts is a blatant violation of basic labor and union rights, which are recognized by Russian labor laws. The IMF stands against labeling independent unions as 'extremist'.