A couple of days ago, former antifascist prisoner from Belarus Dmitriy Zvanko with a mob attacked anarchist squat Sirena in the center of Warsaw. The gang used bottles, peper spray, bricks and other things to throw out residents of the occupied building.
Zvanko was arrested in 2013 and spend 3 years in belarusian prison for a fight with right-wing hooligans. After release, he moved to Poland and soon was allowed to live at Sirena squat. Former prisoner and antifascist was welcomed for really long in the place despite his horrible attitude towards anarchist squatters. Many activists moved out of the place because of his behavior and constant conflicts, but this year the situation escalated when Dmitriy tried to take over part of the social space of the squat for his personal needs. The first wave ended up with Zvanko calling his friends from leftovers of belarusian antifa scene in Warsaw, who after some small fights retreated.
Squat’s collective for several months tried to find a solution to the conflict, organizing multiple meetings to talk the problems through. Those meetings were normally ignored by Dmitriy and his friends.
With no success group behind, Sirena decided to ask belarusian antifa to leave within a week. He laughed in the response and continued to live in the house as if nothing happened. 14 days later, collective came to him and kicked him out of the house.
Instead of accepting the collective decision and actually finding a place where he was not in the permanent conflict with neighbors, Zvanko once again went to his friends. They gather a mob of 30-40 people, who in the evening attacked Sirena. After some resistance, anarchists had to flee from the squat that was captured by self-proclaimed antifascists.
Currently, the place is still captured by the mob. The collective of Sirena published a statement in which they condemn raiders and call for solidarity. Many collectives from Warsaw as well as some organized anarchists from Belarus living in Polish capital also published their statements.
The antifa gang released their own text in which they absurdly try to use the status of Zvanko as a political refugee who is facing racism from anarchist squatters. At the same time there is a lot of manipulation going on, including attempts to make Dmitriy a leader of the local organized belarusian anarchists and antifascists.
As the people are trying to abuse the status of political migrant in their attempt to exercise violence against anti-authoritarian activists, it is important to mention that Zvanko is currently not facing any prosecution in Belarus, nor he was involved in any belarusian anarchist or antifascist collectives since his migration to Warsaw. He is not a leader of belarusian diaspora in Warsaw, in fact he didn’t participate in any attempts of anarchists or antifascists to work within belarusian diaspora.
I’ve given quite a bunch of presentation on repressions in Belarus back in 2014-2015, during which I was actually mentioning Zvanko and calling for solidarity with him. But right now there can be no solidarity with such a person. In this situation, his past doesn’t matter. This action pose danger not only to the people living in Sirena, but for the whole movement that is attacked from one side by the violent extreme right in Poland, but on the other side by some “gopniks” from Belarus, who don’t care about social justice or equality and are there exploiting political movements in their own goals.
The situation in Sirena is not a single case of violence within the antifascist movement. In fact, it is part of a long row of events. People like Zvanko continue to use our principles of not cooperating with the police – they perfectly know that in case of conflict we are not going to call the state to our assistance.
With that perspective, we expose ourselves to violence from different directions. As anarchists, it is becoming clear again and again that defense of our communities is an obligation that lies on the shoulders of each member of the community. The question of violence is hard and uncomfortable for many, but there is no way we can escape it. We have to be able to defend ourselves in case of such situation like the one that happened with Zvanko, and not only defend but prevent them from happening by manifesting our common stand against such people in the movement. There is no neutral position in such situations.
I would like to voice solidarity with the people of Sirena, who stood up to the abusive behavior taking in account all risks and threats. The struggle goes on!