German antimilitarists under surveillence following actions opposing Russia invasion of Ukraine

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A model made of bin bags is propped against a lampost. In the background is a large ornate building and trees.
A "body bag" model is placed outside the Russian embassy in Berlin. Photo credit: Antimilitaristische Aktion Berlin

The German antimilitarist group Antimilitaristische Aktion Berlin (Antimilitarist Action Berlin) have found evidence that Berlin’s domestic intelligence agency (“Verfassungsschutz Berlin”) is monitoring their activities. Two imaginative and striking protest actions against Gazprom and the Russian Embassy, organized by Antimilitarist Action Berlin (amab) in 2022 were included in a report by the agency in June 2022. “We joked that the Russian secret services would certainly take interest in our actions,” says Jan Hansen, spokesperson for Antimilitarist Action Berlin (amab): “But it’s a scandal that the Berlin secret service is watching us because of protests against the Russian war of aggression and its profiteers!”

Antimilitarist Action Berlin (amab) is a group of young people who are committed to opposing war and rearmament. “That’s why it was natural for us to raise our voices against the Russian war of aggression right from the start.” Just a few days after the invasion, Antimilitarist Action Berlin protested in front of Gazprom’s headquarters in Berlin. There, the group symbolically sawed a gas pipeline in half and demanded the immediate closure of the gas pipeline Nord Stream 1.

Antimilitarist Action Berlin also protested at the Russian embassy in Berlin, placing black trash bags around the embassy to resemble body bags labeled with “Z-200”. The group’s statement explained: “The Russian government is waging a murderous and criminal war of aggression in Ukraine. We call on the employees of the Russian embassy to do everything in their power to make their government stop the war and withdraw their army from Ukraine.”

Surveillence

These actions were identified by the Verfassungsschutz Berlin's annual report in 2022. Under the section "left-wing extremism" the report noted “There were isolated protest actions in front of, and damage to, property at Russian facilities and companies. The corporate headquarters of ‘Gazprom’ were repeatedly attacked in February. In October, there were two incidents of damage to property (placement of alleged body bags and throwing of paint bags) in front of, or at, the Embassy of the Russian Federation.”

On their blog, Antimilitarist Action Berlin said that the consequences of being referred to in the secret service’s report were indirect and hard-to-predict. Being noted in the report is akin to an enemy declaration. It signals to other state authorities that they do not have to exercise any restraint when dealing with the groups in question, since they are almost “terrorists”. Additionally, banks can cancel an affected person’s accounts, other countries can refuse them entry, and it can affect chances of employment. Furthermore, the secret services try to drain the affected groups of support from civil society. “After all, who wants to be the next organization under observation of the secret service?” states Jan Hansen.

This article is based on the original article posted by Antimilitaristische Aktion Berlin. You can find the post here.

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