Sketches from Sochi: How Russian authorities vulgarize World Festival of Youth and Students

A series of reports from Sochi, Russia, by organizers and participants of the XIX World Festival of Youth and Students. 
October 15, 2017

Darya Mitina (United Communist Party-OKP, Russian Communist Youth League-RKSM), member of the Festival organizing committee:

The first people we saw when we left the train in Adler were young, wretched Italian communists, who, in torrential downpour, were waving red flags with the inscription Partido Communista and singing Bella Chao. Immediately the police went to them and demanded they stop singing, but the Italians pretended that they did not understand, when strange people in uniform want to talk to them, and they continued to sing, clap and chant. The police looked at each other in disgust.


Today all the sites of the Festival began to function. The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) site is the largest and the most central one, it is represented by exhibitions in honor of the 100th anniversary of October, the festival movement, the Soviet cosmonaut, the symbols of the Festival — Ernesto Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and Mohammed Abdelaziz. Our “red sector” attracts the most attention, most people hang out here, audiences and discussion sites are crammed. In the auditorium where they discussed the 100th anniversary of October, they labored with difficulty. Many Russians came to the seminar on Fidel Castro, for Latin Americans. Delegates from North Korea have established a spontaneous forum of solidarity with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. …

And then the opening, alas, left a discouraging impression. This is always the case when the implementers ignore the organizers, do not want to consult, do not understand, do not care what they are doing, or why. The stiffness, the enforced lack of competence and the dazzling lack of talent of Igory Krutogo, who organized the show, brought sad stumbles — a lack of understanding of the realities led to a whole series of shameless occurrences: in the opening of the festival, the South Korean flag was displayed twice, instead of the North Korean flag, and the North Korean delegation took this as a colossal insult; twice the flag of Israel was shown and never Palestine; time was occupied by the ineffable howls of Dima Bilan and other singers…

Delegation of the United Communist Party from St. Petersburg:

A small delegation of the St. Petersburg branch of the OKP is present at the World Festival of Youth and Students in Sochi. Here are the impressions of the comrades about the first two days of their stay. 
Yesterday was the day of settlement. Organizational dislocations are so numerous that they give the impression of a specially organized chaos in which it is convenient to fish. This morning we got acquainted with the main sites, and in the evening we attended the opening ceremony.

The impression is that within the framework of one festival there are two, absolutely not rhyming with one another. One festival is the one held by the World Federation of Democratic Youth. The discussion on its platforms center on Che, Fidel, the October Revolution, the struggle against imperialism, national oppression and for social justice. The other festival is the one held by Russian officials, corporations and the young people selected by them. At this festival they play ping-pong, they build empty, useless stands with shiny pictures and a “presentation about the Russian regions,” hang around and listen to capitalists who talk about the technology of successful entrepreneurship and career growth. These two festivals belong to different worlds.

The same schizophrenia marked the opening ceremony. The head of the WFDY spoke about anti-imperialist solidarity and the Russian Revolution, the centenary of which we are celebrating. The rest of the ceremony is the presentation of Russia as a country of opportunity + an artistic and musical composition that can solve the problems of ecology, poverty, energy hunger, health services, school education in countries of general poverty by talented young “social entrepreneurs” or people inspired by humanitarian considerations. And without any revolutions and loud phrases. The presentation seemed quite primitive in thought, drama, and direction. 


Alexander Batov, (Revolutionary Communist Youth League-RKSMb, Rot Front), member of the Festival organizing committee:

We’re going to the media center. The situation past midnight:

1) Hundreds of delegates from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, also from Africa and Latin America, have still not received accreditation, i.e. accommodation, food, access to the festival.

2) A plane with the Western Sahara delegation circled over the Sochi airport and turned back to Algiers. The Russian side refused to accept it, citing the lack of housing.

3) Milan Petković, an activist of the SKOJ (Komsomol of Serbia), was detained at the Sochi airport without explanation. The FSB [Russian Security Service] officers forced him to write a “voluntary refusal” of his visit to the Russian Federation, after which they put him on a return plane to Belgrade.

This is the “anti-imperialist” festival.

In terms of logistics, chaos continues. Yesterday, in the Gorky Gorod hotel, all reservations were cancelled from October 14 and later dates. The Directorate is talking about the problems with the influx of delegates and promises to resolve things. There are dozens or hundreds of people have been excluded, including our comrades.

Transport is missing or something strange is going on. The shuttles are passing by. There were timid attempts by Russian delegates to block the road.

In an hour we have to start the seminars #wfys2017. But who’s going to be admitted is unclear.

The photos are from the accreditation center yesterday. A Russian delegate with a monarchist flag is seen in one of them.


Yesterday was very tense, I was constantly going the between the media center and the accreditation center. Disputing with officials, resolving housing issues, negotiating with foreign comrades, communicating with journalists… a lot of things that were too stupid to write about.

Half of the delegation of RKSM(b) is still not accredited, including me. But maybe the situation will change today. So let’s start with the good one. The “legal” part of the RKSM(b) delegation successfully went to the #wfys2017 space and started active work. At the first seminar on the 100th anniversary of October, our comrade spoke very well, explaining to the audience the nature of capitalism in Russia and the essence of the “official left,” problems of the revolution. They then rushed to a seminar on anti-imperialist, anti-war struggle but didn’t make it in time, it was over quickly. I was supposed to speak, but that didn’t happen [because Batov was not accredited].

In general, each of the comrades worked for two. This work will continue today. Welcome to the RKSM (b)!

Translated by Greg Butterfield 

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