Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Demonstrations and riots: War for the sake of peace

Traumatic weapons, water cannons, poison gas, microwave weapons, and sound weapons are part of the ever-expanding arsenal of the police around the world. Even peaceful demonstrations are violently dispersed. The Western countries seem to have no more democracy and human rights than the "axis of evil." How rallies are dispersed In Russia?

The practice of violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations is a widespread and old phenomenon. Obviously, commissioned police officers clad in armor and armed with batons are a picture not only of Russian reality. The tradition of rallies dispersal in recent history originated in the 1960s. Then, in European countries and the United States numerous anti-capitalist and left-wing anarchist organizations emerged. The formation of this movement was influenced by different factors, and included struggle for the liberation of the colonies held under the slogan of anti-imperialism, growth of the socialist bloc, the crisis of the capitalist system, and the protests against the Vietnam War (USA). These and other factors have led to the emergence of protest activity in Western countries that often developed into violent confrontation. Among those were Yippie, anti-globalists, and the Black Panthers in the U.S., as well as many other organizations. The resistance movement of the left and anarchist youth seized the two continents separated by the Atlantic Ocean, and caused a tough response from the authorities. Mass demonstrations were dispersed by police in a very rough manner. Back then the capitalist system has proven to the world that it was not a cradle of democracy and freedom, and only the most naive people believe in it. Half a century later nothing has changed.

The dispersal of the protest movement Occupy Wall Street was violent. The police used rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas. This was a clear example that the U.S. government institution was not willing to negotiate with its own citizens who dared to encroach upon the foundations of the capitalist system. The protesters in this case clearly did not plan a coup and demanded only one thing - a greater equality in the financial sphere.

The Americans are not the only ones vigilantly guarding their interests. Unjustified brutality is regularly exhibited by the police of the majority of the countries that consider themselves civilized. Somehow all democratic norms are put on the back burner when the governments of these countries are faced with a direct expression of the will of the people.

In Spain, a deep economic crisis has generated a widespread discontent among the population. Regular street demonstrations have become commonplace, but the police disperse these demonstrations time and again. For example, during a July rally where people demanded the resignation of the prime minister suspected of corruption at least 13 people were injured by the police who beat them with batons and used rubber bullets.

Unfortunately, rubber bullets in reality are not that harmless and can cause injuries that may lead to death.

In the UK, the police also used very dangerous means of suppression. Rubber bullets were used repeatedly in this country, for example, during the acceleration of student protests in 2011, as well as on many other occasions.

The Israeli police are infamous for their cruelty. For example, Israel has developed special sonic weapons that create a strong sound wave. These weapons will replace tear gas and rubber bullets in the future. If a person is located closer than ten meters from the gun they may die, not to mention a lifelong deafness.

The German government is also not particularly soft with regards to manifestations of civic consciousness. For example, on June 1st of this year a peaceful rally was brutally dispersed in Frankfurt despite the fact that this was an authorized demonstration against EU banks. The rally gathered 7,000 people. Likely they were not planning to smash and seize administrative agencies. The protesters included old people, women and even disabled, but they all were attacked by the police that used gas and batons. Over 100 people were injured, many arrested.

In Greece, the poorest EU country, the population also frequently goes to rallies. But this activity is fraught with very unpleasant consequences. For example, a journalist Manolis Kypreos is now completely deaf because the police threw a supersonic bomb at him. Greek police have repeatedly used tear gas and rubber bullets.

Regardless of their status as a democracy, the "axis of evil" or enlightened Europe, the governments are still unable to resist the use of violence against their opponents, even peaceful ones.
What are police currently using to disperse rallies?
1. Traumatic guns with cartridges with rubber or plastic bullets.
2. Water cannons are the most popular tools used by police. They are usually harmless, but can be very dangerous when used in cold temperatures.
3. Tear gas, pepper gas, "stinky" gas, and psychotropic poisons.
4. Sonic weapons, such as a "shooting megaphone," a device emitting a pulse with a frequency of 2 to 3 thousand hertz and 150 decibels. May cause hearing damage, and at close range - a mental disorder or destruction of internal organs.
5. Microwave weapons interfere with the brain and central nervous system. Powerful microwave emitters are available in the U.S. Army. The affected people feel a painful shock and desire to leave the area​​.
6. Thermal guns instantly warm the opponent's body to a temperature above 40 degrees.
7. Foam shooters are devices shooting foam that quickly hardens. Despite the seeming innocence, it is a formidable weapon. During tests a volunteer almost died of suffocation.

How are rallies dispersed in Russia? This issue has become particularly relevant given the revived mass protest activity.

While rallies in Russia are systematically dispersed (usually in cases where the organizers fail to obtain an official permit from the mayor's office, or when the course of the event spreads beyond the area approved by the government rules and regulations), the police normally does not use extreme violence.

So far no cases of use of rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas or stun grenades have been reported. The tactics of Russian riot police are simple and effective. They stand like Macedonian phalanx, and squeeze demonstrators with serried shields, periodically grabbing the most prominent and loud ones, taking them to specialized vehicles with metal bodies. Looking at videos of street clashes between police and protesters in the West and Russia, one can easily notice poor organization of the Western police. Often they are not acting as a single formation, but separately, mixing with the crowd. Perhaps, this disorganization and lack of competent strategy are pushing them to use rubber bullets.

Is Russian police planning to adopt these methods? Judging by the commentary of a retired FSB Major General Evgeny Lobachyov, not yet: "The toughest crackdown methods are used in France. They use bullets, and not only rubber ones, water cannons and tear gas, batons and metal clubs. They are followed by Germany, then England and the USA. In Russia such violation clashes are prevented because they first disperse the crowd and people leave."      

It seems that citizens of no country in the world can assemble peacefully and voice their demands despite the fact that this right is enshrined in the basic regulations of most states, as well as guaranteed under international norms. Of course, the level of police brutality varies.  

Will any country be able to find a compromise solution that allows people to freely and openly express their grievances to their government? Now in most countries those who silently voted for the ruling regime are the people, and those who are dissatisfied with something (even local problems) are considered trash and rebels. No matter how political regime describes itself, be it a democracy, authoritarianism, or dictatorship, a mechanism to respond to the protests is the same. As it turns out, those regimes that love teaching others about human rights in practice demonstrate even greater rigidity than some dictatorships.
Nadezhda Alexeeva


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