ON ”OPERATION BIALYSTOK”
These short notes from a brief reading of the papers at my disposal concerning so-called Operation Bialystok were written to enlighten, albeit superficially given my subjective point of view, some of the salient contents of this new anti-anarchist investigation and the consequent repressive developments. The cyclical movements of the social conflict have always been followed by repressive waves, to the point that we often end up stating there is “nothing new under the sun”. However, analysing the changes in paradigm and the instruments being used along with those occurring in society as a whole means we can put them in context, identify their causes and specific goals and develop appropriate strategies of resistance and counter-attack. In fact repression changes and understanding it in its transformations should be of interest to those who are determined “always to do better” in the anarchist struggle against all power.
In the specific case that concerns me the most interesting part is the report that the prosecutor presented to the investigating judge with the request for custodial measures. The “wide overview” that the investigation aspires to is evident right from the first pages, an investigation whose declared goal is that of understanding the recent development of the anarchist movement in the Italian territory and, in the case in point, what some are referring to as the “New Anarchy”.
Here extensive use is made of the historical reconstruction elaborated as part of the Scripta Manent investigation, starting from the “splitting” of the movement following the Marini investigation into an “armed-struggle faction” (in favour of a stable recognizable organization) and a “faction in favour of anonymity”, which would have led to the four now famous tendencies of insurrectionalist anarchism: “classic”, “ informal”(another way used to indicate the tendencies defined “armed-struggle oriented”), “social” and “ecologist”. Following first-grade sentences against the FAI, a result that crowned decades of investigations and failed trials, now the inquisitors seem to want to “take advantage” of what had been established at judicial level by this long series of sentences. And this also seems to apply to the investigating methods. As for operation Scripta Manent, where the analysis of documents seemed to be a main point of the investigation, in fact the ROS continue to distinguish themselves with their centralized (and privileged) monitoring of the anarchist-insurrectionalist effervescence through a systematic examination of the “publications of the area”. This methodology is the same as that elaborated within the former anti-crime nucleus of the infamous general Dalla Chiesa aimed at opposing the armed rebelliousness of the 1970s and 80s: a vast chaotic context is fathomed, dissected, schematized and reassembled to make a picture decipherable by the law-warped mentality of the various judges and inquisitors.
And so, according to the inquisitors, following the same method this “New Anarchy” would be characterized by going beyond the now traditional differences concerning the use of acronyms and claims in favour of a more “fluid” position, alternating the latters’ use with anonymity according to assessments made at the time. This passage would have occurred following the “dictates” that Alfredo Cospito is said to have promulgated from prison through various articles published in the anarchist papers Vetriolo and Fenrir.
In the investigation that concerns me, the people under investigation are therefore described as “heirs” of the FAI which would have adopted Cospito’s “indications”, in the light of the similarity in content of the “clandestine document” Dire e Sedire [Say and commit Sedition] (a piece attributed to them), with the claim of the attack on the carabinieri barracks of San Giovanni in Rome, and those more generally expressed by the FAI (conflictuality versus wait-and-see, responding to repression with action, solidarity campaigns). Further evidence consists of the solidarity with prisoner individuals following Operation Scripta Manent expressed through participation in meetings and initiatives and correspondence with Alfredo in prison. Moreover several actions, some claimed others not, but always associated with solidarity, along with some of the contents that came out in the context of Operation Panico, would be a “clear indication” of this change in strategy.
Another element upon which the investigation pivots that we need to look closely at is of a purely judicial order. As the investigators themselves have admitted, the problem they are trying to solve through the numerous investigations and operations that have struck anarchist realities cyclically is their difficulty in applying associative crimes to anarchist organizational methods. In this respect the prosecution cites the sentence issued by the Florence court of Review concerning the charge of criminal association hypothesised in the Panico trial as well as those against the FAI, as jurisprudential innovation. The former expresses itself in the nature of the associative bonds indicating that these “do not necessarily have to have characteristics of continuity” but it is sufficient for them to be active for the aims of the association, i.e. for its strengthening. As participation in an anarchist action is essentially “free form”, it therefore takes on a variable “consistency”. On the contrary, regarding the FAI organization, the Court of Cassation had already expressed itself in 2013, establishing its effective subversive character in that:
It is formed by a plurality of autonomous cells that share a certain ideological belief
It is animated by an internal debate which directs its way of acting
It involves specific roles that can be different from those normally attributed to an association because it is also an anarchist organization, and therefore without leaders
It has the declared goal of wanting to destroy the present institutional and economic order
It accepts the risk of collateral victims
These aspects, added to more generic ones as for example those mentioned previously (conflictuality, solidarity…) are also used to set contemporary anarchism in a context and to associate its characteristics with the FAI, presenting them as “disturbing correspondences” so as to be able to apply the charge envisaged in article 270bis to Operation Bialystok. Concepts and instruments that have been a legacy of anarchism for centuries are thus presented as characteristics peculiar to a subversive association and consequently any manifestation of them can be potentially traceable to “ideological contiguity”:
Mutual aid in the case of repression and “conflictual solidarity” would be a terrorist instrument because they are methods used by FAI (read “solidarity campaigns”)
The manifest will to oppose the various forms of power and capitalism (such as opposition to technological dominance) becomes a “subversive project”
The natural dynamicity of the anarchist movement that expresses itself through internal debate would serve to make different components converge in common goals (“instigate and plan violent actions”)
Interest in issues of international nature and repressive cases abroad are “anonymous expressions of the FAI projectuality”
In this way a draft is starting to be created of what seems to be looming as a sort of ideological crime: the intention of wanting to destroy the State and the various forms of power, the praxis of solidarity and support towards prisoner individualities, the contributions to the ferment of ideas and the confrontation between different approaches, analyses, strategies, in other words everything that characterizes anarchism in the wider sense can be potentially associated with terrorism. Also here we could say, nothing new. But I’d like to draw attention to the fact that these elements are not extrapolated from generic anarchist thought, but are taken to the position of a “well known” terrorist organization. The difference is evident.
But a piece is still missing to complete our investigative picture. According to the law, in order for terrorism to be applicable in relation to an association, it is necessary to demonstrate the effective possibility that the latter is capable of actions consonant with endangering democracy, the normal activity of institutions, or at the very least of stirring “panic and terror among the population”. And it is here that the latest brilliant concept is unleashed to underpin the accusatory frame. If the appearance of similar elements between different claims or in specific contested deeds (such as highlighting the role of ENI in the exploitation of the Earth, the relations between Libya and Italy in regard to migration or the interest in certain imprisoned individuals or repressive cases such as Operation Scintilla and the hunger strike carried out by the anarchists locked up in L’Aquila) are considered “clear indications” of the same criminal project, and if the “fluid relations” within a milieu that shares the preconceptions of the anarchist struggle are also prefigured as “associative links”, then it is precisely the latter that creates the effective possibility of a real threat to the stability of power, and which consequently constitutes a cause for alarm in the institutions. In fact, as expressed by the sentence of the Court of Review in Rome which has confirmed the custodial measures, what would indicate the operational dangerousness of the association would be precisely “the context” within which it finds itself operating. In other words if there exists an “environment” capable of taking on its “operational proposals” and putting them into practice, then it is not necessary for the investigated persons to have actually gone into action in order to identify them as the promoters of a “subversive” project, and therefore of being part of a terrorist association. So the formula that usually specifies the context in which instigation to commit crime has to be expressed (in order for instigation to stand out the presence of a “sensitive” context to pick up the invitation to commit a crime is necessary) is being used to establish that of terrorism. We find ourselves faced with a kind of inversion of the cause with the effect. It is not because a subversive organization/association exists that consequently actions are carried out which are dangerous to the established order. Rather a tautological discourse is built up according to which it is because there is an “environment”, in this case anarchism, within which contents such as solidarity and the will to destroy the State, Capital and their expressions circulate, and because at the same time facts that are attempts at pursuing those contents in practice take place, that there must necessarily be a terrorist-subversive association that plans them.
In my opinion it seems clear at this point that one of the elements that this umpteenth operation wants to strike is the anarchist debate and, more specifically, “communication through action”. In fact, in the pages of the investigation several “exchanges” are mentioned, which took place in claims, also internationally, with references to other actions, referring to concepts expressed elsewhere, declarations of solidarity with anarchist prisoners in other states, etc. This is done in order to outline the features of a context receptive to continuing “the thread” of paths and lines of reasoning propagated by single groups or individualities, through a claim or a simple written text. A proposal for intervention, or a certain reflection, must be visible, clear, recognizable in order to be picked up. Therefore it must “appear” within a context, and the claim and written contribution must have precisely this aim, regardless of the means of communication used.
Moreover with these presuppositions the crime of association can easily become a nebulous cap to place indiscriminately on anyone who in some way refers to contents and practices considered to be preoccupying by the institutions, such as sabotage of the machinery of deportation, opposition to war or to a particular repressive wave for example.
Potentially, however, they go even farther, i.e. in the direction of labelling the very theoretical bases and the most elementary practices of anarchism as terrorist. Today events that generate a certain level of alarm in the institutions are still necessary to justify such a hypothesis of criminal offence. That is why the San Giovanni attack signed FAI and the burning of some cars belonging to “eni enjoy” car-sharing, attributed to a person who according to the prosecution wouldn’t even be part of the association, or the protests that resulted in Paska’s transfer from the prison of La Spezia, are all included in the investigations.
Events which “would have prevented an institution of the State from correctly carrying out its functions”, as a support to the terrorist hypothesis (a thesis which made it possible for the investigators to even try to include Paska in the association, an attempt which failed only because of a technical error of the investigating judge). Or that several other incendiary attacks which occurred in the capital are mentioned which, even if they were never attributed to any of the persons under investigation, would all the same be ascribable to them, being “similar as for typology of targets, methodology of action and solidarity claims”. Or that preoccupation is expressed because of some explosive packages sent in March 2020, mainly in the outskirts of Rome, in order to justify “the effectiveness of the danger”. The latter are also to be found in a note added to the request for custodial measures, which convinces me of the preventive character of their application. As in the case of Operation Ritrovo, this investigation also remained on the investigating judge’s desk for several months, but with the state of exception that accompanied the spread of the corona virus, the pressure of emergency must have pushed the investigating judge to sign it.
I think that the acceleration of some processes of the State-Capital evolution caused by the corona virus crisis also concerns the repressive context, the management of internal insurrection and of public order in general and so it would be good to start right away to develop lines of reasoning useful to facing it.
I hope the present piece can be a contribution in this direction, I invite anyone to respond to and widen these considerations which are necessarily limited by my knowledge and therefore reflect a partial gaze.
With the heart, the mind, the hand.
One of the Bialystok 6
Casa Circondariale di Terni
Str. Delle Campore 32
05100 Terni (TR)
Translated by act for freedom now!