On February 4, 2007 a small bomb, supplied with a timing device, exploded in 4:20 PM in Vladimirskaya square of St. Petersburg, where Food Not Bombs shares free food every Sunday.
The bomb was hidden in a kiosk that sells flowers, but the device was small and just damaged kiosk and nobody was hurt. Obviously, purpose of the bomb was not to kill but to terrorize.
Luckily, that day Food Not Bombs was late for the scheduled serving. The Food Not Bombs activists showed up at Vladimirskaya square a few minutes after the explosion and the food was given to homeless without any problems. Usually 4:20 would be the moment with most people gathering in the square for food.
At time of the action, activists did not pay much attention to damage at the flower kiosk and considered timing as a coincidence – it could have been some conflict between organized crime for example. But later in the day it was revealed that the bomb had been set with a timing device and people realized that Food Not Bombs might have been targeted on purpose.
Russian Nazis have used explosives quite often. The last time was in Moscow on the 22nd of December when a bomb set up against local anti-fascists wounded a number of police who attempted to neutralize device. Last August a bomb set up by Nazis killed 11 in Cherkisovski marketplace in Moscow.
Nazis have often targeted Food Not Bombs in St. Petersburg. On January 14, 2007 Food Not Bombs volunteer Ivan Elin suffered 20 stab wounds when leaving the Food Not Bombs action. He is stillrecovering from his wounds. On November 13, 2005 another Food Not Bombs activist Timur Kacharava was murdered leaving the action at Vladimirskaya square in St. Petersburg, Russia. A second volunteer was also stabbed during that attack.
Food Not Bombs is a global movement that shares free vegetarian meals with the hungry and works for peace and social justice. The St. Petersburg, Russia chapter is one of hundreds of Food Not Bombs groups active around the world. The movement started in Boston, Massachusetts in the United States in 1980. This has been a difficult year for the movement. New Orleans Food Not Bombs volunteer Helen Hill, was fatally shot on January 4th in her home. Helen’s husband, Paul Gailiunas was injured in the early morning shooting and is recovering from multiple gunshot wounds. The couple’s 2-year-old son, Francis, was not injured.
Food Not Bombs organized a national food relief effort setting up kitchens all across the gulf region the week Hurricane Katrina hit. Food Not Bombs shared three meals a day in New Orleans Washington Square Park until the mayor forced them to move to another location. New Orleans officials reported that Food Not Bombs provided the only daily meals in the city for the first few months after Katrina.
Finally several American cities are trying to stop their local Food Not Bombs groups from sharing food. The city of Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada outlawed the distribution of free food in their parks. Several Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested in Las Vegas. The Orlando Food Not Bombs chapter has not been arrested so far and continues to share free food every week.
San Francisco Food Not Bombs was arrested over 1,000 times for sharing free food wit the hungry. Police and the movement’s co-founder Keith McHenry faced 25 years to life under the “California Three Strikes” law often beat the volunteers. Amnesty International declared that the Food Not Bombs volunteers would be considered “Prisoners of Conscience” if they were convicted. The violence and arrested in San Francisco ended in 1997 after nine years of repression.The bombing in St. Petersburg, Russia is the latest in a number of tragic events to impact the global nonviolent movement Food Not Bombs. Even with these difficulties Food Not Bombs continues to grow and feeds hundreds of people all over the world.