Recent Posts

Russian Socialists in the Struggle for Democracy

For the past few weeks, protests for fair elections in upcoming municipal polls have become weekly in Moscow and St. Petersburg as thousands have defied authorities to attend unsanctioned rallies. The police crackdown has been particularly harsh in Moscow. Protests on July 27 and August 3 resulted in over 2000 detentions. Images of police in riot gear wrestling citizens to the ground and beating peaceful protesters were reminiscent of the mass protests against election fraud in 2011-2012.

Members of the Russian Socialist Movement, a small Marxist, anti-Stalinist organization active in the Russian left, have been participants in local electoral campaigns and in the protests. Two RSM activists, Valeria Kovelishina and Ilya Budraitskis talk about the Russian Socialist Movement, their electoral work, the protests for democracy in Russia and what they might mean for the future.

Witnessing the Collapse of Communism


Roundtable discussion marking the 30th anniversary of the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. Participants include Timothy Garton Ash, Bridget Kendall, and Jens Reich.

The Evictors

Around Moscow, there’s a whole industry of so-called “black creditors” — microfinance institutions (or MFOs) that swindle and seize debtors’ homes. Ivan Golunov’s investigation for Meduza has discovered that almost 500 apartments have been seized from their owners over the past five years without so much as a court order. In fact, this scheme involves more than simply “squeezing” people from their homes. It is possibly part of a wider, international money-laundering system. Here’s Meduza special correspondent Ivan Golunov on the ins and outs of this industry.

Transitions

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I’ve left Russia. My ten month research trip is finally over. I won’t bore readers with all of the emotion I felt leaving a place that began to feel like home. I’ve decided a while ago not to make this blog that type of blog. There are enough egoists on the net who feel that the intimacies of their life are worthy of public display. Suffice to say that Moscow is an amazingly magnetic city. I met many wonderful people who I know will always be part of my life.

But the question remains: since this blog was created because of trip to Russia, what happens now that I’m no longer there? I’ve decided that I rather enjoy writing about Russian current events as much as about its history. And from talking to some of you (most of who are my friends), it seems that my thoughts on these matters are appreciated. Therefore, I’ve decided to make this a permanent thing. I figure that if anything this will aid my career as an academic, or provide an avenue for a different career path. We’ll see. But let there by no mistake. My main reason for doing this is because I enjoy it.

Now that I’m home and have better access to the internet and other resources, there are a few things I want to add/change about the blog.

  1. A consistent schedule for posting. So far, I’ve tried to post at least once a week. I’ve been moderately successful in this. I would like to increase to posting two times a week, with hopes of three. For now I will post on Tuesdays and Fridays, and if this works and I can manage the time, hopefully I will also include Sunday.
  2. More frequent shorter postings that highlight news about Russia and more infrequent longer articles and book reviews about particular themes. If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I post rather long pieces. My hope shorter ones will allow me post more frequently. The difficulty will be in transforming my verbosity into brevity.
  3. Guest writers. I want to start including pieces by some people I know who also make Russia their career. If they are willing to go a long with this, it will provide more voices besides my own. I especially want to include more book reviews and including other people will help with this.
  4. I would like to hear from those who consistently read the blog. Some of you have posted comments, and though I don’t always respond, I do read and enjoy them. I would like readers to give their input to what they think I should include. My long term hope is that if people post comments this might start discussion on some of the issues I bring up.
  5. Adding links and other resources is an on going project. This will expand as time goes on. I’m trying to keep the Russian language links at a minimum since I presume most readers don’t read Russian. I will however continue to include links to Russian sites I find interesting.

In addition to all this, look out for a piece on the phenomenon of dedovshchina in the coming week. Dedovshchina or “rule of the grandfathers” is the culture of hazing in the Russian military. Last year Human Rights Watch released a 90 page report on its rituals, frequency, and effects on recruits and the military. If the Russian government ever comes around to the necessity for military reform (which they are avoiding like the plague), dealing with dedovshchina will be a major issue.

Also, to continue with my reporting on youth politics in Russia, look for a piece on the recent attack on the National Bolsheviks by alleged Nashi activists. In late August, a meeting of the Natsbols and representatives of the Communist Youth League, Red Youth Vanguard, and Za Rodina were attacked by 30 masked men with baseball bats and air guns. This incident only points to the increasing role of violence between youth groups. It possibly is another prelude to what tactics groups like Nashi will use during the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Finally, I want to thank everyone whose been reading. The hits on the site have been steadily increasing, with readers from the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Kazakhstan, and Sweden. Keep reading and I’ll keep writing.