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.

Amnesty International Report on Domestic Violence in Russia

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Amnesty International released a report this week on domestic violence in Russia. The report gives some horrifying statistics on violence against women perpetrated by husbands, boyfriends and relatives. Here is the rundown:

  • 70 per cent of women said that they had been subjected to one or another form of violence (psychological, sexual, physical and economical) by their husband
  • 36 per cent of women experienced physical and psychological violence
  • 7 per cent of women endured all forms of violence (physical, economic, sexual and psychological) simultaneously
  • over 70 per cent of women said they suffered from some form of psychological discomfort in relation to their husband, including stress, anxiety, lack of confidence, powerlessness, dependency, despair, guilt, fear or inadequacy
  • 51 per cent of women experienced restrictions of some kind or had threats made against them. Twenty-two per cent were threatened with physical harm; 15 per cent were threatened with abandonment
  • 90 per cent of all respondents had either witnessed scenes of domestic psychological violence between their parents, or had experienced it in their current relationship.

And:

  • 58 per cent of women had been subjected to aggression from one or another close male (current or former husband, fianc? or lover)
  • 18 per cent of women found themselves in a situation of regular or severe physical mishandling by their husbands
  • 48 per cent of women beaten were attacked while they were pregnant, breast feeding, had small children, were ill, had lost their job or were experiencing difficulties at work, or were experiencing physical or mental suffering and found themselves in a position of helplessness
  • Over 60 per cent of women beaten by their husband had experienced various degrees of trauma as a result; 3 per cent of all those questioned required medical assistance.

If readers need to put a human face on these numbers, I suggest reading the section of the report that chronicles “Anna’s Story.” There is no need for further comment. The numbers speak for themselves. Amnesty is correct to name domestic violence as a serious human rights violation. Based on official numbers, 9000 women out of a population of 143 million are killed in 2003. For certain, the numbers are much higher. To get some perspective on the scope of the problem in Russia, here are some statistics for the United States. According to RFE/RL article on the report, 2,000 to 3,500 woman of a population of 300 million are killed annually in the U.S. at the hands of husbands, relatives, and boyfriends.