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.

Belarus Blues

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As I’m sure many known, Belarus holds presidential elections on March 19. Unfortunately time doesn’t allow me to provide extensive comments on the Lukashenka government’s crackdown on the opposition. I hope to write something on the role of youth in the election in the coming days. In the meantime, let me point readers to some places that are providing news and analysis.

Radio Free Europe has sent up a special section called Belarus Votes 2006 which has daily coverage. I also recommend the hour long panel discussion (Real Audio Windows Media) on the elections sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Eurasian Home also has a special section on the elections.

I have only one quick observation about the reporting. I find it interesting, and frankly quite predictable, that the elections about being placed in a narrative of the Ukraine’s Orange Revolution. In fact, some are already giving the would-be “revolution” a name—the “Denim Revolution.” The drama is certainly building with all the physical attacks on the opposition. Let’s see how this narrative plays out in reality. To me this poses all sorts of questions about how “democratic” elections in the Former Soviet states are being framed in the West.