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.

“Violent Racism Out of Control” in Russia

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I don’t have time to comment on this, but I wanted to alert readers to Amnesty International’s report, “Russian Federation: Violent Racism Out of Control.” The report was released today and is surely to confirm fears of a marked rise in racial violence in Russia. Sadly, there are enough news reports on racial beatings and killings to corroborate the report. Here is an excerpt from the report’s introduction:

Racist attacks and killings of foreigners and ethnic minorities are reported with shocking regularity in Russia and disturbingly, their frequency seems to be increasing. Victims whose cases have come to the attention of Amnesty International include students, asylum-seekers and refugees from Africa and Asia, as well as people from the south Caucasus, from South, Southeast and Central Asia, from the Middle East and from Latin America. However, citizens of the Russian Federation are no less at risk of physical attack. Anyone who does not look typically ethnic Russian, for example, individuals from ethnic groups of the North Caucasus, in particular Chechens, as well as members of the Jewish community, Roma and children of mixed parentage are at risk. Even ethnic Russians who are seen as sympathizing with foreigners or ethnic minority groups, for example, fans of rap or reggae music, members of other youth sub-cultures, and campaigners against racism, have also been targeted as they are perceived as “unpatriotic” or “traitors”. Attacks have been reported in towns and cities across the Russian Federation.

Russian and international media are now reporting racist attacks on an almost daily basis. However, the attacks have been taking place for years. Voronezh, a university town 600 km south of Moscow with a large number of foreign students, attracted media attention when Amaru Antoniu Lima from Guinea-Bissau was stabbed to death by a gang in Voronezh in February 2004 and again in October 2005 following the murder of Peruvian student Enrique Arturo Angelis Urtado. However, foreign students had already documented seven killings and about 70 attacks against current or former foreign students over the five years prior to these murders which they viewed as racially motivated, but which had gone more or less unnoticed.

If I find some time to read the report, I will write my thoughts on it. In the meantime, some press on it can be found here:

Racism in Russia is out of control: Amnesty
Russian racism ‘out of control’
Amnesty accuses Kremlin of inaction as racism spins ‘out of …
Russia: Racism ‘Out Of Control,’ Says Amnesty