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.

NY Rep Calls for Criminal Charges against the NY Times

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Perhaps I should change the focus of this blog to “Did we Americans learn anything from the Soviet Union?” since the actions of State and Congressional representatives keep pulling me away from Russia. Today’s outrage is a call by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) for the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute the NY Times with criminal charges for publishing stories about the Bush Administration’s secret financial monitoring program. The LA Times published a similar story. Vice President Dick Cheney blasted the papers on Friday for revealing the program. Apparently Cheney and King believe that the press should do their bidding. Sadly the press did for the first four years of the Bush Administration. Now it’s finally pushing back. Well, at least a little bit. Here is what King said according to Editor and Publisher:

Rep. Peter King blasted the newspaper’s decision last week to report that the Treasury Department was working with the CIA to examine messages within a massive international database of money-transfer records.

“I am asking the Attorney General to begin an investigation and prosecution of The New York Times — the reporters, the editors and the publisher,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. “We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous.”

The conservative lawmaker called the paper “pompous, arrogant, and more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people.”

Notice the tired rhetoric: we are at “war”, the NY Times as “pompous, arrogant”, and “left-wing elitist agenda”. Look how he positions himself and his support for such a program as in the interests and desires of the “American people.” I guess representatives like King expect us to focus all attention of the boogeyman “left-wing elitist agenda” and not the fact that the American government is spying on Americans under the guise of the eternal War on Terror. Why don’t they just stop with all the whining and nationalize the media already. That is clearly what they want.