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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.

Mr. Kadyrov Visits Nashi

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Kommersant reports that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov made a trip to Camp Nashi. Apparently Kadyrov was so impressed that he invited Nashi to set up shop in Chechnya.

Kadyrov took a tour of the camp, beginning with the central alley called Sovereign Democracy Avenue. Then he saw an imitation of Eternal Fire monument, and Yakemenko reminded him that the slogan “Russia for Russians” might lead to a civil war.

Kadyrov met some Chechen young people among Nashi activists. He hugged them and talked Chechen to them, and his only words in Russian were “We [Chechens] have fallen behind. Now we should become first.”

Then Kadyrov’s attention was diverted to some tents with banners “Our Army”, where Nashi activists are trained for fighting against the humiliating treatment of juniors in Russian armed forces. While Nashi activists were admiring Kadyrov’s Hermes shoes, a frightened man showed from the tent asking not to enter yet.

Kadyrov went on in the meantime, noticing a tent on the outskirts of the camp with the banner saying Tashkent. “Ethnic” ghetto of young Uzbek activists suddenly gave an idea to Kadyrov—that Nashi camp should be organized in Chechnya as well.

Then Kadyrov was invited back to “Our Army” tents to watch a theatrical show. Around ten young men clad in military uniform simulated troop movements, crawling in the dust, lighting land pots and dragging gun dummies behind them. Kadyrov praised the show and began taking photographs with Nashi activists.

Will Chechen youths be attending any lectures on the “Ideology of Ramzan Kadyrov” anytime soon?