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.

Limonov on Russia’s Game in Georgia

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I’m fascinated by Eduard Limonov and the controversy surrounding him. In Moscow, I bought his Limonov protiv Putina to get a better idea of his thought on Russia under Putin. Time has not permitted me to read the book. I hope to get to it soon. I also purchased B. G. Yakemenko’s denunciation, Limonov o Limonove i ne tol’ko, of the National Bolshevik leader as a fascist. Yakamenko is one of Nashi’s main ideologues. My own analysis of the National Bolsheviks can be found here.

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t so much about Limonov as it is about pointing to his recent article, “Putin’s Dirty Game in Georgia” published in this week’s The Exile. Here is an excerpt:

For the last month Russia’s society is shaken by anti-Georgian epileptic fit. Federal television stations are translating criminal stories of exclusively “Georgian” crimes committed on Russian territory by ethnic Georgians. The Russian political class turned against Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, numerous articles are written, and interviews are given in order to portray Saakashvili as traitor to Russian interests and worst, as an American agent. Russian police is busy hunting Georgians at metro stations, at market places, as well as on the streets and in the trains. Even popular personalities of Russian public life, such as writer Boris Akunin (Tchkhartishvili) or sculptor Tsereteli, or ex-intelligence officer Kikabidze, are under attack: Internal Revenue Service is checking their revenues and paid taxes. Thousands of Georgians are deported.

As nothing of sort can happen in Kingdom of Russia without permission of Vladimir Putin, President, I should believe that President of Russia at least is agree with persecutions of Georgians. Even more, I believe that all that hysteria is created by President of Russia. I believe that simple personal conflict is hidden behind anti-Georgian campaign in Russia.

Young, stout, big, wine drinker, gourmand and bon-vivant Saakashvili, husband of a pretty foreign wife, is drastically opposite type than ascetic, tiny, puritan, square Putin. That couple is predestined to be the enemies.

Another distinction between Georgian and Russian presidents — Saakashvili is public politician, he started his career as a disciple of Shevardnadze, who he has defeated by personally leading “Rose Revolution.” Exuberant, mocking, scornful, good speaker — Saakashvili feels great at parliament, and public places. He is street politician. While President Putin is at his best when working hidden in his office. He is introvert, he hates to face the crowds. Vladimir Putin is appointed leader, appointed by Yeltsin, Putin is a maitre of hidden intrigue. Putin is bureaucrat. They probably hate guts of each other, those two.

It is known that Putin is revengeful person. Old hand of his administration once told me that sudden hike in price of natural gas to Belorussia wasn’t result of premeditated plan, but happened after President Lukashenko committed slip of tongue during televised interview, said few unpleasant words about Putin. Putin was enraged, he murmured, “He didn’t respect, he didn’t respect me…” In order to punish Lukashenko, he gave order to rise price of gas for Belorussia. Nobody told me that President Putin was enraged by Saakashvili, but I believe that my analysis is absolutely right, no matter what other analytics said. Psychological structure of Russian leader is dictating foreign and internal policies of contemporary Russia.

As far as whether Limonov is making any creditable sense, I’ll let you decide.