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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.

Thallium or Just Bad Sushi? More on Litvinenko

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The Litvinenko Affair gets more complicated. The Guardian is reporting via the Associated Press reports that London doctors are now saying that “thallium poisoning is an unlikely cause of [Litvinenko’s] current condition.” Well, isn’t that interesting. The entire article reads:

Doubts over cause of spy’s illness

Press Association

Tuesday November 21, 2006 5:58 PM

The illness of the Russian former security agent Alexander Litvinenko is unlikely to have been caused by thallium poisoning, the hospital doctors treating him have said.

Dr Amit Nathwani, the consultant caring for Mr Litvinenko at University College Hospital in London said further tests would be conducted to establish the cause of his condition.

The latest twist in the extraordinary Cold War-style saga came after a leading toxicologist claimed that Mr Litvinenko could have been poisoned with “radioactive thallium”.

In a statement, the hospital trust said: “Mr Litvinenko is being treated in the intensive care unit of University College Hospital so he can receive cardiac monitoring and specialist support in areas such as nutrition and pain relief.

“He can also be more effectively isolated to protect him against infection, following the damage to his immune system.

“We have requested toxicology tests to establish what poisoned Mr Litvinenko. Based on results we have received today and Mr Litvinenko’s clinical features, thallium poisoning is an unlikely cause of his current condition.

“Further tests will be carried out to establish whether or not there is a single cause for Mr Litvinenko’s condition.”

© Copyright Press Association Ltd 2006, All Rights Reserved.

The question now becomes: What was the original source that said that Litvinenko was poisoned? And why was almost every news organ reporting the case (this blog included) was so willing to accept it without skepticism? More on this later . . .

Special thanks to F. Kriukov for alerting me to this story.