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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.

A Gross Violation of the Public Order

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By Daut

In what Moskovskii Komsomolets calls “an echo of the explosion at the Cherkizovskii market,” five Moscow militsia officers and a police dog named Steve were injured by a homemade bomb intended to kill 20 year old antifascist activist Tigran M. According to newsru.com, Tigran’s problems with local nationalists started after he went to Saint Petersburg for slain activist Timur Kacharava’s funeral. Soon after that, graffiti reading “Tigran, tell Timur we said hi” appeared on the wall of his podyezd.

On Friday as he was leaving his apartment, Timur noticed a swastika drawn on the wall and a sign on the heater outside his door that read “Black assed khachi (a derogatory word for people from the Caucuses) live in apartment 231″. He was about to remove it, when he noticed that it was attached to a plastic bottle filled with liquid and powder. He called the militsia, who soon arrived with the dog. The militsia didn’t follow standard procedure of immediately calling an ambulance and informing the MChS, so they may face charges once released from the hospital. The theory published in most of the articles is that Steve brushed the bottle and set off the explosion. MK further reports that the explosive device was made with the same chemicals as the bomb placed by Russian nationalists at the Cherkizovsky market last August that killed 13 people. Whatever the case, at least two of the officers most likely permanently lost their eyesight.

If this made the evening news, I missed it, but the Russian Live Journal community was abuzz, with nationalists claiming “ provokatsia.” One post by antifascist LJ user Maskodagama received 890 comments. The news reports were initially contradictory, which gave the nationalists ammunition to dismiss the whole thing, but no one can dispute that there was an explosion and five militsia officers and a dog ended up in the hospital. Tigran had his own LJ account, although Maskodagama hasn’t released his nick. The FSB has confiscated his computer.

An event perhaps even more similar than the Cherkizovsky bombing to the attempted murder of Tigran happened in the late nineties. In podmoskovy, a woman found an anti-Semitic sign on the side of the road which exploded when she tried to move it. While that was most likely a random act of violence, no one other than Nazi sympathizers doubts that Tigran or a family member was the intended victim of the bomb. Nationalists find nothing ironic in writing in their Live Journals about the “myth of Russian fascism” while posting anti-Semitic and racist diatribes under 3 rd Reich inspired avatars. They’re also experts at red herrings, strawmen and lying. I remember reading, I think it was Sevastianov, claim that the swastika carved in the rifle used to kill Lanzar Samba was backwards and the word “skinhead” was spelled wrong. I’ve seen pictures of the rifle and the swastika is in the right direction and whoever wrote “skinhead” spelled it correctly.

An article by Lidia Chakalova about the bombing appeared in Utra.ru, along with a photo of what at first appears to be a yellow bomby-looking thing with a black swastika painted on it. But keen eyed internet users pointed out that it was just an amateur homemade radio antenna with a swastika photoshopped on. Nazis presented this on the ru_politics LJ community as proof that the whole story was made up.

Suspects in the bombing case are 18 year old Roman S, and Denis L and Konstantin T, both of whom are 17 years old. All are members of a nationalist group.

According to Kommersant, the crime will be prosecuted under Part 2, Article 213 of the criminal code of the Russian Federation. To anyone who has paid attention to the recent rash of racist attacks in Russia it will come to no surprise that this is the article on “hooliganism.”

Daut currently lives in Ufa, Russia.