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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.

Russian Cosmetic Industry Booms

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Thanks to Johnson’s Russia List #29, we now have a place to go for information on the cosmetics industry in Russia. Cosmetics in Russia purports to be the “first online newsletter on the Russian perfumery and cosmetics market in English.” Blessed thanks. According to the site, the growth in the cosmetics market parallels general economic growth. And with that comes more concern for body image as advertisements that promote “beauty” are plastered across the cityscapes. It appears that Russians have a particular interest in oral hygiene:

In Russia oral care products make a substantial contribution to beauty industry. Oral care together with perfumery and make-up products are among the most popular cosmetics. Sales of oral hygiene contribute to 14% of total cosmetics and perfumery sales in Russia. To compare: in global cosmetics and perfumery market the share of oral care segment is not very high. The segment makes the least share (only 9% of the total cosmetics and perfumery sales worldwide), as compared to skin care (27%), hair care (21%), colour cosmetics (15%) and perfumery (11%), according to Kline and company.

Despite the fact that there are quite a few niches to be developed, overall oral hygiene growth remained dynamic in 2006. Growth sales rate of oral hygiene is expected to achieve 12% in value terms. The segment is supposed to reach $1,065 mln as compared to $951 mln in 2005. Consumption is gradually shifting towards more expensive products. Insignificant decline in growth from 12.6% to 12% can be explained by segment maturity. In 2005 toothpaste, which accounted for an estimated 75% of sales value, dictated the development in oral care. The same tendency took place in 2006. Also newly formed power toothbrush sales added an additional boost last year.

I guess we can expect more Russians to have shiny teeth in the years to come., especially since “tooth whiteners [are] to remain the fastest growing product type in oral hygiene with annual growth about 10%.”! If only Listerine was making similar jumps in market share. . .