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.

Joyal’s Jewels

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There are few new details in the Paul Joyal shooting. It turns out that Joyal wasn’t shot in the belly but in the family jewels. If nefarious spooky Russians did do this, they are either cruel or just bad shots. Joyal’s wife Elizabeth has consistently disputed police claims that her husband was robbed, but when asked her opinion of the motive, she said, “”We really have no idea what the reason was,” but added that “it could easily have been a random act of violence.” Police are also mum on any additional details.

Prince George’s police, who are handling the investigation, would not confirm whether anything was stolen from Joyal during the shooting.

‘‘The investigators are obviously aware of his background,” police spokeswoman Cpl. Debbi Carlson said.

‘‘It’s hard to determine what exactly took place there,” spokesman Cpl. Stephen Pacheco said, adding that the neighborhood where the shooting took place is typically a ‘‘quiet” residential area.

FBI spokeswoman Michelle Cornkovich confirmed that Prince George’s police are leading the investigation, and said the FBI has offered to provide any assistance the department needs.

Of course, this hasn’t stopped the wild media speculation and accusations. It seems like everyone has an opinion about Russia nowadays.

Well it doesn’t help when even tourists are ending up poisoned by thallium. I expect to read an expose of the incident in the next edition of the LA Russian community internet magazine, Russian LA.