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 Update!

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Gotcha! Actually, there is still nothing new concerning the shooting of Paul Joyal, though it appears that DC police are pretty much convinced it was an ordinary crime. According to the Washington Post, “sources with knowledge of the investigation said this week they are increasingly convinced that the incident is the work of ordinary criminals rather than part of a wider conspiracy.”

Joyal has yet to make a statement to the public. I find this a bit strange considering the media attention and allegations that the incident was another Kremlin conspiracy and just one more example of Russia’s “dying democracy.” He has apparently given his account of the incident to the cops.

[Oleg] Kalugin [former KGB General, longtime friend, and former business partner] said this week that Joyal is in stable condition and has given a partial account of what happened to family members.

“He said he was attacked by two guys. They jumped at him from the bushes around the house, and he resisted. They shot him. In a panic, they ran away,” Kalugin said. “It appears to be an ordinary criminal act.”

A source with knowledge of the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is ongoing confirmed that a witness heard two men accosting Joyal before he was shot. That account has investigators looking into the possibility that the incident was an attempted carjacking, the source said.

Given Kalugin’s credentials, I’m sure he would know a Kremlin plot if he smelled one.