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.

Nashi Website Blocked!

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As a few of us discovered yesterday, the website for the pro-Kremlin youth organization Nashi is blocked for users with non-Russian IP addresses. Entering into your favorite browser will turn up a “403 Forbidden” error. I’ve had limited success getting around this block using Russian proxy servers. While it happens that some websites and blogs are blocked by some countries (as Nathan Hamm at recently discovered), I assume it seems less common that a site will block access to readers outside the host country.

Then again, one wonders if the problem has deeper meaning. According to a report from February a number of Russian nationalist sites have been blocked by the authorities. Hackers have retaliated with targeting pro-Kremlin sites.


The websites might also be out of service because of hackers’ back-to-back attacks on behalf of the nationalist and anti-fascist movements in Russia. Websites of the youth Nashi and Molodaia Gvardiia movements had also been out of service for some time.

At the moment the Molodaia Gvardiia site is accessible and working. This brings me to believe that Nashi has blocked access to their own site. Kinda gives a whole new meaning to “Our own.”

If anyone has any additional information or theories, please pass them along.