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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.

The Duma’s Falsification of History

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It appears that the Soviet practice of erasing history from sight and therefore mind continues in Putin’s Russia. Kommersant reports that contrary to the position of the Duma’s Upper Chamber, the State Duma has ruled to remove the hammer and sickle from the WWII Victory Banner, which was raised on the German Reichstag on May 1, 1945.

Support and opposition to the move surely breaks along generational/political lines. “As the son of a War veteran, I can’t vote for the bill,” Sergey Minorov, speaker of the Federation Council, said before the vote. “If our elderly are against it, let’s respect their opinion.” Communists have also opposed the change stating that “symbol of Victory Day now looks more like that of the Day of the People’s Republic of China.” Communist MP Viktor Tyulkin stated before the Duma vote, “The main content was conveyed by the red color, the hammer, sickle and star, which symbolized the unity of the workers, peasants and workers peasants of the Red Army.” One can’t help to note the irony of members of the Communist Party complaining about falsifying history.

However, mention of workers’ and peasants’ unity didn’t spark any nostalgia among members of United Russia, who are spearheading the bill as a way to search for “more efficient models for interaction with the countries on the post-Soviet space.” In the case of the Victory Banner, United Russia wants to harness the victories of the Communist past only without the Communists.