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.

Russia Accused of Shipping Arms to Sudan

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Amnesty International has released a report charging Russia with illegally shipping arms to Sudan despite a UN embargo. In response the Russia Foreign Ministry issued a statement deny the charges. “No Russian weapons have been shipped to Darfur. . . Russia’s military and technical cooperation with other countries is in line with international rules and norms. Russia has fully abided by the provisions of resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which ban arms shipments to Darfur.” In addition to Russia, China, Iran, Belarus, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have shipped heavy weapons, small arms, or other dual use and military support materials to Sudan. Russia and China are the most egregious in terms of dollar amount and the fact that both countries are members of the UN Security Council.

Amnesty says different. According to the report, “Sudan: arms continuing to fuel serious human rights violations in Darfur,” states that in 2005 the Russian Federation “exported to Sudan $21 million worth of aircraft and associated equipment including spare parts and $13.7 million of helicopters.” The helicopters, Russian Mi-24s, have been used for indiscriminately firing on Darfur civilians.

In my opinion, shipping arms to Sudan makes Russia party to genocide. As Article 16 of the U.N. International Law Commission’s Articles on Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts states:

A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so if:

(a) that State does so with knowledge of the circumstances of the internationally wrongful act; and

(b) the act would be internationally wrongful if committed by that State.