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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.

ОМОН: риалити шоу

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Imagine this. OMON needs to improve its image. The Russian version of SWAT put on a show for over 100 journalists in Shchyolkovo-7 where the elite police special operations unit, Zubr, is based. The outdoor demonstration of OMON’s expertise and physical acumen was a cross between bad 1970s cop shows and Gymkata. The Moscow Times reports:

 

In one training exercise, masked officers abseiled headfirst down a four-story building, threw smoke grenades into a second-story window and then swung into the buildings through open windows, firing handguns and shouting.

In another exercise, some 15 officers formed a circle, then two-by-two stepped forward and squared off in a display of hand-to-hand combat. As the music blared, they demonstrated how to repel a knife-wielding attacker; how to disarm, flip and shoot an attacker in the head with his own rifle; and how to evade a kick to the head with a back-flip.

A third exercise was designed to highlight the obedience of OMON police dogs: a German Shepherd resisted the urge to attack a cat that was placed in front of it.

In its appeal to the media, the Interior Ministry appeared to acknowledge that the OMON’s reputation had been dented after its heavy-handed response to a number of opposition rallies earlier this year.

This is display that Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Sukhodolsky hoped would convince the media to “cover the OMON more objectively”? Nice.

I bet it totally looked like this. Without the snow, of course.

Awesome. Totally awesome.