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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.

Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case

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It didn’t take long for someone to benefit from charging Andrei Lugovoi for Litvinenko’s murder. The documentary Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case is slated to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this Saturday. According to the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, who is also a friend of Litvinenko, the documentary will “give audiences an insight into the minds of those who killed him.” “It’s for the police and prosecutors where the trail of polonium leads,” he told the Associated Press. “What is important is to understand the motives and the context.”

Nekrasov says that arrangements to have the film premiere at Cannes were decided three weeks ago. For some reasons the festival’s organizers kept the news from the public. I can’t say the reason was political pressure,” Mr. Nekrasov said. “They do this sort of surprise screening sometimes.” Variety states that “the festival got its hands the documentary just days before this year’s event got under way, hence organizers decision to announce it mid fest.”

Well I don’t know if I would call it “political pressure.” It’s more like opportunism. Litvinenko has been out of the news for months and yesterday’s revelation is a perfect opportunity for Cannes to capitalize on. Be sure Rebellion can expect a packed theater. Nekrasov, his co-director Olga Konskaya, and Litvinenko’s widow Marina are expected to attend the screening.

As to what viewers should expect from the film. Nekrasov says that

the film would give audiences an insight into the minds of those who killed him. “It’s for the police and prosecutors where the trail of polonium leads,” he said. “What is important is to understand the motives and the context.”

The film draws on footage of Mr. Litvinenko shot over four years, as well as interviews with his widow, Marina, and others. “I’m not treating him uncritically,” Mr. Nekrasov said. “You know, I think people will be walking out with a very clear idea where my personal sympathies are, but I am trying to be objective — but also emotional. I wanted to make a documentary which goes beyond information, and which looks deeper into people’s motives — without which we will never understand why he was killed.”

It should come as no surprise that the film implicates Putin in Litvinenko’s murder. I guess that means more shots of Litvinenko as cancer kid. Damn.

In other Litvinenko news, oligarch-in-exile, Boris Berezovsky went on the BBC and pointed his finger, yet again, at Putin.

“It is impossible to produce polonium without state support and impossible to transport polonium … without state support,” he said.

“It can’t have happened without his (Putin’s) personal involvement and that’s exactly what Alexander (Litvinenko) told me in the hospital.”

‘Because of that, Lugovoy will never be extradited to London, and on the other hand I think Lugovoy’s life is in danger, because it is an absolutely typical KGB way to solve the problem, to kill the witness of the crime,’ said Berezovsky, who gave the interview during a visit to Israel.

For some reason this song sounds familiar. Anyway, it just might be possible to obtain and transport polonium without state support when you have the personal income of a small state. I’m surprised the British just don’t hand Berezovsky to the Russians just so he will shut up.