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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.

“Why can’t Russia have one too?”

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Chechen President and Moscow proxy Razman Kadyrov gave an interview to Kommersant. Here are a few of his choice statements.

Putin as President-for-life:

“Why can Kazakhstan have a president-for-life? Or Turkmenistan? Why can’t Russia have one too?”

Putin gave the Chechen people a second life! Allah appointed him to his place.”

“I am not the FSB‘s or the Main Intelligence Department’s man, I am Putin’s man. His policies, his word, for me is law. We are traveling his road. Putin saved our people, he is a hero. He not only saved us, he saved Russia. How can we not bow down before him as a person? I never liked to say pretty words in front of anyone, but Putin is God’s gift, he gave us freedom.


On Putin’s successor:

“A successor is a successor, but Putin is a personality.”

Kadyrov on Kadyrov:

“A cult of personality? Maybe in the good sense of the word. If I am carrying out the policy of the center, and 94-95 percent of the populace supports that policy and they hang some pictures somewhere, that doesn’t mean that it is a cult of personality. It means the right policy. If they burned the portraits and tore them up, that would be bad. But you see that, even if they hang the portrait of Putin or Kadyrov in the forest, no one will touch it. “

“I, Ramzan Akhmadovich Kadyrov, am the way I am. I cannot be any different.”

On the Opposition and Criticism:

“No, I don’t see one. If there is, I welcome it. Opposition. What is that?”

“Well… I was among the people not long ago, and a woman said to me, “I used to hate you, but now I see your actions and I welcome you.”

Kadyrov in third person:

“[Malik Saidullaev] didn’t know Kadyrov’s real policy.”

“It was a historically important step when Kadyrov united the people.”

“Anyone will tell you that Kadyrov has authority, that he is respected, that he is a leader.”