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.

Extremism Bill Passes Round Two

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New amendments to Russia’s extremist law passed a second reading yesterday. The amendments which are touted as targeting nationalists and skinheads has raised alarm among political oppositionists who see it as yet another weapon in the State’s arsenal in preparation for the 2008 Presidential Elections.

Among others things, the bill has measures to fine publishers who print material deemed “extremist” up to $4000. Explains the Moscow Times,


The publishing industry could also be affected by a new provision that was added to the bill before its second reading. The provision says that if media outlets refer to groups that have been banned for extremism, the outlets must mention the fact that those groups have been banned. The provision appears similar to an initiative last year to prevent media outlets from referring to the unregistered National Bolshevik Party.

Newspeak in its finest form. Such and such organization only exists as the State deems them.

The Duma’s actions come at the same time the Interior Ministry arrested Maxim “Tesak” Martsinkevich after he and 20 others interrupted a debate between journalists Maxim Kononenko and Yulia Latynina at the Moscow bobo literati caf? Bilingua. Martinkevich is the leader of the neo-Nazi group Format 18. decribing the incident, Latynina told Kommersant, “It looked completely comical. Twenty brutes in camouflage came in at the height of the discussion, gave the Nazi salute and began to yell, We’ll cut up liberals.’ There were plenty of liberals around, but they didn’t cut anyone. Instead they left again like cowards.” Ilya Yashin added, “Tesak screamed that he plans to kill more Tajiks, blacks and liberals, then he and his companions stated chanting Nazi slogans.”

The NTV report on Martsinkevich’s arrest can be viewed here.

Can’t say I have any sympathy for Martsinkevich. For once I stand with the Interior Ministry.

Update: I forgot to add that Tesak was arrested under article 282, section 2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, “Incitement of Ethnic Strife with the Threat of the Use of Violence.” Conviction caries a prison sentence of 3-5 years.