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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.

Berezovsky Assassin Foiled

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Just in time. The widely read British tabloid, the Sun, is reporting that agents from MI5 and MI6 foiled the assassination of Boris Berezovsky at the Hilton Hotel on London’s Park Lane. Here is how John Kay of the Sun describes things:

He sought to shoot exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky — who has called for the violent overthrow of Russian president Vladimir Putin — in the back of the head.

The assassin was accompanied by a CHILD in a cold-blooded attempt to avoid raising suspicion.

But MI5 and MI6 intercepted intelligence about the plot — due to have been carried out within the last fortnight.

And the hitman was seized before he could open fire.

The murderous mission was revealed 24 hours after Britain ordered the expulsion of four Russian diplomats. (Emphasis the Sun‘s)

Using the child as a cover to “blend into the background” the would-be assassin tried to lure Berezovsky into a meeting room in the Hilton. The assassin’s name or the child’s has yet to be revealed. Security officials denied a direct link the current crisis over Andrei Lugovoi’s extradition. As we all know, reasons of off Berezovsky are plenty enough. And apparently there have already been several attempts. BAB told BBC’s Newsnight that “There were several attempts to kill me in this country,” adding that “Scotland Yard pay a lot of attention to my protection and I’m happy about that.”

According to Berezovsky, British intelligence informed him three weeks ago of the plot and advised him to leave the country. “I was advised by the police to leave the country if I could. I went overseas for a week and then the police informed me that I could return,” he told reporters. The announcement, however, is perfect timing as relations between Russia and Britain are in a tailspin over the “Litvinenko Affair.” The announcement of an attempt on Berezovsky’s life will only add fuel to the fire.

I doubt this will be the last we’ve heard of this new twist in the saga.