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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.

More on the Attack in Angarsk

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New information has come out about the attack on a camp of antifa environmental activists on Saturday. The violent raid sent eight to the hospital, one of which, Ilya Borodayenko, 26, died of head injuries. Police have since issued eight arrest warrants and have detained 20 suspects. All of the perpetrators are under the age of 22, are students or are unemployed. Police are charging the suspects with “hooliganism” and “intentional grievous bodily harm resulting in death.”

Since news of the attack broke there has been speculation whether the attackers were Neo-nazis or local hooligans looking for “a bit of the old ultra-violence.” Witnesses say that the attackers raided the camp yelling nationalist and anti-Antifa slogans. At first, police firmly stated that there were no such nationalist or neo-fascist groups around Angarsk. According to RIA Novosti, police are now saying that the attack “was carried out by members of a local neo-Nazi group.” The motive for the attack also seems to more than your typical left-right violence. The Moscow Times says that prosecutors think the attack “was a revenge attack against anti-fascists who beat up a skinhead two weeks ago.” Others, like Vladimir Slivyak of the Russian environmental group Ecodefense, are distancing themselves from the antifa camp, claiming that the they had nothing to do with the protest, and that “This was a fight with anti-fascists, and it is very bad for us if now the media is reporting that fascists have been attacking environmentalists.” Yet the activists are from three different left wing groups–Autonomous Action, Rainbow Keepers, and Antifa–all of which are involved in the ecological protest at Angarsk.

But many, including the activists, see a connection between the attack and the protests against Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant. In a comment in Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, Galina Kozhevnikova of the SOVA Center, stated that

Personally I have a strong suspicion that the attack on the ecological camp in Angarsk is closely connected with the struggle around the Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant. It’s known that skinheads are very often employed in business turf wars (???????????? ????????). And if [such employment] is possible, why would it be hard to understand that such methods used against ecologists in an ecological camp protesting against the creation of an international nuclear center for the enrichment of uranium? Practically all of our radical ecologists are at the same time also Antifa. In the camp near Angarsk were the Rainbow Keepers and Autonomous Action. So there is nothing astonishing in the conflict itself.

Nevertheless, there is no evidence of a possible connection between the skinheads, the police, or those at Angarsk. So the speculation about the back story, if there is one, continues.

Thanks to mab for the translation of ???????????? ????????.