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.

Whither LDPR?

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While the latest VTsIOM numbers demonstrate the continued collapse of Russian liberal parties, it seems that their not the only ones with a “dark cloud” hovering over their heads.  Political winds appear to be pushing Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s Liberal Democratic Party into the rocks.  As the Moscow Times summarizes:

One of its billionaire benefactors has jumped ship, while a second has disappeared and is wanted by the Prosecutor General’s Office, analysts say. In addition, Zhirinovsky’s right-hand man has left, and Alexei Mitrofanov, the party’s second most prominent member, announced last week that he was moving to A Just Russia, a pro-Kremlin party.

Still, Zhiri’s fervent nationalistic banter is expected to garner enough votes with among its mostly under 35 male demographic to slip into the State Duma.  Plus even without billionaire backing, the LDPR has enough cash to last through the election cycle.  This might prolong the LDPR’s collapse a little while longer.  Plus ever a political showman, Zhirinovsky will certainly not disappoint when backed against the wall.  While his party may soon be on its last electoral leg, I’m sure Zhiri will be around a long time hocking his brand of political buffoonery.