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.

“Russia is not progressing”

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Number 144. That’s what Reporters sans frontieres ranks Russia in its new annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index. According to RSF, the index is complied from questionnaires sent to 15 freedom of expression organizations and a network of 130 correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists, and human rights activists around the world. The index ranks 169 nations.

Russia’s ranking is surely nothing to be proud of, especially considering Russia’s indexed neighbors. The five states ranked above Russia are Azerbaijan (139), Sudan (140), Singapore (141), Afghanistan (142), and Yemen (143). The five states Russia looks down on are Tunisia (145), Egypt (146), Rwanda (147), Saudi Arabia (148), and Zimbabwe (149). As a whole, being sandwiched between these ten states makes Russia the rotten meat in a moldy press freedom sandwich.

As for why Russia ranked so low, RSF said this: “Russia is not progressing. Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in October 2006, the failure to punish those responsible for murdering journalists, and the still glaring lack of diversity in the media, especially the broadcast media, weighed heavily in the evaluation of press freedom in Russia.” Once again, the Politikovskaya murder hangs over Russia’s international standing like a bit lead albatross.