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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.

Russia Mauls England’s Lions in Moscow

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By Ger Clancy , the Irishman

On the road from Sheremetyevo-2 to Moscow, a strange-looking monument sits awkwardly among the advertising hoardings and petrol stations. A huge lump of concrete with enormous spikes protruding, the anti-tank ‘Yozh’ (hedgehog) marks the closest the Germans got to Moscow in December 1941. It’s a symbol of not only how near the Wehrmacht got to the capital, it’s also a reminder that plenty of foreigners have come here with lofty plans of domination and got brutally sent back to where they came from, tail between legs.

Last night the England football team became the latest member of that grouping. And for one of the few times since its birth, the Russian Sbornaya was dishing out the punishment to a major football power.

The omens were bad for England right from the outset. Before kick off at least five of their supporters had been injured in scuffles. Around 4,000 England fans had traveled to Moscow for the match, amid warnings by their embassy not to wear face-paint and avoid displays of their allegiance on the streets prior to the game.

Throughout the week the English press talked endlessly about the synthetic surface being used at Luzhniki but to his credit, the England coach Steve McClaren wrote it off as an excuse. He may have wished he’d said nothing. For the first time in years an international match at Luzhniki had a sell-out crowd, guaranteeing a hostile reception for the English. Russian coach Hiddink made a number of changes from the team that was thumped at Wembley a month ago, most notably dropping goalkeeper Malafeev for Gabulov. Malafeev had a nightmare against England and Hiddink is not a man renowned for hesitation in difficult team selections.

However, on the field, England couldn’t have started better. They controlled the play in midfield and took the lead deservedly after 29 minutes. A high ball was allowed to bounce in the Russian box by Vasilii Berezutski and Rooney latched on to the dropping ball to lash a rasping shot high into the top corner beyond a helpless Gabulov. It was no more than England deserved and the Russians were now looking in deep trouble.

The game turned on a number of incidents in the first 25 minutes of the second half. Not long after the restart Steven Gerrard missed a gilt-edged chance, blasting wide with only Zurabov to beat. Then Micah Richards forced a good save from Gabulov when he really should have scored, shooting tamely from only 8 yards out. The moment of the game came on the 69th minute. Rooney rashly pulled down Zyrianov just outside the England box, but the forward fell down into the box. The referee incorrectly gave a penalty and Russia a lifeline, which substitute Pavluchenko gratefully accepted, blasting into Robinson’s right-hand corner. Now level, Russia pressed forward and when four minutes later Robinson could only parry Arshavin’s shot, Pavluchenko pushed home the rebound past a despairing Richards on the goal-line. Russia held on to the lead in modest comfort and greeted the final whistle with jubilation and smiles, something not previously associated with the Sbornaya, and rapturous celebrations in the stands.

The postmortem is already underway in England, focusing mainly on McClaren’s persistence with blundering goalkeeper Robinson, as well as throwing away a relatively comfortable lead. For Russia, however, all is bright. If Russia wins their next two games, against Israel and Andorra, they will qualify for Euro 2008, sensationally dumping England out in the process. Although the trip to Tel-Aviv will not be easy, the Russians are in control of their own destiny and will wallop Andorra. Hiddink’s magic appears to be rubbing off at last, and although the Sbornaya are by no means cured of all their ills, they are finally off the life-support. For England a miserable trip home beckons, and like the Werhmacht and Le Grande Armee before them, they leave Moscow defeated and mortally wounded.