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.

Executed Today

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I got an email this morning about a new blog called Executed Today.  The blog, according to its introductory entry, seeks to provide “an unrepresentative but arresting view of the human condition across time and circumstance from the parlous vantage of the scaffold.”  It’s no surprise that Russia will figure prominently an the the site’s daily chronicles of executions pile up.  In fact, it already has one Russia related execution as part of its theme Spies.  Today we have Sidney Reilly, British spy and the inspiration for James Bond, who was executed on 5 November 1925 for his attempting to organize a coup against the Soviet government.  Reilly didn’t fair as well as his fictional counterpart and was shot in a forest outside of Moscow.  I’m told that Wednesday’s entry will feature the Soviet spy Richard Sorge who was hanged in Japan.  Check it out.