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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.

“I am not a slave and I am not cattle.”

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Khodorkovsky's Letter Page 1Khodorkovsky's Letter Page 2On its website, the radio station Ekho Moskvy features a letter from Mikhail Khodorkovsky on the upcoming Duma elections. Khodorkovsky’s letter was in response to one sent to him from a ZheZhe user newreft. A translation of Khodorkovsky’s response follows.


Thank you for the letter. I understand and share your opinion in regard to the elections. They (the elections) will obviously be a predictable victory for ER [United Russia]. Moreover, ER with its satellites will gain a constitutional majority in the Duma, but the chances are that the liberal parties will not completely collapse.

Such is the present political reality.

Does this mean that isn’t necessary to vote at all?

I know Kasyanov in particular holds such an opinion but I cannot agree with him on this question.

The bureaucracy, and today it is exactly our main opponent, feels fine in social apathy. For it this is a confirmation of its monopolistic right to rule the country according to its own discretion. That is to say that the readiness of the citizen to give his vote, his fate to a far off bureaucrat (chinovnik) testifies in their eyes to the utter uselessness of taking the people’s opinion into consideration.

That is, who votes “with their feet”, still to a large degree is who votes for ER, and encourages the bureaucratic class toward despotism and contempt for the “herd.”

Therefore it is imperative that you vote not for those who evoke contempt, it’s better to vote for any of the small parties. This will be Your own clear and personal gesture: I am a citizen, I have the right to vote and will, I am not a slave and I am not cattle.


Mikhail Khodorkovsky