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.

Yabloko Youth Detained and Complained

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Share on reddit reports that Ivan Bolshakov, the Moscow head of Yabloko Youth, was subjected to a criminal search and detention.  He has now been released from custody. Bolshakov was detained in the Kursk train station in Moscow as he and Ilya Yashin waited to board a train to Nizhny Novgorod for a pre-election trip.  According to Lenta:

They put Bolshakov in handcuffs, and after this they took him to the Ziuzinskii Interdistrict Prosecutor’s Office for questioning.  As his comrade in arms [Yashin] emphasized that according to existing law a candidate to the State Duma can only be detained with approval of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation.  The officers who conducted the criminal search did not have this.

Bolshakov’s detention, according to Yashin was because he was accused of assaulting a police officer during the Butovo protests in June 2007.  No charges have been filed against Bolshakov and Yabloko considers the accusations “a complete fabrication.”

Bolshakov’s brief detention comes right before Yabloko Youth submitted a complaint to the Central Elections Commission charging that the website is really a front for Putin and United Russia and not an independent project.  According to Russian electoral law, all election advertising must be paid with funds from political parties’ coffers.  United Russia would be violating the law if was registered as mass media.

Za Putina is run by Konstantin Rykov, who stands as United Russia’s candidate for Nizhni Novgorod, and features among other things airbrushed Putinist Realist photos of Putin, the faces of many Putin supporters, a game called “Putin Chess”, video, and other propaganda promoting all things Putin.  The site is slick indeed.  And since its establishment at the beginning of this month it has clocked over 70,000 pro-Putinites, the majority of whom come from Moscow.

“The site is obviously for agitational purposes, and its creators are obliged to pay for its activities from the electoral funds of United Russia.  Moreover, it’s clear that this internet portal is not a private initiative, but an expensive pre-electoral project.  There are video clips on the site that shape a positive image of the main candidate.  On the sites material Putin is presented as a hero,” Yashin told

Looks like the run up to the elections are shaping up as expected.