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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.

Elections Dagestani Style

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Kommersant has published more about the incident involving SPS candidate Nukha Nukhov in Dagestan. Here are some additional details from the story. As a result of the fight between Nukhov and Mohammed Aliev on 11 March, 1700 SPS votes were annulled from the election without a quorum of regional election officials but by United Russia fiat.

Fast forward to now. Four of Aliev’s brothers–Bahamed, Nabrihulla, Ali, and Mukhtar–are all standing trial for the deaths of two of Nukhov’s comrades. Mohammed Aliev was not included in the indictment. The trial of the four is what prompted Nukhov to come out of hiding and return to Dagestan. But, unfortunately for him, he was arrested on his way. According to a representative from SPS, Nukhov was arrested in a search which was prompted by a complaint by one of Aliev’s security guards. The latter claims that Nukhov wounded him in the March brawl. That was what reason prosecutors gave for slapping him with charges of “hooliganism, causing bodily injury, and possession of weapons.” Soon there after hundreds of Nukhov’s comrades rallied for his immediate release in the town square.

The local MVD denied that Nukhov arrest was politically motivated, and even local SPS leader, Iurii Gladkov was “careful in his comments.” He too denied that the arrest was connected with Nukhov’s political activities.

Other local parties disagree. For example, there’s the mysterious murder of local Yabloko leader Farid Babev. LDPR candidate Hadzhimurad Omarov says that he’s received “pressure” to drop out the elections. Just Russia candidate Abdulhamid Emirhamzaev also claims that his comrades and family members have been threatened by “security forces.” Only the local KPRF leader, Murzadin Avezov, says not a single member of his has been touched. But he added, “The Party of Power has administrative resources which render a competitive fight null and void.”

Such is the context that Duma elections will take place in Dagestan.