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.

Johnny Depp as Young Stalin?

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I have yet to read Simon Sebag Montefiore’s acclaimed Young Stalin.  Now I might not have to.  According to the Guardian, Montefiore has signed a contract with Miramax, producer Alison Owen of Elizabeth fame, and screenwriter John Hodge of Trainspotting to do a celluloid version of the book. Not a bad follow-up to receiving the Costa Book Award for Best Biography of 2007.

The real question is who should play the young Stalin?  If it was up to Montefiore, Koba’s salad days in the revolutionary underground would be played by none other that Johnny Depp.  “If it’s not done in Georgian, Johnny Depp would be perfect for the lead role,” he told reporters.

Given the supposed attention Montefiore gives to Koba’s many love affairs, Depp sounds like a perfect choice to play the Georgian Don Juan turned Communist dictator.