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.

“A Danger to the Safety and Security of Russia”

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Novoe Vremya journalist Natalia Morar reports on her blog that she has been “officially designated as a danger to the safety and security of Russia.” Readers will remember that the Moldovan born, permanent Russian resident was refused reentry into Russia in December. According to Kommersant, when she tried to enter Russia through Domodedovo airport, border officers informed her that “her presence in Russia was “undesirable” and they were acting on a directive of the “central apparatus of the FSB.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if this is true. Morar is known for articles detailing corruption within the Russian political elite. She has recently turned her pen to the current “Siloviki War.” In a recent article on that subject she detailed the various factions and infighting between members of Russia’s various security organs over the right to preserve Russia’s “order.” The “Siloviki War” is clearly about a lot of things–power, corruption, and theft. But is also about a long standing fight in Russia between “legality” and “security.” Or to put it clearer, the grand notion that the FSB and other organs should work according to the rule of law and not practice unfettered “gangsterism.” Clearly someone within the clans is talking to Morar and using her pen to wage a PR war against their rivals. Therefore its not surprising that her aticles would piss someone off enough to designate her persona non grata in Russia.

But until now Morar didn’t receive an official explanation why she isn’t allowed back in Russia. She finally got an answer the other day. An official letter from the Russian embassy in Moldova stated that she was barred from Russia under Article 27, Section 1 “On the manner of exiting and entering the Russian Federation.” The article states:

Article 27: Entry into the Russian Federation is denied to a foreign citizen or a person without citizenship in cases if:

It is necessary for providing safety and security of the state, or preserving public order, or the defense of the population’s health.

“This is simply hilarious,” she writes. “Can someone explain to me how a 24 year old female journalist can be called a danger to security of such a strong state like Russia?”

Good question.