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.

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

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“Belligerent nationalism, xenophobia, appeals to violence and ethnic hatred have always been and will always be a time bomb under our sovereignty,” Putin told the heads of the Interior Ministry today. This is quite a frank admission on the part of Putin, who has often been accused using nationalism and xenophobia to the Kremlin’s political advantage.

Putin’s statement is rooted in reality. On Tuesday, the SOVA Center released new stats on hate crimes in Russia. Once again they show that racial violence is on the rise. SOVA recorded 67 deaths and 550 injured as a result of racism, xenophobia and nationalism, a 13 percent increase from 2006. The bulk of the victims were students and immigrants laborers from Africa, Asia, Jews, and even antifa activists.

It already appears that 2008 will be just as racially violent. SOVA has already recorded 39 victims of neo-Nazi violence for January. Thirteen of the 39 resulted in death. As SOVA head Galina Kozhevnikova told reporters, “Neo-Nazis are out not to beat up (their victims), but to kill.”

SOVA’s report comes just as police in Yakaterinburg have arrested a gang of eight skinhead youths suspected of committing 37 murders. I look forward to Buster’s promised elaboration on this case on his blog, Moscow Through Brown Eyes. In Moscow, the body of a Kyrgyz man was found dead with more than 30 stab wounds. Stabbings are the hallmark of skinheads.

And the bomb ticks on . . .