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.

Living High on the Svin’ia

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The Russian financial magazine Finans has published more proof that capitalism under Putin is doing just fine. Fine for the Russia elite that is. Over the last year, Finans reports in its yearly tally of Russian super rich, the number of Russian billionaires has shot from 61 to 101. Their combined wealth comes to $715.3 billion and the top ten have a total wealth of $221 billion. Here are the top five richest Russians:

1. Oleg Deripaska, $40 billion, sole owner of Basic Element and chairman of Russian Aluminum.
2. Roman Abramovich, $23 billion, owner of Millhouse Capital and governor of Chukotka.
3. Vladimir Lisin, $22.2 billion, chairman of Novolipetsk Steel.
4. Mikhail Fridman, $22.2 billion, one of the main holders in Alfa Group.
5. Aleksei Mordashov, $22.1 billion, chairman of Severstal.

Finance and metals are what feeds the coffers of Russia’s super rich. Those and a good dose of political connections.

An even more interesting statistic is that Russia only trails the United States in the number of billionaires. There are over 400 American billionaires according to Forbes. Their net worth is around $1.54 trillion as of 2007. What are the sources of wealth for the top five richest Americans? The list includes Bill Gates ($59 billion), Warren Buffet ($52 billion), Sheldon Adelson ($28 billion), Lawrence Ellison ($26 billion), and Sergei Brin ($18.5 billion). Technology, investment and hotels/casinos serve as their sweet meats.