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.

Personality Cash Cow

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T-minus three days and counting.  Russians will go to the polls on Sunday to cast their votes for a new President.  But one shouldn’t get to carried away with the casting votes part.  Yes, Russians will vote, but no one has any doubt who the victor will be. Dmitri Medvedev will be the third President of the Russian Federation.

And it seems that Russians have been getting ready since Putin anointed him successor in December.  According to the Moscow Times, bureaucrats and businessmen have been furiously snatching up portraits of Medvedev.  Photo shop owner Vladimir Tyshko is cashing in on the pre-election rush.  As the MT says,

“Since it was announced that Medvedev was the official successor, we immediately started getting inquiries about him, and now Medvedev has really overtaken Putin in sales,” said Vladimir Tyshko, who sells photographic portraits of politicians.

“With the elections approaching, Medvedev is selling very well: About 70 percent of people want portraits of Medvedev, and 30 percent want Putin now. Before Putin was of course the absolute leader by sales; now it is Medvedev,” Tyshko said.

Tyshko’s Internet shop, www.vRamke.ru, sells a giant 1.2 meter-high Medvedev portrait for 20,000 rubles ($800). Smaller portraits, showing a benevolent-looking Medvedev, go for 2,000 rubles.

Kinda reminds me of the Staples Center jersey shop right after the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol.  I’m sure Gasol has been out selling Kobe since.

Poor Putin.  He’s yesterday’s news.  Last year’s champion.   A washed up Personality Cult.  And shops just can’t move them As one clerk in a Moscow bookshop told the Moscow Times, “The Medvedev ones have sold out. Buy the Putin one — he is still the boss.”

Putin!?  Why settle for less when there’s a new kid in town.