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.

Golos Wins in Court

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A local branch of the Russian human rights group Golos Samara won a significant legal victory yesterday. According to Kommersant, the Russian Supreme Court ruled in favor of Golos in a suit filed by the Samara branch of the Federal Registration Office, FAS. FAS registers social, religious, and political organizations. The court ruled against the Samara office’s closure of Golos for six months in December. Local officials charged that Golos did not file documents describing its “activities, sources of finance, and election monitoring practices.” Liudmila Kuzmina, a Golos coordinator called the decision a “big victory.” “Chinovniki need to report that everything in the province is quiet and calm,” she said. “The Registration office, after having found imperfections in our documents, didn’t allow enough time for their removal. They immediately went to court forgetting about the notion of a legal person’s integrity.”

A victory for sure, but a bittersweet one. Golos Samara was taken out of both the Duma and Presidential election. I wonder if the Russian government is learning the power of the law. You can violate it for a short period of time, and then hand the victims a victory in court ex post facto. It’s a win-win for the state. It gets rid of pesky election watchers at the same time you show that you really do uphold the law.