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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.

Cutting Smoke and Smashing Mirrors

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The Litvinenko Affair continues to be the story that just won’t go away. Perhaps for good reason. The British and Russians have done a lot of diplomatic posturing as a result. So much so that it’s appropriate to say that Litvinenko’s death was the beginning of a renewed souring between the two nations. Now 18 months later, it is still difficult mention Britain and Russia in the same sentence without conjuring Litvinenko’s ghost.

There is no need to recount the official narrative of the story. Anyone who’s been following knows its Hollywood-esque spy vs. spy twists and turns well enough already. But more people are beginning to ask questions about this celluloid narrative; questions that strive to cut through the smoke and smash the mirrors of conventional wisdom.

Edward Jay Epstein’s article in the New York Sun pioneered of this questioning. Now Mary Dejevsky of the Independent is following Epstein’s lead. She asks: “The [conventional] explanation is neat, self-contained and entirely plausible. But is it the truth, or anything like the truth?” Dejevsky then plots out five clusters of questions:

Consider the questions that remain open almost 18 months after Litvinenko’s death. There are a great many of them; some overlap, but they are roughly divisible into five clusters.

The most obvious relate to the polonium-210 that was identified as the cause of his illness just before he died. Then there is the role of Andrei Lugovoi. The Crown Prosecution Service says it has enough evidence to charge with murder, but the only third party to have seen the papers, Edward Epstein, says the case is extremely thin. Third, there are the mysterious activities of Litvinenko himself. The fourth cluster of questions concerns the part, if any, played by the British secret services, and, last, the role of the exiled Russian oligarch, the enigmatic Boris Berezovsky.

Her attempt to provide soluble answers follows. Check it out.