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.

Welcome to the Jungle

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Here’s another eXile update courtesy of Ames in Radar. The Russian liberal media tempest is swirling overhead. Is The eXile the next Cindy Sheehan of the Russian opposition? Getting the attention of the Russian government is bad enough. But becoming a potential poster child for a desperate Russian opposition? If I was Ames I would head for zee hills. Read for yourself:

Today is “Russia Day.” It’s the official holiday when Russians celebrate their independence—from their own empire. On June 12, 1990, the Russian Republic’s parliament passed a resolution declaring “sovereignty” from the USSR, paving the way for Russia to “free” itself from the 14 other republics it had spent centuries conquering. It would be like Mexico celebrating February 2, 1848—the day Santa Anna was forced to sign away California and the entire Southwest to the gringos—as “Mexico Day.”

Which may explain why Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti grimly announced, “Unfortunately, the name of this holiday disorients the people completely.”

Whatever. Today’s a holiday, so I should relax and enjoy the party and forget about the fact that I’m under attack. For the celebration here in Moscow, the Kremlin is flying in none other than former French president Jacques Chirac, so that Medvedev can pin a medal on the old whore’s saggy man-boobs, to honor his “contribution to promoting Russian culture”—exactly what my paper is accused of not doing properly enough. I guess you don’t get Kremlin medals when you headline your paper that you “dare to fart in Russia’s face.” But that doesn’t explain why Chirac would agree to make such a complete ass out of himself on the world stage. It would be like flying to Riyadh so the king could honor you with a “Female Driving Instructor of the Year” sash.

Perhaps Chirac came just for the after-party. Now that Medvedev is the new tsar, he has the authority to hire his favorite band to play at his Red Square Russia Day party—and wouldn’t you know, he chose none other than Uriah Heep to rock the Kremlin walls down. If you’ve never heard of Uriah Heep—and 99 percent of you haven’t—you’re missing out: They’re a real-life Spinal Tap classic-rock outfit that packs stadiums from Smolensk to Kamchatka, even though they couldn’t land a gig on open-mike night in a Tuscaloosa saloon. True to their Spinal Tap calling, Uriah Heep pulled out of their Red Square gig today at the last minute, fucking up Medvedev’s classic rawk party, which their website blames on the “tour promoters [sic] complete lack of adherence to contractual stipulations.” I can imagine how the Heep fell out with their promoters: “You call this a sandwich, huh, Vladimir? I don’t want this! Because, look, you have to fold it like this, and then … no, it’s a fucking joke, really. I can’t do this, I won’t go to fucking Belarus if I can’t get a proper fucking sandwich.”

Read on . . .