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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.

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.

Politkovskaya Murder Far from Over

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Russian authorities announced yesterday that the investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya is complete.  Or at least one leg of it.  Three suspects will be charged with being accomplices in the murder: Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, a former detective with the Moscow Department to Combat Organized Crime, and the brothers Makhmudov, Dzhabrail and Ibrahim.  All three are Chechens.  In addition, to the three, Pavel Ryaguzov, a former senior detective for the Moscow FSB is accused of abusing his position. Ryaguzov provided Politkovskaya’s home address to an old friend, Shamil Buraev.  He passed the information to a childhood friend Lom-Ali Gaitukaev, who then gave it to the Makhmudovs, who are his nephews.  What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.

Ryaguzov claims he didn’t know Politkovskaya’s murder was in the making.  As for Gaitukaev, he was convicted earlier this year for the attempted murder of Gennady Korban, a Ukrainian financier with the company Privat.  He will sit in a cell for 13 years.  Finally, the third Makhmudov brother, Rustam, is still wanted by the police.

As you can see from the above list of people and their connections, the Russian authorities have a web of players, but still no killer or the murder’s contractor.

Sergei Sokolov, the editor of Politkovskaya’s paper, Novaya gazeta, stated that if you read the announcement closely, you’ll notice that the investigation is only completed into the named individuals.  The overall inquiry is far from over since  the killer and contractor still remain on the loose.  This view was reiterated in an editorial on the paper’s website.

Central to Novaya‘s statement is who, for what purpose, and more importantly in whose interests was information about the investigaton leaked which might have allowed the killer, who is believed to either be Rustam Makdmudov or closely connected to him, to flee Russia and the murder’s contractor to cover his footprints? Back in April, published a photo of Rustam Makhmudov, which Novaya believes was done intentionally to warn him that the police were on the hunt.  And where might the source of the leak reside?  Why in none other than someone in the FSB.

As for the truth of how this last assertion will pan out, that remains to be seen.