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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.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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Two references to Russia being the next Nazi Germany in two days. The one from the left came yesterday. Fortunately, Daniel Silva is no intellectual heavy hitter and his Russia paranoia is likely to quietly dissipate into the ether.

Today’s however comes from someone who carries a big intellectual bat.  Namely, the ever loving Richard Pipes.  Pipes needs no introduction.  His Russophobia is well documented in print and Cold Warrior service. Always willing to challenge evil everywhere, Pipes has joined the Russia as Fascist bandwagon. Need proof? Just look at his letter to the Financial Times where he compares Russia’s behavior toward Georgia as akin to “Germany’s aggression against Czechoslovakia.” Here is the letter in full:

Sir, Peter J. Rooney (Letters, July 17) urges us to abandon the “insignificant statelet” of “tiny Georgia” to Russian aggression because its defence may lead to a military confrontation with Russia. This advice reminds me of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s willingness in the autumn of 1938 to sacrifice “tiny” Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany because it was a “quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing”.

As it soon turned out, Germany’s aggression against Czechoslovakia was a prelude to her invasion of Poland, which unleashed the second world war. Aggressive large powers tend to begin their expansion with “insignificant statelets” in order to test the world’s reaction before going after bigger fish. I think Russia’s behaviour toward Georgia fits this pattern. It should not be ignored.

Richard Pipes,
Cambridge, MA 02138, US

Fascism is just the gift that keeps on giving.  It’s no surprise Pipes the Elder has joined the “Fascism Beware!” choir considering that his son, Daniel, is one the “intellectual” architects of “islamo-fascism” (following Lefty gone Righty Christopher Hitchens, who coined the term).

Is your washroom breeding Fascists, Messrs Pipes?