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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.

Ossetian Numbers Game

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How many Ossetians died as the result of Georgia’s attack?  The numbers have been a constant point of speculation over the last two weeks.  In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Russia claimed 1,600-2,000 deaths.  By 21 August the Financial Times was reporting that the Russians could only confirm 133 civilian deaths, though Boris Salmakov of the Russian prosecutor’s office warned that the number could climb. Human Rights Watch claimed that only 44 deaths based on an interview with a doctor from the main hospital in Tskhinvali. Nevertheless, the 133 remained the accepted number in the Western press.

Now that accepted number should be revised.  According to Teimuraz Khugaev, head prosecutor for the South Ossetian government, the number now stands at 1,692 dead and about 1,500 wounded.  However, he added that “Information about new burials come to us every day.  It’s difficult for us to confirm all these figures.”

Time will tell if this number will stand or even be accepted.