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.

Russian Evangelicals Target South Park

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The Russian Extremism Law has found a new target: South Park.  The notorious Basmanny court announced that the show “bore signs of extremist activity” in response to a motion filed by the Moscow city prosecutors office.  The Prosecutors office charged twelve cartoons, South Park, The Simpsons, Family Guy (translated into Russian as the Griffins), Metalocalypse, Drawn Together (translated into Russian as Multreality), Lenore the Cute Little Dead Girl, Angry Kid, and others with “promot[ing] violence and cruelty, pornography, anti-social behavior, abound with scenes of mayhem, the infliction of physical and ethical suffering, and are aimed at invoking fear, panic and terror in children. . . Practically all the cartoons exploit the topic of suicide, and characters demonstrate readiness to risk their lives for the sake of deriving extreme sensations.”

Well, yes.  That’s why they’re funny.

What is missing from most reports in the English press is that the request to look into South Park came from a Russian evangelical group.  According to Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, “The prosecutor’s claim was proceeded by a request from Protestants from the Union of Russian Christians of Evangelical Faith (ROSKhVE) who demanded the opening of a criminal case against the channel (2×2) and prohibit the showing of the cartoon.” ROSKhVE began their campaign against South Park in March.  Here is a their open letter (Russian only).  What has caught the ire of ROSKhVE was South Park’s ridicule of religion, specifically the episode Mr. Hanky’s Christmas Classics.