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 “Ultra-Nationalism” on the Rise

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Russian nationalism is gaining in political influence argues the Financial Times.  Russia’s so-called “ultra-nationalists” (and I do wonder what the difference is between nationalism and its “ultra-” variety) have been steadily climbing in political influence, particularly among Russia’s elite.  Their big political bump has come with Russia success in Georgia which proved to them that Russia was indeed back.  The FT reports,

Against the backdrop of conflict in Georgia and deteriorating relations with the west, Russia’s ultra-nationalist thinkers are starting to exert unprecedented influence. The wide acceptance of a group of ideas once dismissed as laughable signals a new era in Russia’s foreign relations, as Moscow seeks to protect what President Dmitry Medvedev calls a “region of privileged interest” in parts of the former Soviet Union.

One of Russia’s chief theorists of Euraisanism, Aleksandr Dugin agrees with this political shift.  He told the FT,

“The people that formed the centre under [former president, now prime minister Vladimir] Putin will now become marginal. And another pole will appear that did not exist under Putin at all. That is the army, the military and patriotic movements. That is us. Under Putin we were the extremists: respectable, yes, but radicals. Now we are moving right into the centre.”

I’m not too familiar with Eurasianism or Dugin, but the a recent LA Times interview gives a sample of his take on current events.