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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.

Zhirinovsky Pays for Outburst

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Oh, how the times have passed!  It seems like only yesterday that the Russian Presidential elections were in full predictable swing. Dmitri Medvedev was set to be President of all Russia.  Operation Successor was all coming together without a hitch.

This is not to say that there wasn’t any excitement in this rather dull political ritual.  There was . . . thanks to Vladimir Zhirinovsky.  He’s always ready to don his jester hat and provide the electorate with a taste of melodrama. One of Zhirik’s best performances was on that fateful day February 20, 2008.  Do you remember dear reader?  Zhirinovsky certainly will.  Now he’s paying for it.  Literally.

Yesterday, the Moscow Nikulinsky District Court ordered that Zhirinovsky pay Nikolai Gotsa 30,000 rubles ($1,200) for verbally and physically attacking him during a televised discussion on Zvezda.  During the “discussion,” Gotsa accused the LDPR leader of playing a double political game and betraying his supporters.  Zhirinovsky constantly criticized the Kremlin, Gotsa charged, but his LDPR always voted for its legislation. That’s when Zhirik lost his marble.  “Either he shuts up or I will leave the studio because I cannot sit in the same room with imbeciles, this typical idiot, lunatic, just look into his eyes. In the State Duma, my dear moron of a Presidential candidate, we vote how we see it necessary.  This is the LDPR and I am its leader.  And you, you scoundrel, and I will never allow you to say who betrays what.  This party is 20 years old and millions of people have voted for it.  And not even one percent has voted for your party of morons and lunatics!”  Even in the heat of madness, Zhirik had a point.  What happened next, well the video above tells it all.

Representatives from Gotsa’s Democratic Party immediately called for Zhirik’s removal from the Presidential race but to no avail.  Less than one percent doesn’t get you any political clout. So Gotsa sued. He didn’t get the 1 million rubles ($40,000) he asked for but he did get $1200 out of the clown.

Zhririnovsky’s lawyers told Interfax that they were satisfied with the ruling.  Of course they were.  That’s cump change for a guy who essentially owns a political party and runs it like a family business. Plus, I’m sure that for a showman like Zhirik, $1200 is totally worth entertaining his adoring public.

Isn’t it about time to give Zhirinovsky his own a show?  I know I’d watch.