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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.

Has “STAND for Georgia” Passed Congress?

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Please see the update to this post.

I found a rather strange article on on how the US House and Senate passed the HR: 6911, the Stability and Democracy for Georgia Act of 2008, or STAND for Georgia, as it is also called. (Get it? STA for “stability,” N for “and,” and D for “democracy”. Rep. Howard Berman [D-CA] is so clever!) The bill which, according to section 6 of the bill will allocate $1 billion to Georgia for “urgent humanitarian needs,” “reconstruction,” “economic development,” and “governance.”  The bill authorizes $470 million for the 2008 fiscal year alone.

One would think that Congress doling out $1 billion to Georgia at the same time its desperately trying to plug the capitalist bleed with $700 billion tourniquet is a bit perverse.  Especially since if today’s markets are any indication, the US government’s upward redistribution of wealth doesn’t seem to be working.  Perhaps the fact that one stop measure here only produces a leak elsewhere is a sure sign that capital has no center.

Thankfully, perhaps Congress isn’t that perverse.  Despite Joshua Kucera’s claims that “the large spending bill that included the aid to Georgia passed the House of Representatives on September 23 and the Senate passed it four days later,” I can’t seem to find any official entry on the Congressional record to confirm it.  According to, the bill hasn’t seen any action since September 16 when it was introduced.

The only evidence Kucera provides to the bill’s passage is a few quotes from a nameless Congressional staff member.  He might want to go back and ask Nameless what s/he’s talking about.

If this bill has passed, and it’s only a question of when, I would certainly like to know if Congress is awarding Georgia for starting a war.