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.

Communist Circumlocution

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Kommersant Vlast‘ made an funny observation about the websites of Russian political parties.  Apparently the verbosity and the brevity of a party’s website is connected to their political orientation.  Those on the left are more verbose while those on the right are more terse.

The most verbose is the main page for the KPRF, a whole 2273 words.  Yabloko is in second place with 1237 words.  United Russia and Just Russia are almost twins with 875 and 840 words respectively.  The most concise site is the LDPR (unlike this party’s leader) with 409 words in all.

Forget what this says about the political spectrum.  I wonder what it says about how each party perceives the attention span of its supporters?

The KPRF might want to consider turning off the verbal valve.  Their site is a wordy mess. Clearly they’ve learned little about political technologies of the day.  The best way to appeal to voters is not to inundate them with stuff they have to read.  The days of crammed broad sheets are over.  If they really want to look at an effective site, they should check out Barack Obama’s.  Bright colors, smiling faces, lots of graphics and, most importantly, few words.  In fact, the thing that dominates the President-elect’s page most is merchandise. Create an image. Brand it. After that what you actually say is an secondary.  Now that’s political technology of the 21st century!