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.

Back Online (Finally)

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The past five days have been an utter nightmare.  On Thanksgiving morning I got an email from my hosting company, BlueHost, saying that they unceremoniously pulled the plug on my account.  There was no warning.  No clear explanation.  The email they sent said, “It has come to our attention that your site is using an extreme amount of resources on our servers and network.”  I had no idea what this meant and calls to their technicians offered no explanation. I was constantly referred to their terms of service agreement, which like most legal documents is littered with vague and roundabout ways of saying that they can do what they want, when they want. One tech even told me that my account was “deactivated” by order of the president of the company.  I didn’t believe him since each of the five techs I talked to gave me a different answer. Apparently it was true.

I was left at a total loss all weekend.  What would cause my little blog using “an extreme amount of resources”?  What does all of this Internet-ese even mean?  Was the site hacked?  Are there FSB spooks out to get me?  No tea, thank you.

I was unable to get a hold of BlueHost’s Abuse department until Monday morning because of the holiday. They told me that there was something in my site that downed their entire shared hosting network.  The president of the company was notified and he gave the ukaz to axe me.  My immediate question: “Is he Russian?”  He isn’t. And no they weren’t going to restore my account.  BlueHost wanted no part of me.  And at this point I wanted no part of them. I had to pack my bags and go elsewhere. The only question was where?

I eventually signed up for a Virtual Private Server with InMotion. Yesterday was a elementary crash course in the difference between Shared Servers, Virtual Private Servers, and Dedicated Servers.  Words like SQL Databases, phpAdmin, and Cpanel are now part of my everyday vocabulary.  I must have called tech support 10 times.  All of that and I still barely understand what the hell is going on.

I’m just happy that the site is now back up.  Thanks to InMotion for their assistance.  Thanks to everyone who sent emails asking where I went.  A pox on BlueHost for ruining my holiday weekend.

Now back to the regularly scheduled program . . .