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.

Memorial Raid Ruled Unlawful

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The human rights organization Memorial was victorious in the Dzerzhinsky district court on Tuesday when Judge Andrei Shabakov ruled that the police raid on their office was “unlawful.”

The key issue driving Monday and Tuesday’s hearing was whether Memorial was given the right to have their lawyer present during the raid. Chief investigator Mikhail Kalganov argued that the organization was given the right to have a lawyer present but didn’t take advantage of it.  Memorial’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov argued that Iosif Gabuniia arrived at the office to monitor the search, but the police refused to open the door. Gabuniia testified in court that “We don’t need lawyers here” was shouted through the door.  Kalganov claimed that he wasn’t aware of any of this.  Nevertheless, the judge found that Kalganov’s actions, or lack thereof, prevented the lawyer from representing his client during the search.

The case isn’t over yet.  Authorities have yet to return the hard disks and other archival materials seized in the raid, prompting Memorial workers to remain cautious despite their legal victory. The court ruling goes into force only after 10 days and the police still have an opportunity to file an appeal.