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.

Wither Nashi?

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For those interested in Nashi, I recommend listening to this interview with Dr. Regina Heller from the University of Hamburg Institute for Peace and Research (a recent article of hers on Nashi can be found here).  I think Heller’s discussion serves as as good primer for understanding the many aspects to the pro-Kremlin group.  I find it puzzling that the interviewer is surprised that the state is mobilizing youth for support.  She seems to think that youth are somehow inherently against the state and for change.  This must be some kind of post-1960s myth because historically youth have more often than not been used for rallying nationalist and pro-government support.  Groups like the Boys’ Brigades, Boy Scouts, Wandervogel, Hitler Youth, and Komsomol were not known for their anti-government rhetorics.

One issue Heller timely takes up is whether Nashi’s days are numbered since it’s “served its purpose” and is now “politically obsolete” for the Kremlin.  I don’t agree with this. Nashi may be in crisis (interestingly not unlike like the Komsomol was after the Russian Civil War) and is searching for its role in Medvedev’s Russia. I think I would count on its death anytime soon. Especially if Lyndon is correct and “colored revolution” continues to be a specter that haunts the political elite.

[podcast]http://se1.isn.ch/serviceengine/Files/E7011820-C13E-A79A-0391-4329C1003DFA/95750/en/Heller.mp3[/podcast]