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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.

Overcharged Buttons

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resetbuttonYeah, yeah, I haven’t been blogging of late, but I hope to return at full throttle soon.  In the meantime I couldn’t resist mentioning a story in the NY Times about the US-Russia relations “reset button.”  We all now know that the Obama Administration is making some effort to repair relations with Russia.  The first sign came with Joe Biden’s “press the reset button” statement in February. Then earlier this week we learned that Obama sent a “secret letter” to Medvedev hoping to enlist Russia in dealing with Iran in exchange for scrapping the missile defense system in Eastern Europe.  The Russians received the letter coldly, and you can’t blame them.

Well the Reset Button Doctrine appears to be going ahead though the first problem doesn’t appear to be resetting relations as it is finding the correct Russia word for “reset”.  Secretary of State Clinton was in Russia yesterday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with hopes to warm relations.  Now forget that there was little actually “reset” in the meeting, but there was a button.  Says the NY Times,

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in greeting Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, presented him with a red plastic button emblazoned with the English word “reset” and the Russian word “peregruzka.”

The gift was a play on Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s call in Munich last month for the two countries to “press the reset button” on their relationship.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” Mrs. Clinton said, handing the button to Mr. Lavrov. “Do you think we got it?”

“You got it wrong,” he replied, explaining that the Americans had come up with the Russian word for overcharged.

What morons.  Are you telling me that Clinton’s staff had to “work hard” to find the right word for reset and they still messed it up?  Maybe Clinton should be pressing the reset button on her staff.  It’s nice to see that the new Administration is continuing the incompetency of the old one.

Photo: Associated Press.