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 Vindicated, Again

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit

When the St. Petersburg office of Memorial was raided in December last year, the international media was aghast.  Article after article saw the confiscation of Memorial’s database of archival materials and interviews of life under Stalin as proof that Stalinism was back in full force.  Why else would police bother to raid the human rights organization, they reasoned, if not to silence their voices of anti-Stalinism?

The exact reasons why Memorial was put through this ordeal remain murky.  The official explanation is that the organization was somehow affiliated with Novyi Peterburg, which was under investigation for extremism.  Others opined that the raid was connected to Memorial’s screening of Rebellion: the Livinenko Case. Still others maintain that the raid was part of a larger battle over Russia’s past, in particular the memory of the Stalin period.

While much ink was spilled on speculating why Memorial was raided, and its implications in regard to the memory of Stalinism, the English language press has been virtually silent in pointing out that the human rights organization won two cases in court that rebuffed investigators” search. The fist ruling came in January, when the Dzerzhinsky court ruled that investigators’ raid was illegal because they didn’t allow Memorial’s lawyer to be present.  The police, however, appealed and the case went back to court.

But then last week, the Dzerzhinsky court again ruled in Memorial’s favor. As for the return of the hard disks and archival materials, the organization received a letter from St. Petersburg’s human rights ombudsman saying that their materials have already been removed from the investigators office and will soon be returned.

One would think that this victory would be a perfect David and Goliath story.  A tale where the good guys won against the evil Stalinists, who despite their enormous powers and nefarious plots were defeated in the court of law.  One might even point out that in this case, the courts worked.  They upheld Memorial’s right to have a lawyer present during a search and seizure.  One would also think that given Memorial’s stature in the West as a defender of human rights, their victory would have been hoisted up as a great triumph.  But apparently, this good news is not fit enough for the English media to print.