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 Back to Court

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It turns out that Memorial’s court victory was short lived.  According to, the St. Petersburg prosecutor appealed the Dzerzhinskii court’s February 24 ruling that went in Memorial’s favor.

My hope, even jubilation, that this circus was finally over was premature.  The case will now go to court for the third time.

Irina Flige, the head of Memorial, told Ezhednevnyi zhurnal that the prosecutor’s office promised to begin returning the hard disks though there was no agreement on the procedure.  “We must make sure that [the materials] are complete and that all the information is there, and that they are in working condition,” she said. She then added this interesting assessment of the situation,

It is not stated in the law how many times the prosecutor can appeal a court’s decision.  The meaning is altogether obvious: The fact that the district and city court simply dealt out the pot [i.e. as in poker]. And as long as we can’t jump out of this circle, we can’t appeal the decision to a higher authority. As long as they play his game of “district court good, city court bad”, we can’t take any other steps.  The first time this wasn’t clear, but now it has become clear.  That is to say, even if the district court makes a bad ruling the second time, we will have the possibility of moving further because would would have some kind of decision.  Our decisions do not go into legal force and we have nothing to appeal.

Does Flige mean that Memorial is stuck in a legal dance with the prosecutor, and as long as the courts rule in their favor, they are stuck at the district and city level?  Maybe someone who knows Russian legal process can explain this.

In the meantime, Memorial is back at square one.  No exact court date set for the next trial.  This will be announced after April 10.

A third time’s a charm, I guess . . .