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.

Swine Flu Lands in Moscow

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Hypochondriacs beware!  Swine flu has officially landed in Moscow. According to Novyi region, two women have been hospitalized in the capital. “Both women are citizens of Russia.  One of them arrived in Russia from New York yesterday, the second today.  They had fevers and were admitted to the hospital by our insistence,” Gennadii Onishchenko told Interfax. Interestingly, in Russia doctors call the virus, which has damned the good name of the pig the world over, “California 0409.”  That should make pigs feel better, but what of the sensitivities of us Californians?

Swine flu’s arrival makes Russia the fifteenth country to be infected.  The global hysteria sparked by the pandemic has led to altering flights, calls for a mass slaughter of pigs,  the quarantining of hotels at the first site of a Mexican tourist, and a whole host of other theories.  In Israel, the deputy health minister Rabbi Yakov Litzman won’t even say the word “pigs.” He officially calls the disease “Mexican flu.”

Of course, Mexico, where about 12 people have died and over 300 cases have been identified, has turned into a real life version of Outbreak. Mexico as epicenter has of course inspired our American xenophobes into a fury of anti-immigrant hateFox News has predictably led the anti-immigrant charge with accusations that illness is part of some kind of viral conspiracy against America.  It is only a matter of time they follow the Israelis in adopting “Mexican flu.”

Experts are still at a loss as to what to expect from the pandemic.  It could simply fizzle out or up its body count. If all this really does worry you, I advise reading Anatoly’s breakdown of the disease at Sublime Oblivion.