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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.

Ahmadinejad Theorizes Colored Revolution

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Robert Fisk, who has been reporting daily from the Tehran, provides Ahmadinejad’s contribution to the theory of colored revolution:

In the aftermath of the Ahmadinejad “success” at the polls, his supporters were handing out leaflets condemning the secular revolutions of Eastern Europe, and their content says much about the anxieties of Iran’s clerical leadership. One of them was entitled: “The system of trying to topple an Islamic Republic in a ‘velvet revolution’.” It then described how it believes Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and other nations won their freedom.

“‘Velvet’ or ‘colourful’ revolutions… are methods of exchanging power for social unrest. Colourful and ‘velvet’ revolutions occurred in post-communist societies of central and Eastern Europe and central Asia. Colourful revolutions have always been initiated during an election and its methods are as follows:

“1. Complete despair in the attitude of people when they are certain to lose an election…

“2. Choosing one particular colour which is selected solely for the Western media to identify (for their readers or viewers).” Mousavi used green as his campaign colour and his supporters still wear this colour on wristbands, scarves and bandannas.

“3) Announcing that there has been advance cheating before an election and repeating it non-stop afterwards… allowing exaggeration by the Western media, especially in the US.

“4) Writing letters to officials in the government, claiming vote-rigging in the election. It’s interesting to note that in all such ‘colourful’ projects – for example, in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan – the Western-backed movements have warned of fraud before elections by writing to the incumbent governments. In Islamic Iran, these letters had already been written to the Supreme Leader.”

Another leaflet maintained that a study – which Khamenei’s advisers have obviously undertaken, however inaccurately – demonstrated that vote-rigging will be alleged on the very day of the election and that victory will be claimed by the opposition hours before the counting is finished and before their own defeat is announced. The results, says the document, will therefore already have a “background” of fraud. “In the final stages… supporters gather in front of the regime’s official offices, holding colourful banners and protesting against vote-rigging.” This part of the demonstration, the leaflet says, “is run by the foreign media who are the opposition movement’s supporters so that they make good pictures and mislead the international community”.