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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.

Politkovskaya Defendents Go Back to Court

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It’s back to court for Pavel Ryaguzov, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov.  Today, the Russian Supreme Court overturned their acquittal in the Anna Politkovskaya murder case.  Reports the NY Times:

The court said the four men, who were accused of assisting the killer of Ms. Politkovskaya, should be tried on the same charges in the same military court in Moscow. In ordering the retrial, the court sided with the prosecution, which argued that there had been procedural violations by the judges and the defense during the original trial, a court spokesman, Pavel Odintsov, said. Other critics, however, including President Dmitri A. Medvedev, cited the prosecution’s errors and unfamiliarity with the jury system, which is relatively new in Russia, in the acquittal.

A statement issued by the Politkovskaya family on Novaya gazeta‘s website said the following the about the Court’s ruling:

We recognize that the trial of every one of the accused was a fiasco.  A fiasco from the standpoint of the evidence which was presented to the court.

But we think they are accessories in the case because we have yet to received an answer about what [they] were doing near the building at the time of the murder.

Therefore, the verdict, which the jury decided was just because there not enough evidence was presented.

We, as before, think that there is one possible option in the progress of the case–its transfer to a supplementary examination.  We, as before, are sure that the case was not investigated and not transparent, and our main demand to the investigation which has yet to clarify who ordered the murder and the rest of the participants in the crime.

We only want the case to be investigated as it should be, and hold accountable all those persons responsible including the [murder’s] client.

For an excellent article on the first trials proceedings, I highly recommend Keith Gessen’s ‘The Accused”  Hopefully this time the prosecution will present a better case.