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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.

Stalin not Welcome in Voronezh

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On June 22 residents of Voronezh found their local billboards featuring an ominous, but familiar face: Comrade Stalin  “Victory will be ours!” reads a slogan in large white letters below a large picture of the vozhd.  The question, curious residents asked, was why Comrade Stalin’s visage was once again taking such a prominent public space, and more importantly, who put it there? 

According to Kommersant, the Stalin billboards are part of a campaign by the Communist Party to commemorate the 130th birthday of the generalissimo.  Sergei Rudakov, a KPRF regional deputy, told the daily that his party wanted “to remind every resident about the great person and his achievements.  The billboards, which were designed by three advertising companies, cost 8,000 rubles apiece. 

Not everyone was happy to see Stalin dotting the skyline.  Most of all, Voronezh’s city administration, which ordered that the billboards be taken down because, according to the law, “the contents of posters are not regarded as either commercial or social advertisements, are not directed toward a charitable or a socially useful purpose, maintain the interests of the state, and there are not objects of advertisement on the billboard.”

“In my opinion,” KPRF regional secretary Andrei Rogatnev told Kommersant, “If you follow the principle of the lack of objects of advertisement on billboards, then it is necessary to remove the posters where Vladimir Putin is presenting [Voronezh] mayor Sergei Koliukh with a certificate conferring Voronezh as the “City of Military Glory.”

Well, double standards hold in Voronezh.  The city administration has demanded that the billboards be taken down, and if they aren’t, it will revoke the licenses of billboard companies who put them up.