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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.

Medvedev to Meet with United Russia Youth

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Dimitri Medvedev’s effort to court youth into politics continues on Thursday when he meets with young members of United Russia.  According to Kommersant, the meeting will be attended by party leaders Mintemer Shaimiev and Yuri Luzhkov, General Council secretary Vyacheslav Volodin and young United Russia representatives from the provinces.

The meeting appears to have been thrown together at the spur of the moment, right before Medvedev’s comments on youth policy last week.  Little has been said about the actual content of the meeting. According to Alexander Tretyakov, the head of the Perm’s United Russia office, “the delegation has been formed, but still not the full information about the event.”  Aleksei Volotskov, a member of Volgograd’s youth council and UR member, said that he only got a request to submit his information for a background check two weeks ago.

As to what the President’s urgency to meet with young URs might be, Vlacheslav Burkov, United Russia member and speaker in Perm’s youth parliament, thinks that it could be about drawing up names for a national parliament for youth under 30.  It is the “Year of Youth” as Medvedev’s press secretary told the business daily. Yet, according to Kommersant‘s sources, United Russia has yet to form a plan to addressing young members most pressing concern: forming a cadre of young political reserves.  This isn’t expected to happen until the end of the year.

Nevertheless, it seems that Medvedev is taking the appropriate steps to draw fresh blood into the political establishment.  As political commentator Dmitri Badivskii told Kommersant, “Medvedev may propose his idea of using the cadre of reserves especially at the municipal level and also propose party candidacy for governor appointments.”  Maybe the President’s personal anointing of young people into municipal positions will begin breaking the stranglehold of local elder bureaucrats.  Let’s hope so.