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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.

The Year of Stalin

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Stalin calendarThose communists in Voronezh really, really like Stalin.  Last month, the Voronezh KPRF put up billboards of Stalin to promote the dictator’s great achievements.  The local government demanded that the billboards be removed citing laws on advertising.

But the KPRF is undeterred. Spurred on by the OSCE’s recent resolution equating Stalin with Hitler and the local ban of their Stalin billboards, the regional KPRF office has decided to create pocket Stalin calendars to protest “against the discrimination of their party.”  So far 20,000 copies have been printed with plans to produce a total run of 100,000. The calendars won’t be sold, only distributed through Party cells.  However, local KPRFers don’t discount a few ending up in local kiosks.

The protest against Stalin haters worldwide doesn’t stop with pocket calendars. In the coming months, Voronezh communists plan on staging an motorcade rally to support the vozhd‘s positive image.  As for any possible repercussions, Andrei Poerantsev, a KPRF representative in the Voronezh city council, seems unconcerned.  “It’s possible that the protest will alienate some voters who have been convinced by TV propaganda and think Iosif Stalin as first and foremost as an initiator of repression,” he told Kommersant.  “But we remember him first and foremost as a powerful leader who has no rival in modern Russian history.”
Stalin calendar1
The calendar’s contents will repeat the general look of the billboards.  Inside, the calendar will honor only one holiday: December 21, “the birthday of the People’s Father” with the date embossed in a red star.  As Komsomolskaya pravda notes, “Apparently, holidays like New Year’s Day, March 8 (International Women’s Day), and even May 9 (Victory Day) don’t have any real meaning to the calendars authors . . .”

Nope. It’s Comrade Stalin unfettered and undisturbed. Day after glorious day.

Photos: KP and Rossiia Voronezh.