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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.

Yakemenko Loves You

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Vasili, Vasili, Vasili.  How far you’ve fallen.  To think that only a few years ago you were the leader of your own youth army, Nashi.  Now, you’re just a bureaucrat.  As for Nashi, with the “orange threat” vanquished, their only presence in Russian society is to pull pranks (some of which I admit are funny), hounding “oppositionists,” and filing lawsuits against those who “slander” them.  Nashi can apparently dish it, but they can’t take it.

But Vasili, I understand that Nashi has its own problems, and you have yours.  This is the Year of Youth, and as head of Russia’s Federal Agency of Youth Affairs, you gotta keep up with the kids.  Now that the year is closing, you’ve found your theme song in Timati’s new single, “Love You” (featuring Mariya and Busta Rhymes)

You apparently liked the swoons of the pop trio so much that you issued a letter officially supporting the track and urging the media to jump on board. The letter reads:

The Federal Agency of Youth Affairs gives its full support of the single “Love You.”  The track recorded by Timati together with Busta Rhymes and Mariya provides a composition of social nature which brings attention to the problems of the young generation.

The single “Love You” is a good musical codе of behavior for the entire Year of Youth in Russia.

[The Federal Agency of Youth Affairs] considers it an important aspect for mass media to devote attention to similar social work and give assistance in playing the single “Love You.”

Vasili, out!

Well, that letter is either going to bring Timati, Busta, and Mariya a lot of cash or quickly lead “Love You” to quickly becoming the lamest song ever.

A word about the video.  The video was shot in downtown Los Angeles, pretty much on the corner of Figueroa and 7th Street.   As a LA denizen, it is hard for me to reconcile the sickly sweet theme of compassion, peace, and brotherhood of “Love You” with the fact that Skid Row is a few blocks away.  Los Angeles film crews have an uncanny ability (with the help of LAPD) of cleansing an area of undesirables.

But I get why Yakemenko endorsed the song.  It’s his special way of telling all of Russia’s youth, “You can call me if you need me.  I’ll be right there.  I l-l-l-love you.”

Oh, and just remember kiddies, dyadya Putin says, “Drugs are shit,” but breakdancing promotes a “healthy lifestyle” and graffiti is “a real elegant art” (Okay, it really is quite elegant.  I’ll give him that.  But breakdancing!? Clearly, he hasn’t seen Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. If he did, he would know how much pain watching it causes.)

As for Busta Rhymes, what happened to you, brother?

Hap tip to Carl Schreck.