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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.

Patriarch Kirill Does a Pat Robertson

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I’ve been consciously avoiding mentioning the earthquake in Haiti.  All I can say that I’m glad to be aboard so I don’t have to be exposed to the 24-hour disaster pornfest that is apparently filling in every second of American cable news.  If I had to watch an eternal loop of CNN’s Anderson Cooper rescuing a bloody Haitian kid, I would empty my bank account for a flight outta there.  I just hope that Haiti won’t became yet another laboratory for disaster capitalism. I won’t hold my breath.

But apparently Russia is nowhere to hide from the crass exploitation of the disaster.  Tearing a page from Pat Roberston’s playbook, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill said the following during a visit to Kazakhstan:

Kirill, speaking during a weekend visit to Kazakhstan, said the Haitian people bore responsibility for the calamity because they had turned away from God, the news agency reported late Monday.

“Haiti is a country of poverty and crime, famine, drugs and corruption, where people have lost their moral face,” Kirill was quoted as saying.

He compared Haiti with the Dominican Republic, which are located on the same Caribbean island.

“I’ve visited the island divided between two countries, the Dominican Republic and Haiti. One of them is developing, while the other is affected by crimes, economic recession and political unrest. That part of the island was shattered by the earthquake,” he said.

The patriarch also compared Haiti with Kazakhstan, noting that Kazakhstan has not experienced any earthquakes recently despite its seismological position, the news report said.

Church representatives tried to save their “moral face” by claiming that Kirill’s words were “misinterpreted” and “taken out of context.” I’ll never tire of the propensity for old white guys, especially the holy roller types, to stick their foot in their diarrhea mouths.  They’re either spewing shit or just stepping in it.  The only difference between Robertson and Kirill is that the former still manages to swindle American old ladies out of their pensions with tales of future apocalyptic doom, while the latter is none other than the face of the Russian Orthodox Church.  Robertson’s nuttiness is easily laughed at.  Kirill’s on the other hand . . .

But Father Kirill isn’t alone when it comes from crazy Russian ideas about Haitian earthquake.  One theory floating around runet is that the earthquake was caused by the United States testing a “new weapon” to “utilize earthquakes.”  The weapon, which leaders of the Northern Fleet have informed Prime Minister Putin about, is said to have been created for a future war against Iran, according the quack site, which apparently took it from this quack site, that reported the theory. As for the weapon,

According to information on the site, the weapon, which induces earthquakes, uses the design of the great scientist and genius inventor Nicholas Tesla.  In the beginning of the 1920s he showed results of his experiments: He attached a small apparatus to the side of building, tuned it, and then the structure underwent increasingly stronger vibrations until it was destroyed.

Oh my God! That’s exactly what happened to Haiti!  I love it.  In too many minds everything horrible in the world is either caused by God or the United States.

Hat tip to Kolya for the US earthquake bomb story.