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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.

Nashi Plagiarizes Goebbels

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Google Nashi and you’ll inevitably come across the term “Putinjugend”  I’ve never liked this label, mostly because Nashi is a far cry from the Hitler Youth in both scope and deed.  Nashi’s presence is much more hollow, in fact I question how active they really are outside of a small core group of activists.  If anything, they are more flash than substance, a virtual youth movement for our virtual times.  Despite my aversion to them being labeled anything close to a Hitler Youth, the latest internet scandal involving the Yaroslavl branch of Stal’, or Steel, Nashi’s patriotic initiative group, certainly raised my eyebrows.

According to, Ruslan Maslov, a Stal activist in Yaroslavl, decided to draw up “The Movement’s Commandments of Honor.”  Perhaps he felt his fellow Stalists needed some point by point direction.  The commandments’ eight points are as follows:

  1. Your fatherland is Russia.  Love it above all others and in deed more than word.
  2. The enemies of Russia are your enemies.
  3. Every compatriot, even the lowliest, is a part of Russia.  Love him like you love yourself!
  4. Demand only duties of yourself.  Then Russia will regain justice!
  5. Be proud of Russia!  You must honor the fatherland for which millions have given their lives.
  6. Remember, if someone takes away your rights, you have the right to say “NO!”
  7. Uphold what you must without shame when Great Russia is concerned!
  8. Believe in the future.  Then you can become the victor!

Your usual nationalist claptrap for the youth.  The only problem is that it’s a little to close to Joesph Goebbels “Ten Commandments of a National Socialist.”  The Reich Minister’s youth primer reads:

  1. Germany is your Fatherland; love it above all, and more in deeds than in words.
  2. Germany’s enemies are your enemies; hate them with all your heart.
  3. Every compatriot, even the lowliest, is part of Germany; love him as you love yourself.
  4. Demand only duties for yourself then Germany will also regain rights and privileges.
  5. Be proud of Germany; you have a right to take pride in a Fatherland for which millions have their lives.
  6. He who abuses Germany abuses you and your deceased; repay him with your fists!
  7. Repay like with like and then some.  If you are denied your just rights, remember: you can secure them again only through your own political movement.
  8. Do not be a hooligan anti-Semite–but beware of the Berliner Tageblatt!
  9. Live your life in such a way that one day you will not need to stand ashamed before a new Germany.
  10. Have faith in the future; only thus will you win it.

The similarities are disturbing to say the least.  Message to Nashi.  Plagiarism is bad.  Plagiarizing Joesph Goebbles is unacceptable.  Especially when the nation of you claim to love lost 26 million people fighting the country Goebbles served as Reich Minister of Propaganda.

However, none of this seemed to phase the Stalists in Yarloslav.  When Artem Kozlov, the coordinator of Stal’ in Yaroslav, was asked about the similarities between the two commandments, he called it a “provocation” then added, “The theses? Anyway, there is nothing bad here.  The roads were built well in Nazi Germany, but that doesn’t mean that they had to be destroyed.  Something good had to remain.”  Maybe so, but Goebbles Ten Commandments are a far cry from roads.

Maybe I should start rethinking that whole Putinjugend label . . .