Recent Posts

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.

My Perestroika on PBS

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Watch the full episode. See more POV.

I don’t usually post plugs, but I received an email from the Community Engagement and Education Department from the PBS series POV about the upcoming broadcast of My Perestroika on June 28.  It’s rare that serious films about Russia make it to American television, and promoting PBS in general is a worthy endeavor, so I thought I would help them out. You can find your local time for My Perestroika here.

Unfortunately, the DVD only has an “institutional price,” i.e. a whopping $395 for university libraries.  So PBS is the only affordable place, i.e. free, for the time being.

I haven’t see the film, though I’ve want to. Some friends have seen it and they say it’s excellent. You can also read reviews in the New York Times and the Nation,

Here is a short synopsis of My Perestroika from its press kit,

When the USSR broke apart in 1991, a generation of young people faced a new realm of possibilities. An intimate epic about the extraordinary lives of this last Soviet generation, Robin Hessman’s feature documentary debut tells the stories of five Moscow schoolmates who were brought up behind the Iron Curtain, witnessed the joy and confusion of glasnost, and reached adulthood right as the world changed around them. Through candid first person testimony, revealing verité footage, and vintage home movies, Hessman, who spent many years living in Moscow, reveals a Russia rarely ever seen on film, where people are frank about their lives and forthcoming about their country. Engaging, funny, and positively inspiring, in MY PERESTROIKA politics is personal, honesty overshadows ideology, and history progresses one day, one life at a time.

So tune in. I will.


For those without PBS, My Perestroika will be streamed online from June 29, 2011 to August 28, 2011 (FYI: the link is dead at the moment, but I assume it will work on the 29th).

Also here’s an interview with director Robin Hessman about the film on PBS Newshour.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.