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.

Putin Levitates on Lubyanka

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As many know, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin turned 59 today, a day which for the last five years is also the anniversary of Anna Politkovskaya’s assassination. As one would imagine, Putin’s return to the throne has made this birthday has made the pious and humble Russian people more grateful than usual. As if his personality cult needed more inflation, the great leaders birth was even commemorated with the Twitter hashtag #СПАСИБОПУТИНУЗАЭТО, “Putin, thank you for that,” a revamp of the old Soviet joke, “Прошла зима, настало лето—Спасибо партии за это” (Winter has passed, summer has come –Thank the Party for that.)”

But my favorite happy birthday to Putin prank so far is the kimono-clad Putin sitting in Indian-style right where the famous statute of Cheka founder Felix Dzerzhinsky stood on Lubyanka square.  According to one Russian blog, the Putin puppet appeared at 5:07 in the evening. Who had to gumption to place the Putin remains unknown.

Experts claim that on the birthday of the colonel (or lieutenant colonel so he’s not to be mistaken as deep sea diver) will be inexorably dragged through the headwaters. Especially since he has turned into a hero in popular comics. Others think that he hasn’t ever drank, engages in sports and thinks a lot about the Motherland, meditates, and can levitate anywhere. Even on his birthday. After all, he recently did exactly that when he managed to change places with President Medvedev. What a great energetic person.

Putin meditating on the motherland.


Here’s a video of the prank.