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.

“I’m for sure way more powerful than you are.”

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I’ve encountered a lot of interesting people in my seven years of blogging. But none have been as flamboyant as the infamous La Russophobe. Here’s an email that I received  from Ms. Zigfeld this evening that proves why:

Dear Sean,
In a recent blog post, you called for Yulia Latynina to lose her job. Not that, of course, you have even 10% of the kind of influence that would be needed to make that happen, or that she or her employer even know who you are, but I think that if you review these posts calmly you’ll perhaps see they are childish, bitter, petty and ought to be beneath you.  They make both you and your university look bad.  The mere fact that you have the time to devote to such drivel does so, to say nothing of the wretched content.  Yulia risks her life exactly the way Politkovskaya did, and she is published by editors who are among the bravest and most important of any editors of any newspaper at any time in world history.  Your comments are grossly disrespectful of their judgment and the risks she is taking. You are not qualified to pass judgment on them, to say the least. Worst of all, you didn’t even see fit to call for Zhirinovsky to lose his job, which clearly establishes that this is a personal thing you have with Yulia.  She didn’t even make a factual mistake, she just expressed an opinion that turned out to be bogus, and she owned up to it. It’s not a basis for her to be fired, just that simple.
So here’s what: I’m giving you one week to reconsider, apologize for going too far and admit she should not be fired.  If you don’t, I’m going to call for you to be fired.  In my view, I have more ammunition that you did in regard to Yulia. And I’m for sure way more powerful than you are.

As the great Stan “The Man” Lee often says, “Nuff said.”

Here’s a screen shot as proof of the missive’s authenticity. I’ve removed our respective emails.