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.

Russia’s Scandalocracy

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit


This week’s Russia! Magazine column, “Russia’s Descent into Absurdity,”

A rather hilarious petition, “Check E. B. Mizulina’s mental health” is circulating around RuNet. If you don’t know who Elena Mizulina is, you should. She’s the preeminent cultural warrior for KinderKircheKuche in Putin’s Russia. Mizulina is also better known as the force behind the anti-gay propaganda law as well as, according to the petition, “more and more absurd laws.” “We clearly see that this person,” the petition reads, “is living in a imaginary world (which is one of the signs of schizophrenia), she accuses anyone who doesn’t agree with her with collaborating with the “pedophile lobby” (paranoia), and possess an immense inferiority complex, for example, she demands that the phrase “gays are people too” be recognized as extremist (her demand, too, is in and of itself extremist).” The petition goes on to ask that the “best specialists” examine Mizulina’s mental health as the “mentally ill have no place in the Duma of the Russian Federation.” It’s no wonder so many believed Ksenia Sobchak’s tweets that she saw Mizulina on TV saying that the anti-gay propaganda law would include banning oral sex. “Is that so? Will it be illegal to publicly eat an Eskimo Pie?” she asked. Then the It-Girl sent another: “Mizulina’s next law will be connected to the adverse effect lollipops are having on the country’s demographic situation.” The tweet went viral, resulting in several major Russian news outlets reporting the fellatio ban as truth. But truth is the first thing to go in the “world of fantasy and fairy tales.”

As Peter Pomerantsev urges us to consider, the absurd and the phantasmagoric have come to govern Putin’s third term. The specter of enemies from within and without, the clumsily managed trials, staged raids and thinly disguised trumped-up investigations, and the litany of foolish laws, of which Mizulina stands at the center, all speak to a Russia that has descended into a dark comedy with an infinite ensemble, limitless budget, and boundless stage. Perhaps most unfortunate, this gallows humor appears to have eternal air-time. The off button has been scrapped off the remote. It’s as if the Kremlin and its adherents, which were so adept at managing democracy, are now only capable of managing Putinism’s descent into nonsense.

Read on . . .