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.

Restoring Dzerzhinsky

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There are good ideas. There are bad ideas. Then there are really, really bad ideas. It seems that the Moscow city government might embrace the latter.

There are plans to spend 50 million rubles to erect several monuments around Moscow. So far the agreed restorations include statues to Lermontov, Chaplygin, and Shchusev. Also being considered are statues to Herzen, Ogarev, and a monument called the “First Komsomoltsy.” Also under consideration is to restore Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the Cheka, the Soviet secret police, to his pedestal on Lubyanka Square. According to the Russian press, some members of the Moscow city government think this is a grand idea.

“I think that it’s possible to restore [Dzerzhinsky] and put him back in place. But then it’s unclear why he was taken down in the first place. If they say that the money has been allocated [to return the statue], then it should be done,” says Andrei Metelskii, the vice-speaker of the Moscow city council and member of the city’s committee on culture and public relations. The proposal seems to also have the support of representatives from the LDPR, KPRF and United Russia deputy Vladimir Kolesnikov.

Unclear why Dzerzhinsky’s statute was removed in the first place? I can think of several thousand reasons. Most of them from mass graves from the Red Terror. Are Russian officials really that historically tone-deaf?

Many often assert that Putin’s Russia has restored the Soviet Union. I usually take such pronouncements as silly hyperbole. But is there any better symbol of Soviet revanche that returning Felix Edmundovich to his former stead?