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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.

Will Pussy Riot be Amnestied?

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ATPR

Will Pussy Riot, several Bolotnaya participants, and all Greenpeace activists be amnestied?

So reports Izvestiia:

The president has jointly decided with human rights activists who will be amnestied for the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution. According to the decree on amnesty, which the president sent to the State Duma, the criminal cases of some 20,000 – 22,000 people will be halted. Among them are seven participants in the Bolotnaya case, participants of Pussy Riot, and Greenpeace activists. The articles for which the blogger Alexsei Navalny are charged will not be amnestied. As those in the State Duma leadership told Izvestiia, the amnesty will be enacted at the end of the year. It will take up to six months to implement.

According to the amnesty draft bill available on the Kremlin’s website, Natalia Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina would fall under point 6.2 which states:

“Women who have not lost their parental rights and have minor children under 18 years old on the day of the decree goes in effect fall under the action of the decree on amnesty.”

Tolokonnikova has a 5 year old daughter and Alyokhina a 6 year old son.

Vedomosti, however, reports based on the copy of the bill it received that three articles of the criminal code are exceptions, meaning those charged or convicted will be automatically freed. Two of the three pertain to Pussy Riot, the Bolotnaya participants and the jailed Greenpeace activists:

There is an exception for three articles of the criminal code: those convicted or on trial for them will be released and exempt from punishment regardless of age, sex or social status. There is Article 212 parts 2 and 3—the participation in mass disorder and calls for it (a maximum sentence of eight years). Participants in the Bolotnaya case fall under it. Earlier a source in the Presidential Council on Human Rights said the amnesty will extend to nine defendants in the case and will not affect those accused of using violence against police and OMON (Article 318 of the code, maximum 10 year sentence).

The second exception is for Article 213—hooliganism (up to seven years. Thus freedom would come early for Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot. Also, [it includes] all Greenpeace activists who participated in the action in the Arctic: they are now charged with disorderly conduct, not piracy.

Of course, it’s too soon to celebrate.  Plus, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina are due to be released in a few months anyway. They might be out before the amnesty is implemented. Still it’s some hope and given the sources for these stories, Izvestiia, which has solid Kremlin connections, and Vedomosti, which does damn good journalism, I feel more positive than negative about this.