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.

Gay Propaganda Uptick

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As I noted in my Nation article on the gay propaganda law (which, by the way, has been nominated for a GLAAD Media Award), there have only been few instances where the law has been enforced. This seems to be changing. Last week, Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s most well known gay activist, paid the first fine in the law’s history after his appeal was thrown out in an Arkhangelsk court. Also, Molodoi dalnevostochnik, a newspaper in Khabarovsk, was recently fined 50,000 rubles for violating the law, the first publication to be prosecuted. “Gay propaganda” is even turning up in the strangest of places. A prosecutor in Stavropol has found “gay propaganda” in a children’s game “Fanti.” Now Lena Kilmova, the founder of Deti-404, a social media group that supports LGBT teens, has been served an “infringement notice.” As reported in the Advocate:

The formal charges against Kilmova claim she “had registered a web page propagandizing non-traditional sexual relations among minors, which took form of distribution of information among minors aimed at forming of non-traditional sexual affirmations, attraction to non-traditional sexual relations, distorted conceptions of social equality of traditional and non-traditional sexual relations,” according to the Straight Alliance for LGBT Equality.

“In light of general trends in the country, I am not surprised,” said Kilmova in a statement from the Straight Alliance. “But it is very sad that letters from LGBT teenagers themselves are called ‘homosexual propaganda among minors.’ It is absurd! Milonov, the complaint initiator, has two demands: to fine me and to close the group. If it will be closed, LGBT teenagers will lose the only place where they can openly speak about themselves and receive advice they need to live. It will be a catastrophe.”

Are we finally witnessing an uptick in the law use?

Finally, Slon has a revealing infographic concerning gay propaganda. Slon compared references of homosexuality in the media with popularity of searches of the terms “homosexuality,” “gay,” and “gay propaganda” on media sites between January 2009 and January 2014. Apparently all the media discourse has not contributed to any increased interest in searching homosexuality. This is what Slon came up with: