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.

Surkov and Neo-Nazis?

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My latest for Russia Magazine, “Did Vladislav Surkov Help Fund Neo-Nazis?“:

It’s long been rumored that Vladislav Surkov funded and directed football hooligans and Russian nationalists to attack Russian oppositionists. But there has been little direct proof to pin on the Grey Cardinal of the Presidential Administration (PA). It was all just rumors, albeit believable ones. The truth, however, might be coming out. Since last May, the security services have been collecting information on Surkov’s connections with right-wing groups, particularly in the formation and funding of the neo-Nazi group Russkii obraz. The significance of this possible connection is big. Russkii obraz is where Ilya Goryachev got his start in the neo-Nazi business. Goryachev is currently on trial for masterminding several murders as the leader of the Military Organization of Russian Nationalists (BORN) between 2007 and 2010. Goryachev was extradited from Serbia last November to stand trial in Russia. BORN’s kill list includes Federal Judge Eduard Chuvashov, antifascist activists Ivan Khutoskii and Ilya Dzhaparidze, Thai boxing world champion Muslim Abdullaev, the lawyer Stanislav Markelov, and Novaya gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova. If Goryachev’s alleged links to the Kremlin implicates in several murders. And Goryachev’s connections to the Kremlin are coming from an unlikely source: Nikita Tikhonov, a former compatriot of Goryachev and co-founder of BORN. Tikhonov is serving a life sentence along with Yevgenia Khasis, who’s serving eighteen years, for Markelov’s and Baburova’s murder in 2011. Tikhonov is providing testimony in Goryachev’s upcoming trial, and some of the transcripts point to a link between neo-Nazis and the PA. Is Tikhonov testimony true? Is there a deeper meaning behind outing Surkov and his allies’ connections to neo-Nazis?

Read on . . .