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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.

Putin: Extremism is a Geopolitical Tool

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There’s question how much the revolution in Ukraine would inspire Russians. A successful Ukraine would become a shining example to Russians that a life without Putin is not only possible, but desirable. Putin is certainly aware of this and his comments on extremism to his Security Council shows that the threat of “colored revolutions” occupies his mind.

“In the modern world extremism is used as a geopolitical tool for redistribution of spheres of interest. We can see the tragic consequences of the wave of the so-called color revolutions, the shock experienced by people in the countries that had went through the irresponsible experiments of hidden, or sometimes brute and direct interference with their lives,” Putin told his Security Council. “This is a lesson and a warning for us,” he added. “We will do everything to never let this take place in Russia.”

It is no irony that he made these statements on the anniversary of the Maidan and on the heels of stating at an All-Russia Peoples’ Front forum that the United States is trying to subdue Russia.

What is extremism according to Putin? “People should understand that instigating conflict between people of different ethnic and religious background, the promotion of nationalist ideology, mass violations of public order and calls for forceful overthrow of the existing regime are all direct manifestations of anti-national thought and direct manifestations of extremism,” he said.

The most dangerous for Russia, Putin added, were “nationalism, religious intolerance, and political extremism.”

For some, adding “political extremism” along with his warnings about “colored revolutions” set a clear signal.

Speaking to Vedemosti, political scientist Dmitrii Oreshkin said that “The hysteria is growing and it is a direct result of Putin’s policies when they imagine 45 million Ukrainians as zhidobanderovtsy and fascists and invade the territory of another sovereign state, telling us, that it is lawful.” Putin comments, Oreshkin continued, mean that he “gave the understanding that will not permit attempts at disturbing political stability, everything will be declared extremism that is directed to changing the regime. Putin de-facto said: they surround us and we will be on the defensive.”