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.

The Russian Authorities Not Named Putin in the Panama Papers

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As the media world is fixated on Putin’s allegedly stashed $2 billion, the not-named-Putin Russians in the leaked documents comprise of siloviki, chinovniki, parliamentarians, governors and their families. They include:

  • Dmitri Peskov, Putin’s Press Secretary
  • Suleiman Geremeev, Senator from Chechnya and uncle of Ruslan Geremeev, the main suspect in ordering the assassination of Boris Nemtsov
  • Viktor Zvargelskii, Duma Deputy United Russia
  • Mikhail Slipenchuk, Duma Deputy United Russia
  • Aleksandr Babakov, Duma Deputy United Russia
  • Andrei Turchak, Governor of Pskov
  • Boris Dubrovskii, Governor of Chelyabinsk
  • Igor Zubov, Deputy Minster of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Aleksandr Makhonov, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs
  • Maksim Liksutov, Vice-Mayor of Moscow
  • Nikolai Patrushev, National Security Council Secretary
  • Aleksei Yliukaev, Minister of Economic Development
  • Ivan Maliushin, Deputy Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs

You can find a rundown of all their offshore and shell company connections and more in Novaya gazeta’s Panama Papers investigation “Offshore. Uncovered.”

These people’s response to the Panama Papers’ revelations has been either “no comment,” plain denial, or “we conduct business by the book.”

And no one in Russia is under any illusion that these revelations will gain any political, let alone legal traction. No Russian law enforcement body has said a single word about intending to look into these documents. It’s just business as usual. Those in the Western press having their “Gotcha!” moment might as well be saying it in the mirror. Even the Vedomosti editorial board is blasé about the big revelations:

In Russia, offshore companies are first and foremost as a means of protection and for the concealment of property. In the West they are to avoid paying taxes, while we hide ownership. First, it’s more convenient to do business through offshore companies. Second, many of our businesses are linked in some way to the state—either through money or participants—in ways that aren’t always legal.

Our “state official-owners” can’t imagine the existence of something both beneficial for the state and detrimental to the authorities. It’s impossible for them to say that we ourselves will now take taxes from ourselves and we ourselves will punish ourselves. Therefore, we have to say that there is nothing new in these documents, and that it is a hit against the president. In a way, this is the honest truth.