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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.

Witnessing the Collapse of Communism

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the end of communist states in Eastern Europe. To commemorate this defining historical event, Matthais Neumann, the new president of the British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies and past SRB Podcast guest gave me the recording of a roundtable he moderated “Witnessing the Collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union” from the BASEES conference in April.

The panel’s participants include:

Timothy Garton Ash is the author of ten books that have charted the transformation of Europe over the last half century. He is Professor of European Studies in the University of Oxford, Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in the New York Review of Books and he writes a column on international affairs in the Guardian. His book The Magic Lantern which documented the collapse of communism in East Europe has been translated into fifteen languages. A new edition of The Magic Lantern with a new postscript will be published this fall.

Bridget Kendall joined the BBC in 1983 and has since become one of the Corporation’s most respected international correspondents, with 30 years of experience of reporting from the field. She served as BBC Moscow correspondent and BBC Washington correspondent. Since 1998 she has held the senior role of BBC Diplomatic correspondent, reporting on and analyzing major global crises and conflicts, and their impact on Britain and the world.

Jens Reich was born in Göttingen in 1939. A molecular biologist and essayist, he was one of the key figures in the civil rights movement of the GDR in the 80s. In September 1989 he was one of the signatories of the paper calling for the establishment of the “Neues Forum” grassroots movement whose activities led to the overthrow of the communist regime in East Germany and eventually to the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1990, as leading candidate of “Neues Forum”, he was elected to the People’s Chamber of the GDR. After reunification, he returned to his academic career as molecular geneticist at the Max-Delbrück-Centre in Berlin, remaining politically active.