Jailing Russia’s Mayors

This week’s Russia! Magazine column, “The Summer of Mayors“: It’s the summer of mayors in Russia. That’s right: mayors. Those unalluring, often block shaped, overwhelmingly

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Fragmenting Putinism

This week’s Russia! Magazine column, “Surveying Putin 2.0“: In his seminal essay on hegemony, State and Civil Society, the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci summed up

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Navalny the Unifier

It’s a few days old, but I wanted to draw readers’ attention to an article I wrote for the Exiled on Alexei Navalny as a

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The Hundred-Headed Monster

In a Journey From St. Petersburg to Moscow (1790), Aleksander Radishchev referred to Russia’s autocratic system as a “hundred-headed monster that gulps down the food

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The Zero Sum Game

I often tell my students that Russian politics is a zero sum game.  You’re either in or you’re out.  One’s political patronage begins and ends

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Who are the Primorye Partisans?

Russia’s Far East has always been an unruly place. Tsars and Communists alike dumped its criminals and politicals there. In the interwar period it was a hot bed for lawlessness and banditry, where gangs and holdouts of the White Army made life difficult for the new Soviet state. There is one historical artifact that always stands out in my mind when it comes to the Russia’s Far East. I tend to give it to my students so they can get a flavor of the heady days of the Russian Revolution. The document is an anonymous letter to Lenin dated 15 January 1918. After lambasting Lenin for not keeping his promise to deliver “peace, bread, land, and liberty in three days’ time” the complainant ended with this warning: “If you’ve picked up the reins [of power] then go ahead and drive, and if you can’t, then, honey, you can take a flying fuck to hell, or as we say in Siberia, you’re a goddamned motherfucker, son of an Irkutsk cunt, who’d like to sell us out to the Germans. No, you won’t be selling us out: don’t forget that we Siberians are all convicts.”*

This document has resonated with me over the last few days as Russian police forces scoured the Primorye Krai looking for the so-called “Russian Rambos.” The problem is that the evidence that these guys are “Rambos,” “Robin Hoods” or “revolutionaries” is rather thin. It seems that they are at best common criminals and worse Russian fascists, making the supposed support of the “partisans” quite disturbing.

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