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.

Writing

Pussy Riot’s Passion

My review, “Demystifying the media caricatures of Pussy Riot” of Masha Gessen’s Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot has been published in The World Today. Here’s an excerpt: Pussy Riot are now global celebrities. Their cause has been featured in articles, profiles, books and films. Since...

The Titushki Generation

by Lesia Mazanik, 1 February 2014 Original in Russian Translated by William Risch Titushki is a new word from Ukrainians’ lexicon that the whole world is now learning. This is the name for strong, athletic young men hired for money to cause trouble at public gatherings, who start up...

Gay Propaganda Uptick

As I noted in my Nation article on the gay propaganda law (which, by the way, has been nominated for a GLAAD Media Award), there have only been few instances where the law has been enforced. This seems to be changing. Last week, Nikolai Alexeyev, Russia’s most well known...

The Day Kyiv Blew Up

Guest post by William Risch On January 19, 2014, Kyiv exploded.  It started with a peaceful mass rally of over 100,000 people at Independence Square (commonly referred to as the Maidan).  Organizers had talked of this being a chance to protest laws limiting freedom of speech and assembly that...

Review: Putin’s Games

http://english.share.rferl.org/flashembed.aspx?t=vid&id=25191947&w=640&h=363&skin=embeded My column for Russia Magazine, “Palaces in Sochi on Monday,” Until recently, Sochi was mostly viewed in the context of Russia’s anti-homosexuality laws. No more. Stories of corruption and rights abuses in the preparation of the Olympics are all the rage. Joshua Yaffa’s recent article in Business Week...

Bandera’s Ghost in Kyiv

Guest post by William Risch Last week January 1 marked more than the start of a new year in Ukraine.  It marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera, onetime leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).  About 15,000 people in Kyiv took part in a...

Battlefield Volgograd

My article for Next City, “Why the Terrorists Chose Volgograd,” Volgograd has a long history of violence. Originally Tsaritsyn, it was a key southern outpost founded in the 16th century to serve as the guardian of the Volga River and a gateway to the Caucasus. It location at the...