Recent Posts

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

The Podcast Theme Song

Many people have asked me about the theme song to the SRB Podcast. So instead of answering the question over and over by individual request, I’ve finally decided to post it on the blog for all to enjoy. The song is Moya Marusechka (Моя Марусечка) by Petr Leshchenko, 1898-1954...

SRB Weekly Dispatch #1

I’ve started a weekly newsletter and the first edition is now available. Readers can access it here. If you’d like to subscribe and get it in your email inbox, please fill out the form below. Subscribe to the SRB Weekly Dispatch! * indicates required Email Address * First Name...

A Letter to the Russian Elite

I was on Brian Whitmore’s Power Vertical podcast this week. In thinking over some of my comments, I realized that I was basically giving the Russian elite advice on how to be a functioning bourgeoisie. The bourgeois class project in Russia has been a historical failure. Russia’s third bourgeois is currently...

Russian Debt Collectors’ Reign of Terror

I wrote an article for OpenDemocracy on microloans and debt collector violence. I’ve been mulling the article since January when I read a gruesome story about a debt collector throwing a Molotov cocktail through the debtor’s window severely burning his two year old grandson. A Google news search revealed that...

The Russian Authorities Not Named Putin in the Panama Papers

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...

19 Million Russians

Over 19 million Russians live in poverty, according to a recent article in Dengi. But how is poverty determined in the Russian context? For Rosstat to categorize you as in poverty, you need to have an income lower than the subsistence minimum. For the majority of Dengi readers, this...

US and Stalinist Prison Populations Revisited

Back in 2013, I wrote a post examining at the numbers of people in the Stalinist gulag compared to the US prison industrial complex. The post was in response to the Adam Gopnik’s and Fareed Zakaria’s claim that the over 6 million people in the US are under “correctional supervision” was higher...

The Life of a Black Agronomist in Soviet Russia

Readers and listeners of this blog’s podcast might recall an interview I did last summer with Joy Gleason Carew about African Americans who traveled, worked and even immigrated to the Soviet Union. It’s a fascinating story that is thankfully getting more popular and scholarly attention.  There’s Vladimir Alexandrov’s The...

Is There Life on Mars? An Interview with Elena Demidova on Men’s Choice

In January, Novaya gazeta held their annual online documentary film festival. Each film was available for online viewing for 24 hours. A Facebook friend posted a link to Elena Demidova’s Men’s Choice (Muzhskoi vybor). He had written the English subtitles for it. It looked interesting so I checked it...

Scabic Soldiers on the March

It’s hard not to notice the plethora of articles once again warning about Russia invading the Baltics. The prospect has come up on a number of occasions over the last two years, and I have to say, I can’t help but have increasing sympathy for RT’s skepticism that the...