Tag Archives: Russia

Austerity Economics Russian Style: “The state never asked you to be born”

Translated by Joseph Livesey For two decades steadily rising living standards and high rates of economic growth have served as the standard explanations for Vladimir Putin’s overwhelming support among Russian voters while a key theme of Russian state propaganda has been the championing of Putin-style “stability” (as opposed to the chaos and poverty of the 1990s) and the unfettered consumption that has been made possible in Russia today. The effectiveness of such propaganda never really depended on the extent to which its depictions of reality were true, as much as it did on confidence in its promise for the ..

A Comedian in a Drama

This article was first published in Jacobin. In Sunday’s election Ukrainian voters dealt a decisive rebuttal to the post-Maidan establishment. Yet well-organized nationalist forces represent a time bomb under the new president-elect. American readers won’t be too surprised by a tale of an inexperienced candidate winning against the establishment’s pick. But in the case of Ukraine’s new leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy, this widely made comparison is even something of an understatement. Imagine that Donald Trump was thirty years younger and had never written any books or participated in any (even allegedly) seri ..

Russia: The Protest Movement is Younger, Poorer, and More Left Wing

Translated by Sean Guillory A version of this article was published in Russian at Eurasianet.org As conspiracy theories about Trump-Russian “collusion” and fatuous claims about Putin’s iron grip have dominated American headlines for the past two years, the politics of the Russian street have undergone a noticeable transformation. Despite the authorities’ best efforts, mass street protests have become a fact of Russian life. The mass protests for fair elections in December 2011 aroused intellectuals’ interest in opposition politics in the large cities. Seven years later, the aesthetics of protest have ch ..

The Protests against Russia’s Pension Reform and the Reasons for Their Defeat

Note from LeftEast editors: The main political event of 2018 on Russia’s domestic scene was probably the pension reform and the unsuccessful resistance against it. In this piece published in Russian in Sotsiologia vlasti 30(4)2018 co-translated for LeftEast by Kate Seidel, Ana Gurau, and Dasha Vodchic, Ilya Budraitskis takes this episode as a lens on the government modus operandi and on the logic driving the different segments of the opposition. The Russian authorities’ actions in as they were preparing to raise the retirement age in summer 2018 involved both a thought-out strategy and a relatively weak propa ..

The Living Front of Stanislav Markelov

This article by Kirill Medvedev, a Moscow-based poet, translator, and activist of the Russian Socialist Movement, originally appeared in an English translation by Tom Rowley and Guiliano Vivaldi in Open Democracy–Russia and Beyond. Ten years ago, Stanislav Markelov was murdered in Moscow. He defended anti-fascists and ecologists, mothers trying to defend their sons serving in the army and citizens of Blagoveshchensk brutalised at the hands of the riot police, the relatives of Elza Kungayeva (murdered by a Russian soldier in Chechnya) and journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was brutally assaulted for coveri ..

Russia’s Electoral Circus

September 9, 2018 saw regional elections on a massive scale in Russia, with 4,000 representative seats, at various levels of government, at stake: special elections for 7 deputies in the lower house of Russia’s parliament, the State Duma; 26 of the 85 heads of regional governments across Russia; as well as elections to regional parliaments and representative organs of administrative centers. Elections in Russia long ago ceased to generate any hopes of real, practical potential for change. The results, as a rule, are known in advance – and in the unlikely chance of an authentic “struggle,” it’s i ..

Can Russia’s opposition come together to fight the Kremlin’s pension reform?

The article originally appeared in OpenDemocracy-Russia & Beyond. While popular opinion is dead against the Russian government’s continued neoliberal line in social policy, opposition groups are competing for influence and electorate. Translated from the original Russian by Thomas Campbell. Now that the State Duma has passed the first reading of draft legislation reforming Russia’s pension system, we can speak confidently of a serious turn in state-society relations in Russia. For the first time in 15 years, the Russian government is risking a large-scale, unpopular reform. The government proposes radica ..

We Asked: Geopolitics & the Left, Part II

In continuing the theme of the conflict between Russia and the West, which we discussed last week, now we turn to the broader issue of a leftist perspective on geopolitics. Even though most of the articles LeftEast publishes deal in one way or another with the transnational connectivities, we have been somewhat reticent about the whole issue of geopolitics. For two reasons. In the first place, because of our method of seeking authors based in or at least with deep knowledge of concrete societies, who would share that knowledge with our readers. If so much news analysis, even on the left, starts with some geopolit ..

We Asked: Geopolitics and the Left (Part I: Russia & the West)

The latest wave of confrontation between Russia and the West—from the Skripal affair and the following diplomat expulsions and sanctions on Russia to the gassing of Douma residents most likely perpetrated by the Assad regime and the resulting US-UK-French bombing raids on Syria–rarely left the front pages of mainstream media. LeftEast has until now resisted the topic: it is not quite our fight. Not to sound nostalgic, but if the original Cold War, for all the devastation of its proxy wars and the dictatorships it bred, created conditions that sometimes favored the processes of decolonization, the victory ..

The Very Best Day

Note from the editors: This piece originally appeared at Arts Everywhere. It is reprinted here with kind permission from the author. On March 3rd, 2018, the main pre-election rally for Vladimir Putin took place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Tens of thousands of public sector workers were brought in from various regions of the country and were expected to listen to the President’s speech as well as those of actors and singers who came out in his support. Not long before Putin himself appeared, Grigory Leps, a popular singer with a criminal past, performed his song “The Very Best Day.” Precisely six year ..