Big business, it seems, is that segment of the Russian elite which has lost most of all in the last year. Russian oligarchs have transformed from yesterday’s welcome guests in London, Monaco or Nice into personae non-grata. Their accounts are emptying, the list of Forbes billionaires is shrinking, and maintaining their usual standard of living is no longer sustainable. However, the ‘revolt of the oligarchs’ expected by many did not happen. We will try to understand how realistic such expectations were, why big business remains an organic part of the Russian political regime without requesting democratisation, and what has changed in its position within the system over the last year.
1991, Leningrad. The private office of the deputy mayor of the city. A reporter for the city's television channel interviews a young official from Anatoly Sobchak's team. In the frame — a man with a childish face in a white shirt. Behind him, you can see window blinds, a television, a table lamp, a telephone, open folders with papers. A typical Soviet office environment. But something does not add up. From behind the scenes, the voice of the journalist says that yesterday, he could still see a bust of Lenin in this office, but today it had disappeared somewhere. What had happened?
Nationalism under the Guise of Eco-Activism: What is Happening in the Lachin corridor?January 27, 2023
Murad Gattal on the causes and prerequisites for a new escalation in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the transformations that it caused in Azerbaijani society.
Conversation with Fempodmoga – ‘We try to give refugees a sense of friendship and support’January 17, 2023
September met with Zhanna Chernenko, founder of two volunteer groups – Fempodmoga and Lingvo Volunteers, which help Ukrainian refugees in Europe in solving a variety of problems: from translating documents to cases of harassment and violation of labour rights.
Ukraine Aid and Anti-ImperialismJanuary 11, 2023
Ukraine aid, like the war itself, is a point of contention on the international left. Supporters see aid as essential for Ukraine’s defense against an imperialist invader. Skeptics regard it as a giveaway to the war industry at best, a fig leaf for the US empire at worst. The dilemma is that both sides have a point. Aid has enabled Ukraine to push back its occupier, but — funneled through the military-industrial complex of the United States — this success is bound up with both war profiteering and the maintenance of US hegemony. Supporters of aid, among whom I count myself, need to grapple with this ambiguity, which is indicative of the complex issues anti-imperialists will face as great power competition heats up in an increasingly multipolar world.
The Country of Developed NeoliberalismDecember 22, 2022
It appears that in recent days Russia has been labeled ‘neoliberal’ with increasing frequency. At the very least, this is surprising for the country, where the degree of the state’s involvement in the economy is as significant as it is in Russia and where the president publicly criticizes “neoliberalism.” Is it fair to discuss Russian neoliberalism? In our new text, we attempt to explore why the mainstream approach to the Russian political dynamics is often remote from reality (as, for instance, in the case of the view that the current President subjected “the oligarchs” to his own interests and deprived them of ability to influence politics), whereas the theoretical framework of neoliberalism can explain much about today’s Russia.
Arshak Makichyan: 'I believe myself to be a Russian activist, and in the future — a Russian politician'December 7, 2022
At the end of October, Arshak Makichyan, a climate activist and Fridays for Future participant, and three of his family members — his father and two of his brothers — were stripped of their Russian citizenship by court order. Russian citizenship was the only one they had; the family had moved to Russia from Armenia when Arshak was one year old. The court ruled that Russian passports had been issued to them illegitimately; in the case of the Makichyans, some documentation was missing, which the Ministry of Internal Affairs itself lost during their registration. In February 2022, Arshak had declared his anti-war position, and a month later left Russia. He is now sure that the decision of the court was caused by his civil position. September discussed with Arshak the significance of this precedent for activism in Russia and the connection between anti-war and environmental protest, as well as the COP27 summit, the strategy and tactics of the climate movement, and prospects for a green transition.
A recent post about Kyrgyzstan on Instagram by the popular Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov brought a wave of accusations of imperialism upon him. In this critique, the emphasis was on the boorish way the blogger expressed these statements, while the ideological form of Varlamov’s argument, the concept of a ‘service country’ went almost unnoticed. Let us puzzle out what is wrong with this concept and why it gives rise to such ridiculous statements.
Deindustrialisation, deurbanization and the dismantling of the welfare state — the problems of modern KyrgyzstanOctober 18, 2022
September spoke with Baiel Isayev, a Marxist and member of the organization KYRGSOC, about the socio-economic problems in Kyrgyzstan, the structure of Kyrgyz society, the impact of the Russian-Ukraine war on the region, and attitudes towards the Soviet past.
Students against war: anti-war movement in Russian universitiesSeptember 24, 2022
Alexander Korchagin, a student activist, spoke to activists from several universities and told us about the current state of student anti-war activism in Russia.