Gulag Town, Company Town

24 Nov



Alan Barenberg, Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University where he specializes in the social and economic history of the Soviet Union from the 1930s to the 1970s. He is the author of Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and its Legacy in Vorkuta.

Interrogating the Power Vertical

12 Nov



Brian Whitmore, the Senior Correspondent in RFE/RL‘s Central Newsroom, covering European security, energy and military issues and domestic developments in Russia. He is longtime “Russia Watcher” and the author of the highly influential Power Vertical Blog and host of the Power Vertical Podcast. Before joining RFE/RL in 2007, he worked for eight years for the Boston Globe and was a political correspondent and columnist in Russia for the St. Petersburg Times and The Moscow Times.

Russia, Syria, and the Jihadist Threat

18 Oct



Gordon Hahn, analyst and Advisory Board Member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation and Adjunct Professor at the Middlebury Institute for International Studies in Monterey. He is the author of several books, most recently of The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond. You can read his current analysis on Russia at his blog Russian and Eurasian Politics.

Raising Zombie Economics in Ukraine

12 Oct


After a long hiatus, I’ve started writing for Russia! Magazine again. Here’s my re-debut article, “Ukraine’s New Neoliberal Necromancer,” on the Ukrainian Finance Ministry’s hiring of Arthur Laffer as an adviser on tax reform. Here’s a snippet:

As converts to the neoliberal faith, Ukraine’s government is ever eager for spiritual advice.  While the debt standoff in Greece provided opportunity to declare its slavish devotion to austerity, and the recent Yalta European Strategy conference offered “faithful reflection” on “reform,” none of this can substitute getting personal spiritual council from the father of supply-side economics, Arthur Laffer.

In mid-September, in a barely noticed move, Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance named Laffer as an advisor on tax policy. According to the Ministry’s press release, this esteemed economic confidant of Reagan and Thatcher will help Ukraine create a tax system “which should contribute to the increase of investments, economic growth and employment as well as improve the quality of public services for business and thus provide a powerful stimulus for the sustainable economic growth of our country.” This statement’s vapid syntax should not go elided in a world where the “menace of unreality” dislodges materiality. Yet again, despite its utter bankruptcy as policy and principle, the neoliberal incantation that the interests of the “job creators” are the interest of all remains potent voodoo. That the Ukrainian government is now soliciting one of neoliberalism’s most influential necromancers is yet another indication where the Revolution of Dignity is really going.

Read on . . . 

Putin’s Middle East Maneuver

9 Oct


Talal Nezameddin, Dean of Student Affairs at the American University in Beirut and author of Russia and the Middle East: Towards a New Foreign Policy and most recently of Putin’s New Order in the Middle East.