Russian LGBTQ and New Left Activism

Guest: Jessica Mason on LGBTQ activism and the New Left in Russia.

The Perils of Donbas Fatigue

Guest: Brian Milakovsky on the life in the Donbas.

Russian Labor, Class, and Conflict

Guest: Steven Crowley on the Russian labor movement.

Mapping Russian Labor Conflict

In July, the Center for Economic and Political Reform, a think tank that monitors and studies social and economic issues in Russia, released a report on labor conflict in the second quarter of 2016. In this period, TsEPR identified 263 incidents in 65 regions in Russia, 34 more than the first quarter. Fifty-six were specifically labor protests (hunger strikes, strikes, pickets, etc).

The overwhelming majority of these incidents, 171, concerned unpaid wages. The most recent examples of workers’ efforts to fight for unpaid wages are the ongoing hunger strike of 175 miners in Rostov province under the slogan “We are not slaves” and AvtoVAZagregata autoworkers, who haven’t been paid for almost a year, blocking a federal highway. This action was in response Samara’s governor Nikolai Merkushkin cutting down a worker’s question about her back pay with, “Well, I want to say that if you speak in that tone, [it will be] never! Never!”

As this TsEPR map of labor conflict throughout Russia shows these workers fighting for their rights are hardly alone.

point-red Protests connected with labor conflicts (strikes, pickets, etc)
point-yellow Reduction of work hours
point-blue3 Withholding pay (various pay)
point-orange1 Layoffs
point-green2 Reduction of pay
point-purple Protests unconnected to labor conflicts


Russia’s New Anti-Terror Laws

Guest: Gleb Bogush on Russia’s anti-terror laws.

Love, Sex, and Porn in Russia



Natalia Antonova is a pundit, playwright and sometime journalist living in Russia. You can read her blog where she comments a wide variety of topics, including sex, at nataliaantonova.com. Her most recent article is “Russia’s Porn Stars Aren’t Just Hot, They’re Also Ostracised And Exploited” on Open Democracy.


Prince and the Revolution, “Darling Nikki,” Purple Rain, 1984.

The Callousness of Russian Intensive Care Units


I don’t normally hype the translations I’ve been doing on side for Meduza’s English portal. I feel I don’t need to promote everything.

But I wanted to draw readers to this recent translation I did of Katerina Gordeeva’s article “The business of breathing How Vladimir Putin tried and failed to help Russia’s sickest children” on terminally ill children and how their parents can’t visit them in ICU and Russian charities’ struggle to provide families with respirators so they can have their kids at home. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I have a 5 year-old daughter the thought of being in a situation like this truly frightens me. I really feel for these children and their parents. I just can’t imagine what it’s like for them. I just can’t.

It was really emotionally hard for me to translate this article. But it’s something I’m honored Meduza asked me to do. More non-Russian readers interested in the country need to be aware of these issues, issues many, many Russians with family members in ICU must deal with. I wasn’t until I started reading this incredible journalism.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

For the first three hours, Lydia (a pseudonym) sat on a chair staring at a crack between the tiles on the opposite wall. Then she started to gasp. Suddenly all the unshed tears for her sick daughter flowed and it was impossible to hold them back. Lydia’s legs turned to rubber bands, and she could no longer get up. She no longer had the strength to go find a doctor, and look him in the eye and ask him to let her into the intensive care unit for at least a minute.

She thought to herself, “If they let me in, I’ll find a way to stay.”

Technically speaking, there were 100 feet between Lydia and her daughter Nastya (a pseudonym). Lydia sat in the hallway, and Nastya was lying in intensive care. This was at a children’s hospital in a Moscow suburb. It was the weekend, and the doctor on duty said he couldn’t authorize Lydia’s access to her own daughter. And he refused to call the head doctor and bother him on his day off.

Lydia returned home around nighttime. She took her brother’s hunting rifle and wrapped it in rags. She got into a taxi and drove to the hospital. With the rifle at her hip, she advanced in the direction of the intensive care unit.

At this point, everything became a blur: Lydia screams, someone wrings her arms, someone else calls the police, doctors and nurses are running around, and there’s the smell of ammonia. And from somewhere above, the voice of the doctor on duty rings out: “Do what you want! She’s dead! She’s dead! She’s gone!”

The Mysterious Poisoning of Vladimir Kara-Murza



Carl Schreck, journalist who has been reporting on Russia for fifteen years. He’s worked for the Moscow Times, RIA Novosti, and currently for RFE/RL. His most recent article is “Poison Puzzle: A Search For Answers In Kremlin Critic’s Mysterious Illness.”

Music: David Bowie, “Moonage Daydream,” The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, 1972

Ukraine’s Refugee Crisis


Brian Milakovsky, a volunteer with refugee aid organizations in Kiev, Kharkiv and the Donbas. Brian Milakovsky first traveled to Ukraine in 2009 with the Fulbright program, and for the past five years has worked in Russia as a forest ecologist. This year he returned to eastern Ukraine for three months to volunteer with refugee aid organizations and learn more about the humanitarian crisis there. He blogs about this experience at http://milakovsky.livejournal.com/ and is author of “Time for a Lousy Peace in Ukraine” published on the National Interest.

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