Photo Essay: Sochi, the $50 Billion ‘Ghost Town’

AntiNote: Freelance photographer Alexander Belenkiy posted these photographs* on his livejournal this month, after a trip to Sochi. This is the ghost town he encountered there, only six months after the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Alexander points out in his own commentary that the Olympic Village is not completely abandoned; indeed he took care to include photographs of people there. Ultimately this deepens the images’ chill by providing a sense of scale. Hearing that the Sochi Olympics were a $50 billion waste is somewhat stultifying; seeing the vastness of this crime in (literally) concrete terms really leaves an impression.

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The Normality of War

by Gavin Rae for LeftEast

“What’s abnormal is not the worst. What’s normal, for example, is world war.”
Franz Kafka

The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War takes place in a growing atmosphere of global conflict. The world seems to be once again teetering on the verge of catastrophe. A wave of violence is spreading around the globe, leaving destruction and death in its wake. This surge towards war has developed a momentum that at times seems uncontrollable. Palestine, Ukraine, Libya, Syria, Iraq – the list of conflicts is growing and war is once again becoming normal.

The anniversary of World War One should be a time of deep reflection for the left. How was it possible that the vast majority of the socialist parties in Europe could drop their avowed internationalism and fall in behind the imperialist war adventures of their countries’ elites? How could they become so subsumed with nationalism and chauvinism that they allowed millions of young men to fall on the battlefields?

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Alexei Gaskarov’s Sentencing Statement

Russian anti-fascist Alexei Gaskarov’s statement in court

translated into English by the Russian Reader with an afterword by Gabriel Levy.

The verdicts for the second group of defendants in the Bolotnaya Square case – brought against participants in the Russian protest movement of 2011-12 – will be announced on 18 August in Zamoskvoretsky Court in Moscow. The prosecutor has asked the court to sentence Alexander Margolin and Alexei Gaskarov to four years in prison; Ilya Gushchin to three years and three months in prison; and Elena Kokhtareva to three years and three months suspended, with four years of probation. All four defendants have been charged under Article 212 Part 2 (involvement in riots) and Article 318 Part 1 (use of non-threatening violence against a public official) of the Russian Federal Criminal Code. On 4 August, 28-year-old Alexei Gaskarov made his closing statement in court. This is the complete text of his speech.

Alexei Gaskarov in court. Source: gaskarov.info

Alexei Gaskarov in court. Source: gaskarov.info via LeftEast

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Excuse Me Mister, How Far Is It from Simferopol to Grozny?

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by Antidote’s Laurent Moeri

“When the battle is over and the martyrs sleep, the cowards emerge from the alleys to tell us of their heroism.” – Graffiti in Homs, Syria
Prelude – Mission Impossible

What follows is an attempt at the impossible: a critical review of the situation in Ukraine, the involvement of Putinʼs Russia, and the international Leftʼs capacity (or lack thereof) to respond to social uprisings without repeating prescribed narratives. It is written on one sole premise: that the victims of an eventual military escalation in Ukraine will predominantly be ethnic minorities such as the muslim Crimean Tatars, marginalized groups such as the Sinti and Roma, and the working class—while bureaucrats in Brussels and the Czar and his clan in Moscow will continue to further their respective interests. To highlight the likelihood of this prediction, a comparison will be made between events in Chechnya and Crimea.Continue Reading

Decline of Free Speech

by Alexander Podrabinek for the Institute of Modern Russia

On April 29, Russia’s Federation Council passed a law that tightens government control over the dissemination of information on the Internet and treats bloggers as journalists. A week earlier this so-called “antiterrorism package” was adopted by the State Duma. According to writer Alexander Podrabinek, this law fits in with the current trend in Russia of giving the government a free hand while imposing restrictions on citizens.Continue Reading

Fifty Shades of Brown

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The overthrow of the authoritarian regime of Yanukovych by no means signifies for us the end of our fight. New dictators hasten to take the place of the Party of Regions. They will not hesitate to rely not only on considerably weakened security agencies, but on the far right militants as well. The regime of police and prosecutorial arbitrariness deserved its overthrow unconditionally, but now there may come a time for a new terror that will justify itself ideologically.Continue Reading