Masha Gessen’s Facebook Fuckup

Throughout the entire debacle that’s unfolded on Masha Gessen’s Facebook page over the past 24 hours, a phrase keeps coming to mind that I’m not sure how to explain: “You’ve got to hand it to her.” But why exactly? For what? There’s something awe-inspiring about Gessen’s sloppy, malicious attack on Anna Arutunyan, just as I’m amazed by Gessen’s ability to lose jobs and piss off colleagues at Snob, Vokrug Sveta, and Radio Liberty in the course of two years. You’ve got to hand it to Gessen for an uncanny, unrivaled ability to shit all over everything.

Continue reading ‘Masha Gessen’s Facebook Fuckup’ »

Pissing into an Ocean of Piss: Max Seddon, Jen Psaki, & the Kremlin’s Trolls

Over the past few weeks, the Internet group Anonymous International has leaked several hundred hacked emails belonging to people who apparently work at a marketing firm called the “Agency of Internet Research” (Агентство Интернет Исследований). I downloaded this stolen data (just kidding, law enforcement officers!), and the vast majority of the emails are excruciatingly boring. It’s everything you’d expect to find in anyone’s inbox—spam, an iTunes receipt for “We’re the Millers,” reminders to update your Crackle user information. And then there are lots of accounting documents, scanned receipts, and reports about managing a team of paid Internet trolls to flood American websites with comments and posts defending the Kremlin and attacking US foreign policy.

Yuck. “Do not want.” Continue reading ‘Pissing into an Ocean of Piss: Max Seddon, Jen Psaki, & the Kremlin’s Trolls’ »

One Does Not Simply Report on the Russian Internet!

Sadly, I don’t write very often in this blog any more. Ever since becoming Project Editor of RuNet Echo at Global Voices Online, I’ve devoted my Russia Watching efforts to that website. Still, though, I renew the domain every year, happy to keep AGT alive for the future, and for times when I want to share more personal observations.

I recently attended a Russia experts conference, where I discussed the challenges facing those of us involved in work that mixes journalism, analysis, and blogging. I’m posting the text of my remarks to this blog, as I think the issues I mention are important to people working in this field and to people reading work in this field. Continue reading ‘One Does Not Simply Report on the Russian Internet!’ »

The Kremlin Isn’t Scapegoating Gays, It’s Scapegoating Us

Like many Americans, I’ve followed with disgust the stream of anti-gay legislation vomited into Russian law over the last year. From St. Petersburg’s ban on “homosexual propaganda” (in the presence of minors), to the federal parliament’s adoption of the same ban, to Duma Deputy Alexey Zhuravlev’s proposition this week to strip gay parents of their own children, the escalating assault on gays’ rights is sickening. Continue reading ‘The Kremlin Isn’t Scapegoating Gays, It’s Scapegoating Us’ »

Navalny’s Montenegrin Kryptonite or Russia’s Invulnerable Candidate?

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

When Alexey Navalny decided to run for the Moscow Mayor’s office, he probably expected to learn a lot about his enemies—the various masters and minions of Kremlin politics. Certainly, that has happened. As regular as clockwork, he has blogged exposés [ru] about incumbent Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s luxurious apartments, which he suspiciously registered in his daughters’ names. More recently, Navalny’s campaign has played up [ru] Vladimir Putin’s sloppy attention to procedural details, which required the President to issue written permission for Sobyanin’s candidacy after the latter’s “resignation.” (The Kremlin later offered up a slapdash [ru] substitute.) Continue reading ‘Navalny’s Montenegrin Kryptonite or Russia’s Invulnerable Candidate?’ »

As Navalny Goes, So Goes the New Russia

When writing about Russia, everyone faces the tension between continuity and change that is inherent in all history. Since December 2011’s fraudulent parliamentary elections and the drama that has unfolded in the protest movement, the pendulum of commentary on Russia has swung toward an emphasis on change.

Read the rest of this article at Russia! magazine here.


The Moscow Mayor’s Mischievous Viral Marketing

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

Throughout the Moscow mayor’s race, Alexey Navalny’s campaign has taken a beating from all sides on questions about financing, nationalism, and even transparency. A wide array of government actors and pro-Kremlin interests have harassed him with allegations of illegal foreign funding and off-the-books campaign materials, and even fellow oppositionists worry about his potentially racist attitude toward migrant workers from the Russian south and near abroad. Continue reading ‘The Moscow Mayor’s Mischievous Viral Marketing’ »

Russia’s Soviet Assault on Navalny’s Online Fundraising

This article was originally published on Global Voices here.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, one of Russia’s zaniest and most profane politicians, declared on the radio yesterday that Alexey Navalny should rot behind bars rather than run for Moscow Mayor. “Let him die there, and be buried in the prison cemetery,” Zhirinovsky fumed [ru] on Ekho Moskvy, Monday, August 12, 2013. Earlier that day, the Attorney General announced [ru] that it had partly corroborated a complaint by Zhirinovsky, who warned earlier in the month that Navalny’s online fundraising methods violate Russian campaign finance laws. According to the government’s official statement, prosecutors have sent their evidence to the Ministry of the Interior for a decision about possible criminal charges. Continue reading ‘Russia’s Soviet Assault on Navalny’s Online Fundraising’ »