A protester shouts before a clash with riot police in Kiev on Sunday December 1st. Photo: DPA/EPA/SERGEY DOLZHENKO
Published: 02 Dec 2013
Ukraine's biggest pro-democracy rallies since the 2004 Orange Revolution have demanded President Viktor Yanukovych's resignation over his rejection, under Russian pressure, of a pact seeking closer ties between the ex-Soviet state and the EU."The demonstrations are an impressive commitment to Europe by hundreds of thousands of people in Ukraine," said a statement by Germany's outgoing Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. "They show that the heart of the Ukrainian people beats in a European way."
Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert said: "The demonstrations send a very clear message. Hopefully Ukrainian President Yanukovych is hearing this message."
The spokesman added that "the use of violence against peaceful protesters must be a cause for concern.” He urged all sides to avoid further escalation and called on Ukraine's government to protect the rights to free speech and assembly.
The economically struggling nation of 46 million people was thrown into crisis when Yanukovych snubbed EU leaders at a summit on Friday and refused a deal that would have paved Ukraine's way to eventual membership in the 28-nation bloc.
EU leaders primarily blamed the decision on the stinging economic punishments Russia had mooted should Ukraine take the fateful step toward the West.
As Obama Stands Silent, Putin Crushes Freedom Online
Moscow zeroes in on another lonely voice of opposition.by Kim Zigfeld
"The motto Vladimir Putin lives by is simple: If you can’t beat them, jail them. If you can’t jail them, kill them. And make no mistake: these days Putin is able to live by that motto in large part because of the craven cowardice of U.S. President Barack Obama.
A man holds a sledgehammer as he smashes a statue of Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin, which was toppled by protesters during a rally organized by supporters of EU integration in Kiev, December 8, Credit: REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
The definitive case in point is that of attorney activist Alexei Navalny.
By choosing Putin, the proud KGB spy, Russians were supposed to be gaining strict law and order in exchange for civil rights and liberties. What’s actually happened is that they’ve got the worst of all possible worlds.
"The stronger Navalny has become — in just the past three months, his website has garnered 6.5 million rubles in donations from thousands of people all across Russia — the more pressure he has felt from the Kremlin. Just as with Khodorkovsky, a presidential election approaches; Russians begin to think Navalny would be a good candidate; confidence in the Kremin wavers (last month, approval dropped below a majority). The pressure has reached a crescendo.
"In response, the Kremlin’s assault on Navalny has been sudden, relentless, and brutal. First came a massive DDOS cyber attack on Navalny’s website, knocking it off the Internet. Then came KGB pressure on Yandex, the Russian PayPal, to reveal the names and addresses of Navalny’s Internet donors. Then, a wave of harassing phone calls to those donors from Nashi, Putin’s youth cult. Now, to round things out, the Kremlin has announced a criminal investigation, which could put Navalny in prison for five years — maybe even in a Siberian cell right next to Khodorkovsky.
That’s if Navalny is lucky. But maybe he won’t be.
"Maybe the Kremlin will decide it can’t afford a long, drawn-out trial and is only using the threat of prosecution to see if it will silence Navalny. If that doesn’t work, maybe the Kremlin won’t risk allowing Navalny to generate the kind of publicity that Khodorkovsky has been able to manage (he gives interviews and releases opinion pieces from his jail cell). Maybe, instead, the Kremlin will decide to implement the “Politkovskaya solution” and simply have Navalny killed.
"...Today, Obama meets with Putin’s hand-picked puppet “president” Dmitri Medvedev, munches burgers, and offers the unilateral withdrawal of U.S. ballistic missile defense systems from Eastern Europe — as well as a nuclear arms treaty that calls upon only the U.S. to cut ICBMs.
"...a whole host of murders of Putin’s political foes. Not once was a killer brought to justice.
"If Obama does not speak up soon, the world may well see Navalny’s name added to that list — and an iron curtain descending once again across the continent of Europe."
Our Dear Leader:
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee formally begins consideration today of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) following its official submission to the Senate last week for advice and consent. President Obama has called for the treaty to be approved before the November elections; a busy Senate schedule makes the actual timing unclear. December 08, 2013