S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Around the edges of Europe -

Russians and Turks struggle. This Saturday's regular post on the news from other nations focuses on how difficult it is to establish and maintain functional democracies.
Hope was high for Russia following the cold war. But its fragile democratic values have diminished under the Putin government. Protest has become increasingly dangerous for those speaking out against Putin's methods, as the following stories illustrate.
[Update at 6:30 PM: see story of protesters beaten from My Way News]

"Putin Opponents Step up Pressure" reports the BBC News today. To quote:

Opponents of the Russian president are to take to the streets of Moscow to protest against what they say is the trampling of democratic freedoms.
The coalition of opposition movements, known as Other Russia, says Saturday will be a "March of Dissent".
Government clamps down - A headline followed a bit later: "Kasparov arrested at Moscow rally," also in BBC News. To quote,
Police have arrested Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov at a banned anti-Kremlin rally in Moscow.
He was detained during a huge security operation to prevent protesters from gathering at Pushkin Square. Police deny reports he has now been freed.
The former chess champion leads the United Civil Front group, part of the opposition coalition Other Russia.
. . . Mr Kasparov's swift arrest followed warnings by the prosecution office on the eve of the march, stating that anyone participating risked being detained.
Government newspeak - Ria Novosti, the Russian News and Information agency has its own version of what happened. To quote the entire story,

MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - Police have detained about 250 participants of the banned opposition March of Dissent in downtown Moscow, a law enforcement source said Saturday.
"About 250 participants of mass events were detained Saturday, mainly for administrative offenses," the source said.
Some 9,000 policemen have been summoned to provide security in Moscow during the march that gathered supporters and members of the Other Russia organization that includes the People's Patriotic Union led by former Premier Mikhail Kasyanov, the banned National Bolshevik Party, the United Civil Front led by world chess champion Garry Kasparov and the Republican Party.
A Moscow police spokesman said police are taking Kasparov, detained earlier for alleged calls to break through the police cordon, to a court that will decide whether he had committed the offense he is accused of.
Human rights advocates in Russia and abroad have criticized the Kremlin for tightening its grip on democracy and human freedoms ever since Vladimir Putin took presidential office in 2000. However, polls show that the majority of Russians support the country's leader for stability and economic growth Russia has enjoyed under his rule.
(flag courtesy of:

Will Turkey become another Islamist governed country?

There is increased pressure from religious elements in Turkey to take over that currently sectarian-style nation. That would certainly doom any chance Turkey would have to join the European Union. The headline is this: "Turkey's secularism 'threatened'" in a report from the BBC News:
Turkey's outgoing president has warned the country's secular system faces its greatest threat since the founding of the republic in 1923.
President Ahmet Necdet Sezer said attempts to bring religion into politics were stirring social tensions. His comments come as Turkey prepares for elections which could see the current religious-minded prime minister becoming president if he stands.
A mass protest is planned to take place on Saturday in the capital, Ankara.

Turkey threatens to invade Kurdish Iraq. (Kurdish flag from Wikipedia)
Evidently Turkey is looking to do what we feared would happen when we first invaded Iraq. Russia's Ria Novosti carried the story from which I quote,

Turkey's intrusion into the north of Iraq to conduct a military operation against Kurdish separatists based there would be tantamount to a declaration of war, a senior MP in Iraq's Kurdish autonomy said Friday. The Turkish Army chief of staff said Thursday it was necessary to carry out a military operation against Kurdish insurgents in northern Iraq.
Gen. Yasr Buyukanit said the Turkish Army was currently conducting large-scale operations in different parts of southeast Turkey against the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), adding that 13 Turkish servicemen had been killed in action against the separatists so far this year.
"If Turkey starts an Army operation on Kurdish soil, it would be treated as a direct declaration of war on Iraq as a whole," said Kemal Kerkuki, deputy parliament speaker of the Kurdish parliament, according to ANKA news agency.
Around the edges of Europe - The foreign policy efforts of the United States continue to look weak and ineffectual against governments who act aggressively toward citizens who want to live in freedom. That is very ironic because the rhetoric of the current administration is always talking up democracy, particularly for Iraq. It seems that the only way we can think of to influence democracy has been at the point of a gun. You can see how well that has worked in Iraq. Now we may not even be able to protect their Kurdish region, to this point the most peaceful area in the country.
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My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Good Second Mondays is about testing one's assumptions.


betmo said...

i predict that western style democracy is on its way out and the islamic world is on the rise. unless asian nations like china stop the flow. doesn't look good.

Carol Gee said...

Thanks, betmo. It is an interesting feeling, isn't it? I do not think we would be thinking such things if the Supreme Court had not taken the 2000 election away from Al Gore. But I shouldn't even go there.
Wait for 2008!