The controversial trial of three members of the Russian feminist activist group Pussy Riot ended Aug. 17 with the announcement of a guilty verdict and two-year prison sentence for each of the three women. The Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow found Pussy Riot members Natalia Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich guilty of "hooliganism" characterized by the court as driven by religious hatred. The three women were tried for their "guerilla performance" of a protest song in February at the altar of downtown Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral, a space maintained to be sacred to the Russian Orthodox Church. Defense counsel for the women lambasted the prosecution and reiterated their intent to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights both the verdict and alleged rights violations that have occurred throughout the trial.
Photos of Teddy Bears Land Belarus Student Behind Bars
Anton Surapin did what millions do every day: he posted photos of something interesting online. But he lives in ex-Soviet Belarus, the most authoritarian state in Europe, and the photographs in question were of teddy bears that had just parachuted out of the sky carrying a pro-human rights message.
Well, if you thought that France getting a new Socialist president, François Hollande, was going to mean a retreat from the Franco-dystopia that unfolded under his reactionary predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy—time to think again. Sarkozy's election in 2007 saw the outburst of an intifada by North African immigrant youth in the Parisian suburbs, followed by the unleashing of police repression. Not much later, Sarkozy instated a harsh crackdown on the Roma, ordering police to break up their camps, sparking more protests and an official censure of France by the European Commission. So what a sense of deja vu... Hollande now says his government will use "all means" necessary to restore peace after a new uprising by immigrant youth—this time centered around the northern city of Amiens—left more than a dozen police officers injured and several buildings damaged or destroyed. (LAT, Aug. 15)
Hundreds of anarchists from all over the world gathered Aug. 8-12 in the town of Saint-Imier in the Jura region of Switzerland to mark the 140th anniversary of a congress which saw the anarchists break with the workers' movement dominated by Karl Marx. The International Anarchism Gathering called for public protests and strikes to oppose austerity measures imposed in response to the European debt crisis. "Capitalism goes from crisis to crisis, so this is an opportunity for us," said Aristides Pedraza, one of the event organizers.
Some 30,000 people gathered July 11 to remember the massacre of an estimated 8,000 captive Muslims, mostly men and boys, on that day in 1995 at the eastern Bosnian town of Srebrenica, when it was overrun by besieging Serb rebel forces. The remains of 520 newly identified victims of the massacre, in rows of green-draped coffins, were buried during a commemoration ceremony at the Potocari memorial cemetery outside the town. Among the remains were those of six children and four women, the eldest aged 94. With them, the total laid to rest in Srebrenica comes to 5,657. After years on the run, Bosnian Serb military leader Ratko Mladic and political leader Radovan Karadzic face genocide charges at The Hague for the massacre (Europe's worst since World War II) and other crimes committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war that left some 100,000 dead. Both deny all charges.
Four explosions that rocked an eastern Ukrainian city Dnepropetrovsk April 27 injured at least 27 and have authorities scratching their heads. The usual jihadist suspects have not been ruled out. CNN's Global Public Square blog tells us: "From 2003 to 2008, Ukraine had some 1,600 soldiers in Iraq, and it is one of only two post-Soviet countries contributing troops to the NATO mission in Afghanistan, though Ukraine's contingent numbers less than two dozen." (Wikipedia puts the number of post-Soviet states with troops in Afghanistan at five: Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.) "Ukraine might also have been a victim due to its close association with Russia, a country on Islamic extremists' list of enemies because of the ongoing Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus..." But Ukrainian conspiracy theorists have been very busy over the past 24 hours concocting theories related to the country's own internal political crisis...
The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled April 13 that the relatives of Bosnian men killed by Serb forces in 1995 cannot sue the UN for failing to protect them during the massacres. The ruling essentially held that the UN is immune from prosecution in Dutch courts. The group bringing the lawsuit, known as the Mothers of Srebrenica, are claiming that the UN is liable for their failure to protect civilians during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The UN is claiming that it is immune, citing Article 2 Section 2 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN, which says that the UN "shall enjoy immunity from every form of legal process except it has expressly waived its immunity." Both a District Court at The Hague and the Supreme Court agreed with the UN, but the Mothers of Srebrenica have said they plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.