Sunday, April 2, 2017

Foreign Digest: Russia, Belarus, Montenegro, Hong Kong, Turkey, Venezuela

           The rise of authoritarianism and the struggle for liberty is the theme of this post.

Protests in Russia and Belarus
            There were unusually large protests a week ago against the dictatorship in Belarus, while those in Russia at the same time were the largest there in years.  Tens of thousands took to the streets in scores of cities across Russia in unauthorized protests against corruption, after a leading opposition figure was able to disseminate a video about the wealth amassed by Russia’s Prime Minister and his extravagant lifestyle.  The Russian Federation is led by an authoritarian regime that is also a kleptocracy, while most of the Russian people have been denied the benefits of the country’s oil wealth, while Russia is spending money on wars in Ukraine and Syria.  The protests continued in Russia this week on a smaller scale, as the size of the ones the weak before surprised everyone and have bolstered the democratic opposition, despite the arrest of several hundred demonstrators, including the opposition leader. 

            Meanwhile, the European Peoples Parties, a European Parliament group of center-right parties from across Europe, condemned the Russian Federation’s undermining of democratic elections in Europe
Montenegro’s admission to NATO
            Montenegro has applied for membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but its accession is being blocked by an isolationist in the United States Senate.  Montenegro fears Russia, especially after the Russians attempted a coup d’etat in the tiny former Yugoslav state in October on its parliamentary election day, in which Russia had backed pro-Russian parties.  The plot included plans to assassinate the Prime Minister, who was reelected.  The accession of Montenegro into NATO would expand the defense alliances’ perimeter and thus limit Russian advances, particularly through its ally, Serbia, which borders Montenegro

Hong Kong’s Pro-Peking Administrator
            The Chinese Communists appointed an administrator who is pro-Peking, despite Chinese promises of autonomy and democracy for the former British territory and despite protests for autonomy and democracy and wins by the democratic opposition in the territory’s administrative council elections.

Turkish Referendum to Increase Presidential Powers
            Turkey, together with Russia and Venezuela, has been among the worst examples of the rise of authoritarianism, especially among democratically-elected governments.  In violation of Turkey’s secular constitution, it has become Islamist under its authoritarian president, even though the Turkish constitution does not establish a presidential state, but one led by the prime minister.  The Turkish President, who is known as the “Sultan,” like the leaders of the Ottoman Turkish Empire and caliphate, has proposed a referendum to increase presidential powers.  He is still using last summer’s attempted coup by the military to conduct purges to limit all opposition.

Venezuela’s Opposition Defends the Separation of Powers
            The Supreme Court had ruled last week in favor of executive rule, stripping the democratically-elected Congress, which is led by the democratic opposition to the authoritarian Socialist regime, of its powers and substituted rule by executive decree in its place.  The democratic opposition had won a two-thirds supermajority in the Venezuelan Congress.  The opposition and the Organization of American States opposed the ruling as a coup d’etat by the dictatorship.  Their pressure was successful in leading the Court to reverse its ruling.  

           The Venezuelan regime has refused to seat some of the members who were elected, thereby denying the opposition their supermajority, which would have provided it with the ability to override presidential vetoes and other powers.  The Socialist dictatorship has also thwarted the opposition’s attempts to free all of Venezuela’s political prisoners and to institute certain democratic reforms and initiate changes in policy.  

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