Global Voices

Russia: Surprise Resignations Threaten New Gubernatorial Elections

The Russian State Duma
The State Duma -- the house of parliament of the Russian Federation. By Michael Chu on flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

On April 25, 2012 the Russian Duma passed a law [ru] that restored direct gubernatorial elections to Russia’s federal subjects, reversing a policy of direct presidential appointments. The law is one of several concessions President Dmitry Medvedev offered in response to the Bolotnaya Square protests last winter. However, on April 28 Medvedev accepted the resignations [ru] of the Governors of Permskiy Krai and Yaroslavkaya Oblast. These resignations have sparked outrage from opposition bloggers who believe that the Kremlin is reneging on promises to loosen its grip on central power.

The Russian Federation is composed of eighty-three “federal subjects” that are a mix of Republics, Oblasts and Krais with various degrees of autonomy. During the tumultuous decade following the collapse of the Soviet Union some of them gained a large measure of independence. Some, like the Chechen Republic, tried to leave the federation altogether. After becoming President, Vladimir Putin consolidated central authority, a campaign that culminated in 2005 with presidential appointments of hitherto elected federal governors. These appointments were a cornerstone of Putin’s “power vertical” framework, and as such, a return to elections seemed welcome reform.

Global Voices

Myanmar: Monitoring the Elections Through Facebook

Election campaign by the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). Image by Demo Waiyan/Facebook.

Myanmar has been implementing a lot of reforms in the past years which included the release from prison of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi, the suspension of a controversial dam project and the unprecedented release of hundreds of political prisoners. And now, it’s time for by-elections.

Two major parties, namely National League for Democracy (NLD), which is led by Aung San Suu Kyi and Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) dominated by former military generals are competing for all 45 places in parliament while some other parties such as The Democratic Party, New National Democracy Party (NDP), National Unity Party (NUP) and so on are competing for fewer places.

Myanmar Facebook users are overwhelmed with different news regarding the election which is coincidentally on April Fools’ Day.

Global Voices

Sri Lanka: Reactions to US Resolution at UNHRC

Image by indi/Flickr.

On 22 March, 2012, 24 countries voted in favour of a US resolution at a UN Human Rights Council meeting on Sri Lanka seeking to encourage the government to implement the recommendations made by the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) and also to credibly investigate allegations of human rights violations during the country’s long lasting civil war against the LTTE.

The move was vehemently opposed by Sri Lanka right from the start and the netizens also voiced their opinions.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka at Groundviews called the US resolution a big lie:

“One of the rankest untruths in the public domain today is that the US resolution is innocuous and unobjectionable because it only seeks to commit the government of Sri Lanka to implement its own LLRC report within a reasonable time frame.”

Global Voices

Serbia: Controversy Over Draža Mihailović’s Rehabilitation

Serbian officers in the company of a British nurse on the Salonika front. Lieutenant Draza Mihailovic (kneeling). Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Dragoljub Draža Mihailović was a commander of the Yugoslav Army in the Homeland, also known as the Chetnik movement, during World War II. In 1946, he was captured by the communist Yugoslav authorities, convicted of high treason and war crimes, sentenced to death and executed.

The tribunal for his rehabilitation, which began in June 2010 on the request by Draža’s grandson Vojislav Mihailović, is nearing the end now. Although the request has been supported by some academicians, professors and politicians, the public in Serbia is divided. For some, Draža Mihailović is an innocent victim, for others, he is a justly convicted collaborator of the occupiers, who committed crimes not only in Serbia, but in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia as well.

Global Voices

Bolivia: A Serious Bid to Lift UN Ban on the Coca Leaf?

Coca leaves on a table at a coca-growers' meeting. Image by jusada/Flickr.

Demonstrations and public acts, led by both coca growers and traders, took place on Monday, March 12, 2012, in many cities in Bolivia demanding the international depenalisation of the coca leaf.

Local media informed [es] that 40 thousand people were due to join “coca-chewing day” [referred to in Bolivia as acullicu orpijcheo].

These public events are part of the Bolivian government’s international strategy for depenalising the coca leaf, and took place at the same time that President Evo Morales, himself a former coca grower and union leader, was addressing the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna, Austria three years after his last visit.