World in Review, Week of 2/23/14

President of Ukraine flees, dismissed by Parliament


Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital and was removed from power on Saturday by a unanimous vote in parliament as the riots in the country grew ever greater. The country’s lawmakers quickly dismantled the remainder of his government, firing several cabinet members.

Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov has been named interim president of the Ukraine. Beyond this decision, parliament has not appointed any other interim leaders, although full elections have been set for May 25.

Despite no new appointments, foreign minister Leonid Kozhara and education minister Dmytro Tabachnyk were relieved of office, arrest warrants were issued for former incomes minister Oleksandr Klimenko and for prosecutor-general Viktor Pshonka. Parliament voted to seize Yanukovych’s estate near Kiev.


Yanukovych officially stand down, and a warrant for his arrest was issued yesterday. He is last thought to be in Kharkiv after being seen traveling there Friday. Ukrainian officials say he was stopped by border police after attempting to board a private plant heading to Russia.

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister who was recently released from jail as a condition of the EU-Ukraine trade pact, was considered for an immediate major government role until she issued a statement on Saturday requesting not to be considered for the post.

Winter Olympics come to a close


The 2014 Winter Olympic Games, held in Sochi, Russia, ended Sunday after 16 days. The Olympics, held in Russia for the first time since the 1980 Olympics—which the US boycotted—concluded with the gold medal hockey game, an event won by Canada.

Though the Olympics started on a rough note thanks to myriad technical problems (see all the unfinished toilets photos that were the rounds a few weeks ago) and controversy over Russia’s recent anti-gay legislation, the events largely went smoothly.

The final medal count saw host Russia at the top with 33 medals (including 13 golds), the United States in second with 28 and Norway in third with 26. This year’s Olympics had a total of 98 unique events, ranging from curling to ski jumping.

The Americans’ total of 28 medals is down from their 37 at Vancouver four years ago, and the nation failed to medal in individual figure skating for the first time since 1936. Ice skaters Charlie White and Meryl Davis were the only Americans to win multiple medals this year.

The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro and the 2018 Winter Games will take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Three suspected former Auschwitz guards arrested


Three men from Baden-Württemberg, Germany were arrested Wednesday amidst allegations they were former SS guards, and they are suspected of having participated in the mass murders at Auschwitz death camps.

German authorities raided the three men’s homes after prosecutors investigating Nazi war crimes recommended charges against 30 people. The three men, ages 88, 92 and 94 underwent physical examinations, and a judge decided they were able to be held in the prison hospital.

Although raids were carried out at the homes of six men, the three elderly men were the only individuals arrested, as authorities said they lacked evidence to arrest the other three men. The detainees are thought to have served as SS guards at Auschwitz from 1942 to 1944 and various Nazi-related documents were retrieved from their homes.

While previously German authorities had only prosecuted individuals if the evidence demonstrated that the person had actively participated in the murders, in 2011 John Demjanjuk was arrested and deemed complicit in the mass murders for his role as a guard at the Soblibor camp. Though Demjanjuk died while his ruling was being appealed, the case established that all guards can be tried.

Egyptian prime minister resigns


Egypt’s interim prime minister announced his resignation yesterday, according to reports by state-run Nile TV.

Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi, who began serving as prime minister in July when the military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, gave no specific reason for him and his cabinet stepping down in his televised address, but he unexpectedly turned to Interim President Adly Mansour “in light of the current situation the country is going through.”

The state-run Al Ahram news website reported the president asked Beblawi to continue running governmental affairs until a new prime minister is appointed. Mansour is reportedly expected to appoint a prime minister to assemble a cabinet in the transitional period until elections are held in April.

Analysts expect former defense minister and current army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi will run for president. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has expressed its support of an El-Sisi candidacy. If he chooses to run, El-Sisi will have to give up his current post.

With no clear opponent for El-Sisi, analysts say his chances of winning are high. If elected, El-Sisi will be the sixth military leader to govern Egypt since it gained its independence in 1922.

Uganda signs law targeting homosexuals


A bill signed Monday by the Ugandan prime minister is the harshest anti-gay legislation from the government yet, threatening those who engage in homosexual acts with life in prison.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he believes there is no genetic cause for homosexuality and Western culture is imposing homosexuality throughout Africa.

“[Gays] should rehabilitate themselves and society should assist them to do so,” Museveni said after signing the bill.

Members of the international community have voiced their concern over Uganda’s new law, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling today a “tragic day” for Uganda.

“Ultimately, the only answer is repeal of this law,” Kerry said.

President Barack Obama stated the bill, which he termed “abhorrent,” will complicate Ugandan-American relations.

The law punishes first-year offenders with up to 14 years to prison. Aggravated homosexuality––defined as repeated gay sex and acts involving a minor, a disabled person or where one partner is infected with HIV––could result in life imprisonment.

Museveni has called Western groups who oppose the law arrogant.

“We have been disappointed for a long time by the conduct of the West. There is now an attempt at social imperialism,” Museveni said.

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