The week at a glance...Europe
May Day rallies: Hundreds of thousands of people protested austerity measures in cities across Europe this week at the annual May Day labor demonstrations. Some of the biggest were in Spain, now in its second recession in three years. Organizers claimed that more than 1 million people turned out for rallies across the country. “This is a May Day against the destruction of jobs,” said union leader Cándido Méndez. He said EU-mandated spending cuts would mean “the demolition of public services in our country.” Spain already has the highest unemployment in the euro zone, at 24 percent overall and 51 percent among young people.
Rally round Tymoshenko: U.S. and European leaders pressed Ukraine this week to allow jailed former leader Yulia Tymoshenko access to medical treatment. European diplomats said that their countries would boycott a major soccer tournament in Ukraine next month unless Tymoshenko was allowed to go to Germany for back surgery. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went further, demanding that the former prime minister be released altogether and that her “civil and political rights” be restored. Tymoshenko, one of the leaders of the 2004 Orange Revolution that brought democracy to Ukraine, was convicted last year of abuse of power on charges Western observers say were bogus. Claiming mistreatment, she has been on a hunger strike for two weeks.