The news at a glance...International


Yekaterinburg, Russia

Monument to Yeltsin: Russia has erected its first monument to Boris Yeltsin—and it’s nowhere near Moscow, where he is deeply unpopular. A relief of Russia’s first president, carved into white marble, was unveiled this week in his hometown of Yekaterinburg. Yeltsin rose to prominence in 1991, when he famously climbed onto a tank to turn back an attempted coup against the reformist Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. After the dissolution of the USSR, Yeltsin presided over democratic reforms, but also over a breakneck transition to capitalism that saw the rise of corrupt oligarchs. Today, many Russians blame him for endemic corruption and an ailing economy. Yeltsin died in 2007; the statue was unveiled on what would have been his 80th birthday.


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Don’t mention Egypt: Chinese Internet censors have blocked online discussion of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt. On Sina, a Twitter-like service used by more than 50 million people in China, a search for “Egypt” brings up a message saying, “According to relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the search results are not shown.” On major news sites and in newspapers, coverage of the events in Egypt have been limited to a few curt paragraphs. The government issued an order to all media forbidding any translation of foreign media coverage and saying that any website that failed to delete reader comments about Egypt would be “shut down by force.”


Sex tapes: Indonesia’s top pop singer was sentenced to three and a half years in jail this week after sex tapes of him and his two TV-star girlfriends circulated on the Internet, violating pornography laws in the conservative Muslim country. Clips of Nazril “Ariel” Irham, the lead singer of Peterpan, in bed with the two women, separately, quickly went viral as people passed them along on their mobile phones. Irham, the first celebrity to be charged under Indonesia’s strict 2008 anti-pornography law, said the tapes were posted online without his consent. But the judge said he had done nothing to prevent their dissemination. “As a public figure, the defendant should be aware that fans might imitate his behavior,” the judge said.

Lahore, Pakistan

U.S. diplomat held: The U.S. is demanding the release of a U.S. diplomat arrested in Lahore last week for shooting and killing two Pakistanis. Officials at the U.S. Embassy identified the man only as a diplomat and said he’d acted in self-defense during an attempted carjacking. But they refused to say in what capacity the man works for the government. Pakistani officials, though, identified the man as Raymond Davis, owner of security firm Hyperion Protective Consultants, and said he did not qualify for diplomatic immunity. Some Pakistani newspapers said the confusion surrounding Davis’s job and the fact that he was armed—diplomats are not allowed to carry weapons in Pakistan—mean Davis might be a CIA agent.

Islamabad, Pakistan

More nukes: Pakistan has been steadily ramping up production of uranium and plutonium and now has more nuclear weapons than India. Intelligence assessments cited in The Washington Post and The New York Times this week said Pakistan had doubled its weapons stockpile in the past few years and was on track to overtake Britain and France to become the world’s fourth-largest nuclear power, after the U.S., Russia, and China. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the stories amounted to “unnecessary alarmist reporting.” Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.N., Zamir Akram, accused the U.S. of “double standards and discrimination” for pushing a global treaty banning future production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. Pakistan, citing its need to keep pace with India, has been blocking progress on the treaty.

Amman, Jordan

King bows to protests: Seeking to head off the kind of mass demonstrations seen in Egypt, Jordan’s King Abdullah II fired his entire government this week and appointed a new one. He told new Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to “correct the mistakes of the past” and institute political reforms. Jordanians have been protesting in the streets in recent weeks—albeit in far lesser numbers than Egyptians and with less-sweeping demands, which seem to be being met. The Islamic Action Front, Jordan’s main opposition group and a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would work with the new government. “There is no comparison between Egypt and Jordan,” said the group’s leader, Hamza Mansour. “The people there demand a regime change, but here we ask for political reforms and an elected government.”

Kampala, Uganda

Gay activist killed: David Kato, the father of the Ugandan gay-rights movement, was found bludgeoned to death in his home last week. Police said the motive was robbery, but activists said he was murdered for being gay. Persecution of gays is commonplace in Uganda, where the parliament is considering a bill to execute homosexuals and a newspaper recently printed photos of Kato and other gays with the headline, “Hang them.” Some blamed U.S. Christian groups for supporting Ugandan anti-gay programs. “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, head of a Ugandan gay-rights group. They “must take responsibility for David’s blood.”

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