In Istanbul’s shadow, protesters stage rally

Chastened by the protests in
Istanbul, Muscovites rallied Wednesday in a show of support for the 12 opposition defendants on trial for their actions a year ago in a clash with Russian police.

The turnout was far lower than in the protests of a year ago, which drew tens of thousands, but participants Wednesday — the Russia Day holiday — said they wanted to remind the public, and one another, that the opposition hadn’t disappeared.

“We haven’t come to terms,” said Maria Sakson, a 36-year-old architect. She can only look wistfully at Istanbul, which has seen huge protests this month.

“There are so many more brave people there than here,” she said.

Wednesday’s demonstration, called the March Against Executioners, was organized to show solidarity with those who were charged with rioting after a rally May 6, 2012, on the eve of Vladi­mir Putin’s inauguration as president. Some remain in jail, having not yet been tried.

Putin, meanwhile, extolled democracy at the founding congress of the Popular Front, a political organization he is forming now that the ruling United Russia party has become a damaged brand, disparaged as the “party of crooks and thieves.”

— Will Englund

Kuwaiti premier in Baghdad for talks

Kuwait’s prime minister discussed bilateral ties with his Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad on Wednesday, signaling improving relations between neighbors still working to overcome the more than two-decade legacy of war.

The warming bonds between Shiite-led Iraq and Sunni-ruled Kuwait are noteworthy in a region increasingly plagued by the sectarian divisions evident in Syria’s civil war and in Iraq, which is struggling to contain its worst eruption of violence in years.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki greeted Sheik Jaber al-Mubarak al-Sabah on the airport tarmac before the two men sat down for talks. Officials later signed several accords aimed at improving ties in the economic, transportation and other sectors.

— Associated Press


Irish abortion foes send letters in blood: Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said antiabortion
activists in his mainly Catholic country are inundating his office with threatening packages and letters condemning him as a baby-killer, some written in blood. But Kenny told lawmakers his government is determined to reform Ireland’s blanket ban on abortion in a bill that was set to be published Wednesday night after months of backroom haggling. The proposed law would allow doctors to perform abortions only in rare cases in which the woman’s life is endangered from continued pregnancy, including from threatened suicide.

Mandela ‘responding better’: Former president Nelson Mandela began “responding better to treatment” for a recurring lung infection following “a difficult last few days,” South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said. Zuma noted that Wednesday was the 49th anniversary of the sentencing of the anti-apartheid icon to life in prison in 1964 and said that “our thoughts” are with Mandela and his family “on this crucial historical anniversary.”

Strike over E.U. plan snarls European flights: A strike by air traffic controllers forced cancellations of more than 60 percent of flights around France and disrupted travel elsewhere in Europe as workers protested a plan to simplify the continent’s patchwork airspace. The three-day walkout was set to end Thursday.

Mexico detains 12 in women’s killings: Twelve people have been arrested in connection with the slayings of 11 young women whose skeletal remains were found near the northern border city of Juarez last year. The suspects include alleged drug dealers, pimps and small-store owners suspected of forcing young women into prostitution and drug dealing and killing them when they were “no longer of use,” the Chihuahua state prosecutors’ office said.

— From news services