World View: Europeans Broker 'Peace Agreement' in Ukraine

This morning's key headlines from

  • Europeans broker a 'peace agreement' in Ukraine
  • Ukraine's parliament votes to free president's arch-enemy from jail
  • Venezuela and other countries increasingly block press freedom

Europeans broker a 'peace agreement' in Ukraine

Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych's arch-enemy
Yulia Tymoshenko, Yanukovych's arch-enemy

With violence growing in Ukraine and the country becoming increasingly lawless and ungovernable, foreign ministers from Poland, France, and Germany brokered a Ukraine peace agreement between president Viktor Yanukovych and the leaders of the opposition. Whether the agreement will be fully implemented remains to be seen, and it leaves Yanukovych in power, at least for the time being, in defiance of the key demand of the opposition that he step down. Instead, the agreement calls for new elections by December, which opposition leaders say is far too late. However, the opposition signed because European leaders warned them that the alternative was martial law. 

Under the agreement, Ukraine's parliament voted to restore the 2004 constitution, limiting some of Yanukovych's power and giving more power to the parliament. The parliament also voted to fire the interior minister who ordered police violence that resulted in hundreds of deaths. 

It's not clear how much support the agreement will continue to have. In particular, the Russian envoy to the negotiations originally initialed the agreement, but then disappeared before the final signing, apparently on orders from Moscow. 

Some people sang Ukraine's national anthem after the agreement: 

Ukraine has not yet perished,
The glory and the freedom!
Still upon us brave brothers,
Fate shall smile!
Our enemies will vanish
Like dew in the sun;
We too shall rule
In our country.

That's the original 1863 version. In later versions, the first two lines were changed to: "Ukraine's glory has not yet perished, nor her freedom." AP

Ukraine's parliament votes to free president's arch-enemy from jail

After the agreement was signed, Ukraine's parliament voted to free Yulia Tymoshenko, a bitter political enemy of President Viktor Yanukovych. Tymoshenko became a world recognized figure in 2004 for her distinctive mix of peasant hair and high-fashion dresses, after she played a major role in the 2004 "Orange Revolution" that ousted Viktor Yanukovych, the current president, from power. Tymoshenko herself became prime minister in 2007, but then lost the 2010 election to Yanukovych. 

Yanukovych got his revenge in 2011 by sending Tymoshenko to jail on charges that many consider to be trumped up. The European Union has been demanding that Tymoshenko be freed, and now the parliament has agreed. However, there's no timetable for freeing her. 

She's developed back problems in jail, so it's not clear whether she is capable of entering politics again, but if she did and joined the opposition against Yanukovych, then watching those two fight it out would be quite a spectacle. AP and AFP

Venezuela and other countries increasingly block press freedom

On Thursday, Venezuela's president Nicolás Maduro announced that he would expel CNN if it did not "rectify" its coverage of anti-government protests, saying, "They [CNN] want to show the world that there is a civil war in Venezuela." 

On Friday, Maduro carried out his threat, notifying seven journalists for CNN International and CNN en Español that their press credentials had been denied or revoked and that they should book flights back home. So far, CNN International and CNN en Español continue to broadcast in Venezuela. 

Increasingly, countries around the world are taking legal measures to restrict press freedom when the press doesn't support the government. Besides Venezuela, examples are: 

  • Egypt has declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a "terrorist organization," and has arrested 20 journalists from al-Jazeera who have been covering the news in Egypt, accusing them of terrorism for their reports on MB. The arrests include four foreigners, an Australian, two Britons, and one Dutch, accusing them of "airing false news" to "undermine the state's status and disrupt public security." Al-Jazeera has called the charges absurd.
  • Russian officials are becoming increasingly panicked over the chaos in Ukraine, fearing that similar anti-government protests could take place in Moscow. Russia has already shut down one popular cable channel for taking occasional anti-Putin positions and is now threatening another one.
  • In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the Obama administration proposed a new program, "Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs," which would place government monitors in the newsrooms of TV networks, "news and talk-radio stations," and newspaper companies across the United States. Both liberal and conservative groups expressed outrage, and the administration was forced to back down, at least for the time being. The administration has frequently sought to use its power to intimidate Fox News Channel and has even threatened Fox's White House reporter James Rosen with criminal charges, which were later dropped.

Other countries, like China and Iran, have strict controls on all media, most of which is state-owned. CNN and Al-Ahram (Cairo) and Jamestown and Washington Times

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Ukraine, Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych, Yulia Tymoshenko, Poland, France, Germany, Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, CNN, Egypt, al-Jazeera, Russia, Fox News Channel 

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