France has rejected the European Union's constitution in a national referendum, in a blow to President Jacques Chirac and European integration. 56% voted against the treaty, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said, citing official results with 90% of ballots counted. The defeat, the first veto of an EU pact by a founding member, may kill the constitution, which requires the approval of all 25 nations. It may also end Chirac's hopes of seeking re-election in 2007, after his failure to curb unemployment at a 5-year high. The result may set back plans by countries including Turkey and Croatia to join. The euro fell after the exit polls.
Police in Edinburgh are asking for a ban on a major anti-war rally slated for the Scottish capital during the G8 summit meeting, alleging that its organizers have been linked with "violence and disruption." The UK's Stop the War Coalition wants to hold the rally four days before the G8 summit opens the first week of July at the nearby resort of Gleneagles.
A team from the United States is expected to arrive in Bulgaria within days for talks on possible US military bases, Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov told a news conference on May 17. Svinarov’s announcement on May 17 confirmed a statement by Bulgarian armed forces chief Nikola Kolev made a few days earlier. "Bulgaria also hopes to get support for the modernisation of its army - rather than financial remuneration - in exchange for the use of its military facilities," Svinarov said. “A decision when the foreign bases will start operating in Bulgaria will be taken by Parliament under national law." He said he expected such a decision by the end of this year. (Sofia Echo, May 23) Graf Ignatievo, Bezmer, Novo Selo and Sarafovo airport, near Burgas on the Black Sea coast, are named as locations for the new US bases. (Sofia News Agency, May 18)
President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus, who leads a Moscow-aligned Soviet-nostalgist authoritarian regime, has got to be concerned about the recent unrest in Uzbekistan--especially coming on the heels of regime change in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan over the past year-and-a-half. However oppressive the situation in post-Soviet despotisms, it is clear Washington is seeking to exploit the situation to expand U.S. influence in the post-Soviet sphere, just as in the Arab world. (Of course this, in turn, allows the despots to potray all opposition as "American agents.")
The most prominent separatists in Italy have long been the right-wing Lega Nord, who want to create an independent state called "Padania" in the prosperous Po Valley (yet are, ironically, part of Italy's ruling coalition). But now word comes of a separatist movement in an impoverished (by European standards) corner of Italy, with an apparent ecological sensitivity as well as an antipathy to the ruling oligarchy.
A new party in Ukraine allegedly aligned with US-based neo-Nazi, former Klu Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Louisiana state representative David Duke has Ukrainian Jews concerned. The Ukranian Conservative Party was registered with the country's Justice Ministry last month and espouses "anti-fascist" and "anti-Zionist" views. But it also calls for re-inserting the ethnic identity of Ukrainian citizens in their passports, a practice which led in the past to discrimination against Jews. According to AP, the party's leaders is Heorhiy Shchyokin, chief of the Kiev-based International Academy of Personnel Management, which teaches some 35,000 students. The Moscow-based Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union has accused Shchyokin in the past of turning his academy "into the leading publishing center of anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine." Shchyokin has been widely criticized in the Ukrainian media for his reported links to Duke, with his party being labeled the "Ukrainian Klu Klux Klan." AP does not say which materials Shychyokin has been publishing, but Duke has been making inroads in the last decade into the former Soviet Union and India. His book "Jewish Supremacism" is billed as a "world-wide bestseller" on his website, and is sold in front of the Russian Duma. On his website he decries the "Jewish Oligarchs who have stolen approximately 65 percent of the natural wealth of Russia," and applauds the Duma for trying to pass blatantly anti-Semitic legislation recently. Approximately 100,000 Jews live in Ukraine.
David Horowitz, center-right editor of the center-right Jerusalem Post, reports with concern some recent fascist nostalgia in Rome:
"Maybe we should shrug off the ongoing little rumpus in Rome
surrounding Lazio soccer team captain Paolo Di Canio's recent Fascist
salute to his loyal fans during his team's 3-1 victory over local
rivals Roma. After all, the player remarked of the gesture, 'it was
only to celebrate.' It was 'nothing to do with political behavior of
any kind,' insisted Di Canio, who has a tattooed homage to Benito
Mussolini on his arm and in his autobiography called the fascist
dictator 'a very principled, ethical individual.'
The March 17 attempted assassination of Anatoly Chubais, head of Russia's state energy monopoly, Unified Energy Systems (EES), and architect of the highly unpopular post-Soviet crash privatization program, has rocked Russia's political elite.