Moscow Veteran human rights activists Monday marked the 40th anniversary of a key opposition rally that is regarded as the start of the Soviet dissident movement and alleged that democracy and civil society were again under threat in Russia.
On Dec. 5, 1965, several dozen activists gathered in central Moscow to demand that the trial of two writers charged with anti-Soviet activity in their yet-unpublished writings, Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuliy Daniel, be open.
“It was an extraordinary event to hold an unsanctioned rally in the Soviet Union,” said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, 78.
The rally, which was quickly dispersed, is regarded as the first pro-democracy demonstration in the Soviet Union’s history. It paved the way for further protests and gave birth to the country’s human rights movement.
Powerful earthquake strikes in Congo
Kinshasa, Congo A powerful earthquake Monday toppled dozens of homes and buried children in rubble in eastern Congo, killing at least two people in a region already beset by chronic violence and grinding poverty.
The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.8, struck at 2:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m. PST) and was centered beneath Lake Tanganyika on the Congo-Tanzania border, about 600 miles southwest of Nairobi, Kenya, the U.S. Geological Survey said on its Web site.
“Dozens of houses have collapsed, several children were buried by the roofs of their houses,” said Dr. Jean-Donne Owali, a Congolese humanitarian worker in the lakeside city of Kalemie, Congo, about 35 miles from the epicenter.
Owali said at least two people had died of injuries at his clinic. He said he saw children bleeding from head injuries after their mud-and-thatch homes collapsed.
Israeli official sees Red Cross progress
Geneva An Israeli diplomat reported significant progress Monday in the Jewish state’s attempt to become a full member of the Red Cross movement after nearly 60 years of exclusion.
The first day of discussions by signatories of the Geneva Conventions about adopting a “red crystal” emblem separate from the red cross or Muslim red crescent brought Israel markedly closer to official membership in the Red Cross, Itzhak Levanon, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, said. The discussions took place behind closed doors.
“The majority, if not all those who took the floor, were in favor of seeing the emblem adopted,” Levanon said. “There was a broad consensus, a broad majority. The long process might be coming to a close.”
The 192 signers of the Geneva Conventions were expected to decide later this week on the new emblem.
Egypt opposition accuses government
Cairo, Egypt Egypt’s leading opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, accused the government on Monday of detaining 1,250 of its supporters during ongoing parliamentary elections in retaliation for its success at the polls.
The Brotherhood has done surprisingly well in the three-stage elections, winning 76 seats so far – five times as many as it held in the outgoing assembly and far more than any other opposition party. President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party and allied independents have won 222 of the legislature’s 444 elected seats.