December 24, 2010 in Nation/World

In brief: Police break up students’ protest


Caracas, Venezuela – Police and soldiers fired water cannons and plastic bullets Thursday as thousands of students protested against a law passed by Venezuela’s congress that increases the government’s powers over the country’s universities.

At least four people were injured.

Dozens of police and National Guard troops in anti-riot gear blocked protesters including students and professors outside the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas.

The law governing universities was approved by the National Assembly before dawn Thursday, and students denounced it as an attempt by President Hugo Chavez to clamp down on autonomous state universities that have been a bastion of opposition to his government.

The law gives Chavez’s higher education minister broad powers to decide on academic programs and university operations, and says universities should promote education that reinforces the government’s aim of building a “socialist homeland.”

START treaty in Russia’s hands

Moscow – President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday welcomed the U.S. Senate’s decision to ratify a landmark U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control treaty, but Russian legislators said they need to study a resolution until January accompanying the document before following suit.

Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said that when he signed the New START treaty with President Barack Obama, they agreed that the ratification process should be conducted simultaneously.

She said Medvedev voiced hope that both houses of Russian parliament would ratify the pact, but added that they would need some time to analyze the Senate’s conditions for its ratification before making their decision.

The New START treaty, signed by Obama and Medvedev in April, would limit each country’s strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from the current ceiling of 2,200. It also would re-establish a system for monitoring and verification.

Legislators in the Kremlin-controlled parliament had said before the Senate landmark ruling on Wednesday that they would approve the treaty quickly after it is ratified in the U.S.

Lower house speaker Boris Gryzlov, however, told reporters Thursday that the Senate’s ratification resolution contained some conditions and the legislators need to carefully study the text before making decision.

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email