Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for a formal probe into disputed parliamentary election results (RFE),but rejected demands for a fresh vote. The move came after a weekend during which tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Moscow and other Russian cities to demonstrate against the elections that handed the ruling United Russia party another victory on December 4.
Protesters called for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin–Russia's strongman for the last twelve years–to step down (BBC). Putin announced earlier this fall that he would seek the presidency again in next year's elections.
Meanwhile, Medvedev will face questions from EU leaders (DeutscheWelle) about the parliamentary election results during an EU-Russia summit in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.
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The sharp drop in support for the ruling United Russia party in parliamentary elections reflects growing public discontent with Putin's decision to seek the presidency again next year, says analyst Maria Lipman in this CFR Interview.
Shocked by the scale of protest against last week's election, the ruling party is divided on how far to go in answering the demonstrators' demands, writes TIME's Simon Shuster.
With its rampant voter fraud and declining population, Russia is careening toward irrelevance, writes Niall Ferguson in Newsweek.
Syria Holds Local Elections
Syria is holding local elections in the country's roughly thirteen hundred administrative units, but turnout is expected to be low (al-Jazeera) amid ongoing clashes between Syrian security forces and anti-government protesters.
The Syrian crisis has entered its most dangerous stage, says this International Crisis Group policy brief. The international community and Syrian opposition have largely been ignoring issues that must be addressed, including ties between Syria and Lebanon and the militarization of the protest movement.
YEMEN: Twelve al-Qaeda militants broke out of a prison (BBC) in the southern Yemeni city of Aden, as Yemen's army continues to fight heavy gun battles with al-Qaeda forces throughout the country.
Chinese Fisherman Kills South Korean Coastguard
A Chinese fisherman stabbed a South Korean coastguard to death during a raid on illegal fishing in the Yellow Sea (Yonhap) off the South Korean port city of Incheon.
SOUTH KOREA: The government will allow Christians to light three Christmas tree-shaped towers along the border with North Korea, which the North called "psychological warfare" (al-Jazeera).
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan to Continue Blockade of NATO Crossing
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Pakistan's blockade of a NATO supply line between Pakistan and Afghanistan (BBC) may last several more weeks, amid ongoing tensions between the United States and Pakistan.
PAKISTAN: At a recent meeting with the U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Imran Khan, the chairman of thePakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (ExpressTribune), indicated his political party would be willing to partner with the United States.
This CFR Preventive Priorities Survey–which lists Pakistan as a top-tier security concern–is intended to help inform the U.S. policy community about the relative urgency and importance of competing conflict-prevention demands.
Clashes in DRC over Election Results
Democratic Republic of Congo opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi refused to accept an announcement that incumbent Joseph Kabila won last month's presidential election. The international Carter Center said the results "lack credibility" (Mail&Guardian), fueling violent protests and looting in Kinshasa.
SOUTH AFRICA: At the conclusion of the seventeenth UN conference on climate change in Durban, the international community–including China, the United States, and India–agreed to develop a new treaty forcutting greenhouse gas emissions (Independent) by 2015 that would come into effect by 2020.
In his blog, Energy, Security, and Climate, CFR's Michael Levi says the "landmark deal" reached at the UN climate change conference was overhyped.
Noriega Returns to Panama
Former Panama military dictator Manuel Noriega (Guardian) was extradited back to his home country to serve jail time after over twenty years in U.S. and French prisons.
UNITED STATES: President Barack Obama will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (CNN) at the White House today as the United States prepares to withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of December.
This CFR Timeline details the events since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Cameron to Address Parliament over EU Treaty Veto
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is set to address parliament today over his decision last week to veto changes to the EU treaty mandating tighter fiscal oversight throughout the bloc, as divisions emerged (NYT) in Cameron's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government.
In this CFR Interview, LSE economist Iain Begg indicates that the UK has marginalized itself, but has not undermined the larger EU in its rejection of EU treaty changes.
Congress to Reach Spending Agreement
Aiming to avoid the threat of another government shutdown, Congress will likely reach a bipartisan agreement (WashPost) on a spending measure that will outline a plan to allocate nearly $1 trillion to government agencies throughout the coming year.
Renewing America is a special CFR project focused on the domestic underpinnings of U.S. global competitiveness, including the debt and deficit, infrastructure, education, innovation, trade, and corporate regulation and taxes.
Three months ago Putin seemed to have everything under control. The extent of the voters' discontent must have taken him by surprise. The coming days are going to be crucial for further developments. How would the protesters react if the Kremlin dismissed a re-run of the election. Personally Medvedev will emerge unscathed as he isn't member of Putin's party "United Russia", which is held responsible for the rigged election. Putin will run for presidential elections in March. As there is no obvious candidate – except for the billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, maybe the Kremlin should persuade Medvedev to change his mind and run for the re-elections. He is the better evil of the tandem and allows the opposition to reorganise themselves and Putin to exit with dignity.
please read: persuade Medvedev to change his mind and run for HIS RE-ELECTION.
I look forward to Global Public Square each week. Thank you.
Yesterday you interviewed Daniel Yergin. He recently published a new book on energy “Quest” and was a member of a commission, created by the Obama administration, that analyzed the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. In the interview he said that gas “has about half the carbon content of coal”, implying that it is a better source of energy with respect to greenhouse gasses and climate change.
Recent research by Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea (2011) disagrees with this conclusion. Although gas has less carbon than coal it may have an even larger effect on climate change than coal because a significant amount of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, escapes from gas wells created by hydraulic fracturing. If they are correct this is a very important issue. See their recent publication:
Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea 2011. Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations. Climate Change. 106 (679-690). [ http://www.sustainablefuture.cornell.edu/news/attachments/Howarth-EtAl-2011.pdf ]
I have not seen any discussion on this important issue outside of the scientific literature. I suggest you interview Howarth or host a discussion between Howarth and Yergin.
James Taggart, Ph.D.
Fisheries Research Scientist (Retired)
In any case, let's just hope that another Boris Yeltsin doesn't somehow come along and ruin Russia's economy again. Back in the 1990's, the West was greatly pleased to see what happened in Russia with it's economy imploding. All this served to encouraged the West to start new wars of conquest around the world.
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