Hong Kong Democracy Advocates Face Charges Over 2014 Protests
Alan Wong, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Several organizers of the 2014 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong said they were notified by the police on Monday that they would face criminal charges, raising concerns over a broader crackdown more than two years after the demonstrations for freer elections swept the semi-autonomous Chinese territory. The authorities will charge the three early masterminds of the 2014 protests and six other participants, including current and former legislators and two student leaders, according to three of the protesters. According to a source, the current Hong Kong government, led by the unpopular chief executive Leung Chung-ying, had waited until Beijing’s preferred candidate, Carrie Lam, was selected to succeed him. Bringing charges earlier might have hurt her campaign because she was a loyal deputy to Mr. Leung.
China Bars Professor at Australian University from Leaving, Lawyer Says
Chris Buckley, THE NEW YORK TIMES
A Chinese-born professor at an Australian university who has often criticized Beijing’s crackdown on political dissent has been barred from leaving China and is being questioned by state security officers as a suspected threat to national security, his lawyer said on Sunday. The confinement of Feng Chongyi, an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney unfolded over the weekend while China’s premier, Li Keqiang, visited Australia to promote deeper trade and diplomatic ties. Professor Feng’s case could cloud those ties. The lawyer, Chen Jinxue, said Professor Feng had not been arrested or formally charged.
As Cuba’s Economy Flat Lines, Retirement Has Become Notional
Though revolutionary Cuba had one of the region’s earliest and most comprehensive pension systems, in recent years retirement has almost vanished. Without further economic reform, and the cheap oil that used to come from Venezuela, the economy has stalled. Pensions have been frozen, and their value eaten up by inflation. According to the most recent government statistics, from 2010, a third of men past retirement age are working. Three-fifths of older people say they often have to go without necessities.
North Korea’s Rising Ambition Seen in Bid to Breach Global Banks
Paul Mozur and Choe Sang-Hun, THE NEW YORK TIMES
When hackers associated with North Korea tried to break into Polish banks late last year they left a trail of information about their apparent intentions to steal money from more than 100 organizations around the world. While some of the Polish banks took the hackers’ bait, the scheme was detected fairly quickly, and there is no evidence that any money was stolen from the intended targets. Yet security researchers said the hit list underlines how sophisticated the capabilities of North Korean hackers have become. Their goals have now turned financial, along with efforts to spread propaganda, heist data, and to disrupt government and news websites in countries considered enemies.
Thousands Protest Corruption in Russia in Challenge to Leader Vladimir Putin
Nathan Hodge, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of cities across Russia on Sunday to protest official corruption in the most significant challenge to Vladimir Putin in years. Sunday’s marches were called by leading opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who was detained during the protest in Moscow, according to supporters and local media. “There are things in life worth being detained for,” Mr. Navalny said on Twitter. Crowds chanting “Russia without Putin” and carrying placards decrying official corruption converged on Pushkin Square in the Russian capital, where they faced off with ranks of Interior Ministry police in riot gear.
Russia’s Navalny in Court After Protests; US, EU Condemn Mass Detentions
RADIO FREE EUROPE
Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny was in court on March 27 for a hearing on an administrative charge, a day after he was detained by police along with hundreds of other demonstrators at protests held in dozens of cities nationwide. The US State Department said Washington was “troubled” by Navalny’s detention. “We call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement issued on March 26. “Detaining peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values,” Toner said.
OAS Members to Meet In US To Discuss Venezuelan Crisis
José de Córdoba, WALL STREET JOURNAL
Members of the Organization of American States will meet this week in Washington, DC to discuss the crisis in Venezuela, after a group of the hemisphere’s largest countries called on President Nicolás Maduro to take measures to restore democracy. Venezuela, a member of the OAS, has asked for a meeting of foreign ministers and other diplomats to be held Monday, the organization said. Another special meeting would be held Tuesday at the request of 18 member countries to discuss Venezuela’s deepening political and economic crisis. The flurry of diplomatic activity follows an unprecedented statement released Thursday by 14 nations calling for Venezuela to release political prisoners and re-establish the country’s democratic order.