Plus, Ukraine cancels regional summit in face-saving effort and London theatergoers look forward to Shakespeare’s “Balkan trilogy.”by Ky Krauthamer, Ioana Caloianu, and Stanislav Maselnik 9 May 2012
Ukraine has postponed a summit of Central and Eastern European leaders three days before the event was to begin at the Crimean resort of Yalta.
It was already clear that the gathering would be a failure. The presidents of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, and Slovenia pulled out over the past few days to protest Ukraine’s treatment of jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Kyiv said the event would be held at a later date.
Ukraine is looking increasingly isolated as European support for Tymoshenko rises. She has refused to be treated by prison doctors for a painful back condition and recently went on hunger strike demanding that German doctors be brought in to treat her, according to her daughter, Yevghenia, in an interview with Deutsche Welle.
After Tymoshenko claimed she was mistreated by prison guards and photos of Tymoshenko showing what she claimed to be bruises went viral on the Internet, several EU officials and heads of state announced they would boycott the Ukrainian half of next month’s Euro 2012 soccer championship unless Tymoshenko’s treatment improved.
Tymoshenko was moved from prison to a hospital in Kharkiv on the morning of 9 May, where she reportedly will be treated by German doctors.
Two activists – a representative of the Uzbek minority and a journalist critical of the growth of regionalism – have been beaten in separate attacks in the past few days in Tajikistan.
The journalist, Daler Sharifov, was severely beaten by several assailants in Dushanbe 7 May, the Avesta news agency reports.
Sharifov hosts two talk shows on the state television channel, Safina. He told Radio Free Europe last week he and others had formed an unregistered movement, Qadam ba Qadam (Step by Step), to counteract regional and tribal forces in the country.
Earlier, Salim Shamsiddinov, an ethnic Uzbek described by Radio Free Europe as an outspoken critic of the Tajik and Uzbek governments, said he was seriously beaten by three men in the town of Qurghon-Teppa, south of Dushanbe, on 5 May. The same day, Shamsiddinov was dismissed from positions as deputy head of a national Uzbek association and head of the association’s branch in Khatlon province.
Uzbeks are the largest minority in Tajikistan, making up an estimated 15 percent of the population.
Shamsiddinov said the attack may have been in retaliation for recent interviews in which he criticized Tajik authorities for their “nationalist” position on Uzbekistan. Relations between the two countries have been strained for years, mainly over Tajik plans to generate electricity using water from the Syr Darya river, water that is essential to irrigate Uzbek cotton fields.
A military court in Tripoli, Libya, is set to resume hearing the case of 25 detained Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Russians who are accused of working for former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Interfax reports that a fifth hearing will be held 21 May, citing Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksandr Dykusarov.
According to the Belarusian opposition website Charter 97, the group was apprehended on 27 August by a Libyan rebel battalion. They are accused of repairing military equipment belonging to the Gaddafi regime.
The accused say they are civilian specialists who came to work in the Libyan oil industry, according to the Voice of Russia.
The detainees were released 3 September after the Russian Embassy in Tripoli intervened on their behalf, Charter 97 writes, but were taken into custody again three days later.
Ukrainian diplomats negotiated the release of three compatriots in March. Ukrainian lawyers and diplomats planned to meet the remaining Ukrainian suspects on 10 May, Interfax reported.
Lukashenka delivered the address in the National Assembly 8 May.
“True democracy is a government by dutiful people who respect the law rather than by those who storm buildings, sympathize with terrorists, and call for acts of destruction. Society's problems must be discussed inside the parliament, not in squares and during rallies,” Lukashenka said, according to the independent BelaPan (subscription) news agency.
He said political parties should play a bigger part in the Belarusian political system. The country should have a "civilized party system," BelaPan reports. Then, "There will be less finger-pointing at the president and allegations that he's responsible for everything. Let parties be responsible for something, too."
The central government spins out of control as rival clans attempt to gain the upper hand. Local warlords join forces with whichever side is momentarily on the upswing, looking to expand their power bases; meanwhile, foreign powers hover on the sidelines.
This could be a description of Yugoslavia’s collapse in the late 20th century, or of England’s near-collapse in the 15th. The historical analogy inspires the entries of three Balkan theater companies in the Globe to Globe festival at the replica Globe Theater in London, where through 9 June companies from many countries are staging every play by William Shakespeare, each in a different language.
Serbian director Nikita Milivojevic said he approved of the name festival organizers gave the cycle of three Henry VI plays, set during the turmoil of the 15th-century Wars of the Roses.
“I like the name ‘Balkan Trilogy,’ because this Henry has something in common with Balkan history. Also, I see this as a good marketing move,” Balkan Insight quoted Milivojevic as saying.
The Serbian National Theater will perform Milivojevic’s production of Henry VI, Part One 11 and 13 May. The Albanian and Macedonian versions of parts two and three will also be staged over the weekend in productions by the National Theater of Albania and the National Theater of Bitola, respectively.
Milivojevic sees Henry VI primarily as the story of a power struggle in which, amid “various petty interests, intrigues, hatred, something much bigger and more important is lost,” the Danas Serbian daily writes.
Serbian National Theater Director Bozidar Djurovic said the three companies hope to reprise the trilogy later this year, possibly on consecutive nights in Belgrade, Bitola, and Tirana.