TIME indonesia

The ‘Jokowi Effect’ Could Be the Most Important Thing in Indonesia’s Elections

Indonesians cast at a polling station during legislative elections in Jakarta on April 9. Excitement over the popular Joko Widodo may have reversed voter apathy BAY ISMOYO—AFP/Getty Images

The presidential candidacy of the wildly popular Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, nicknamed Jokowi, is credited with ending voter apathy in elections being held in the world's most populous Muslim nation

Indonesian voters headed to the polling booths Wednesday with an enthusiasm that was unthinkable some months ago.

The reason was the so-called Jokowi effect. The presidential candidacy of the wildly popular Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, nicknamed Jokowi, has been credited with boosting everything from Jakarta’s stock markets and Indonesian currency the rupiah to popular interest in the electoral process.

Indonesia’s elections are a staggering operation. With around 186 million eligible voters, the sprawling archipelago nation is the third largest democracy in the world after India, whose elections began on Monday, and the U.S.

Indonesian voters were to choose more than 235,000 legislative candidates competing for nearly 19,700 seats in national, provincial and district-level legislatures.

There was initially little excitement about the polls. The country’s politics have always been tainted by scandal and graft, but a series of recent cases that landed a number of legislators in jail have dealt fresh blows to the image of the Indonesian parliament. According to a poll by the Indonesian Research Institute, nearly two-thirds of respondents saw the House of Representatives, or the DPR, in a negative light. A survey by Transparency International last year put the DPR as the country’s most corrupt institution, a dubious distinction it shared with the police.

Abstaining voters — known in Indonesian as golput, an acronym for golongan putih — have been on the rise in the previous elections, reaching 29% in 2009, up from 16% in 2004. But the presidential candidacy of the Jakarta governor, a down-to-earth politician untainted by controversy, could change that.

“Jokowi is seen as a figure of hope and as an alternative,” says political observer Wimar Witoelar, who once served as a spokesman for former President Abdurrahman Wahid, also known as Gus Dur. “Many young and first-time voters are likely to vote for PDI-P, and there could even be fewer abstaining voters.”

It won’t be until July that Indonesia holds the presidential election, but the Wednesday parliamentary elections are as much as about choosing the country’s next President as they are legislators. “My mother said she actually likes yellow [Golkar Party] better. But because she wants Jokowi, she had to choose red [PDI-P],” tweeted novelist Ayu Utami on Election Day.

Jokowi’s political platform is little known, though his programs, from slum development to health care, reflect his party’s pro-small-people, populist stance. With more than half of the ballots counted late Wednesday afteroon, a quick count by Indikator’s pollsters showed that PDI-P got 19.6% of the vote — below the predicted 24.5% but sufficient to propel it from third to top spot. Its two closest rivals are fellow nationalist, secular parties: Golkar, late President Suharto’s political vehicle, got 14.3% and Gerindra 12.2%. Meanwhile, the governing Democratic Party, beset by corruption scandals, is at the fourth place, with a mere 9.7% of the vote.

Indonesian electoral law stipulates that only parties that secure at least a quarter of of the popular vote or one-fifth of the 560 seats in the DPR can nominate a presidential candidate. Parties that fail to meet the threshold will have to cobble together a coalition — a move that is seen to have crippled and hobbled outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s government, particularly on issues like the fuel subsidy and religious intolerance.

Fed up with infighting within Yudhoyono’s coalition, which comprises both nationalist and Islamic parties, some voters say it is crucial to have a more unified government. “I think people need to vote for PDI-P candidates — as long as their integrity is better than those from other parties — and Joko Widodo as President. We need a stable government in the next 10 years,” architect and urban activist Marco Kusumawijaya wrote on Facebook, referring to the President’s maximum two terms in office.

Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, is likely to see the ongoing dominance of secular, nationalist parties and the struggle of Islamic parties to win votes. Among the latter is the Prosperous Justice Party, whose supposedly clean image has been tainted by graft and sex scandals, as well as the polygamy of its politicians. “Indonesians are basically secular nationalists,” says Wimar. “Religion is a guide in their private lives, not in politics.”

A clean and fair government is something that voters hope Jokowi and fellow politicians could bring. The proliferation of social media — Indonesian netizens are among the world’s most avid users of Twitter and Facebook — helps young, urban voters decide whom they should vote for. In the run-up to elections, a coalition of human-rights and anticorruption NGOs launched the website Bersih2014 and a related Twitter account, listing clean candidates. For weeks, Facebook and Twitter have also been buzzing with the names of not so well-behaved politicians and parties — snapshots of alleged evidence of bribery attempts abound.

The late Gus Dur, whose presidential term ended abruptly in 2001 after sparring with the legislature, once likened the DPR to a kindergarten. In today’s elections, the fourth since the fall of the strongman Suharto in 1998, there is finally hope that Indonesia is now more apt to vote more mature politicians into parliament — and with that, create a better government.

TIME South Africa

Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp Died in My Arms

Olympic and Paralympic track star Pistorius arrives ahead of his trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius arrives ahead of his third day at the witness stand in the court in Pretoria on April 9, 2014. © Siphiwe Sibeko—Reuters

The South African paralympian on trial for the murder of his girlfriend provides testimony for a third time about the day in February 2013 when he shot Steenkamp, claiming he thought she was an intruder and recounting how he 'felt helpless' as she died in his arms

Oscar Pistorius recounted how his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, 29, died in his arms with her blood soaking him when he took the witness stand for the third day Wednesday.

The South African athlete, who is on trial accused of murdering his model girlfriend, described how he shot her through the bathroom door of his house on Valentine’s Day last year, saying he mistook her for an intruder.

On Tuesday the judge adjourned the court when Pistorius became very emotional, weeping and wailing as he described the events leading up to the realization that he had killed his girlfriend.

Pistorius, who will face a 25-year prison sentence if convicted, was more composed Wednesday, but still obviously distressed. His voice was quivering as he recounted the moment he entered the bathroom after breaking the locked door with a cricket bat and saw his girlfriend.

“I checked to see if she was breathing and she wasn’t,” Pistorius said in his televised testimony, which is being followed by viewers worldwide.

He said that he pulled her from the bathroom to the bedroom and put her down “softly on the carpet.”

“I felt helpless. I had my fingers in her mouth to help her breathe,” he said. “I could feel her blood was running down on me.”

He then went back into the bedroom to find his phone and called a neighbor to ask for help, and then he called his gated community’s security office and emergency services. Neighbors, paramedics and police came to the home, but Pistorius said he knew it was too late.

“Reeva had already died while I was holding her, before the ambulance arrived, so I knew that there was nothing that they could do for her.”

The trial continues.

TIME Aviation

Official: Missing Jet Could Be Found Within ‘A Matter Of Days’

RAAF P3 Orion captain Flt Lt Benn Carroll speaks to reporters after returning from a search mission for debris from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at RAAF Base Pearce on April 8, 2014 in Perth, Australia. Paul Kane—Getty Images

Authorities attempting to locate Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, believed to have crashed in the Indian Ocean last month, say new pings heard Tuesday may originate from the plane's black box that officials worry is about to run out of battery life

Two more underwater signals that may have emanated from the black boxes of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 were heard Tuesday, prompting the Australian official in charge of the search to say the missing Boeing 777 may be discovered within “a matter of days”

“I’m now optimistic that we will find the aircraft, or what is left of the aircraft, in the not-too-distant future,” Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search, said at a news conference in Perth. “Hopefully in a matter of days, we will be able to find something on the bottom that might confirm that this is the last resting place of MH370.”

The Australian vessel Ocean Shield originally picked up two signals over the weekend, and the new transmissions were now considerably weaker, said Houston, indicating that the beacons’ batteries may now be close to exhausted. Analysis showed “the transmission was not of natural origin and was likely sourced from specific electronic equipment.”

MH370 vanished soon after departing Kuala Lumpur for Bejing early March 8, and investigators now believe the 11-year-old aircraft crashed in the southern Indian Ocean some 1,000 miles (1,600 km) northwest of Perth. All 239 passengers and crew are presumed dead.

Despite the growing body of evidence, Houston insists that no crash site can be confirmed before wreckage has been positively identified. The beacons’ batteries have already surpassed their 30-day expected life, heaping pressure on search efforts.

Investigators currently have the pings pinned down to a 12-mile (20 km) radius, but hope to narrow this further through trawling, as it generally takes six times as long to search with the Bluefin autonomous underwater vehicle than it does with towed pinger locators. If the noises can be narrowed down, an unmanned submarine may soon be deployed to locate wreckage from the missing Boeing 777.

Some 11 military aircraft, four civil aircraft and 14 ships assisted in Wednesday’s search for debris across 29,000 sq miles (75,000 square km) of ocean — an expanse slightly smaller than South Carolina — located about 1,350 miles (2,200 km) northwest of Perth.

TIME Eastern Europe

NATO Warns Russia Against ‘Historic Mistake’

A masked member of the Ukrainian special forces stands guard outside the regional administration building in Kharkiv, April 8, 2014. Olga Ivashchenko—Reuters

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen warned Moscow that any further escalation in Ukraine would have "dire consequences"

NATO is warning Russia that any further intervention in Ukraine would be a “historic mistake” and has urged Moscow to pull back the tens of thousands of troops currently amassed on Ukraine’s southern and eastern borders.

“I urge Russia to step back and not escalate the situation in east Ukraine,” said Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Paris during a seminar on NATO reform, according to the BBC.

Hundreds of pro-Russia demonstrators seized and barricaded themselves inside government buildings in the east Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk on Sunday night, chanting “Russia! Russia!” and calling for “peacekeepers” to be sent in from across the frontier.

However, 56 people left a state security service building seized by pro-Russia activists in Luhansk overnight, the nation’s state security service (SBU) said early Wednesday.

A truce was agreed following negotiations between protesters and officials, and comes after the SBU accused those inside of wiring the building with explosives and holding 60 people hostage, charges denied by the protesters.

Demonstrators are demanding a referendum to facilitate the secession of eastern provinces from Ukraine to join Russia, in a similar vein to what recently took place in Crimea.

On Tuesday, a brawl erupted inside the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev after a Communist leader accused nationalists of adopting extreme tactics and so playing into the hands of Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is refusing to recognize the authorities in Kiev that took power after pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted following months of street protests.

Yanukovych fled Kiev for Russia in February after more than 100 people died in unrest triggered initially by his refusal to sign an tariff agreement with the E.U. and to instead pursue closer ties with Russia.


The Occupation of Taiwan’s Parliament Ends Today, but the Struggles Do Not

Student leaders bow to supporters during a news conference at Taiwan's legislative Yuan, the island's parliament, in Taipei on April 7, 2014 Reuters

Students protesting a trade deal with China have agreed to relinquish their occupation of Taiwan’s parliament on Thursday, but tensions remain as legislators struggle to balance boosting a flagging economy with an entrenched distrust of the People’s Republic

No one, not even the student protesters, expected to so thoroughly take over the island’s parliament on March 19. Once they had shattered the glass doors at the entrance and streamed by the hundreds into the voting chamber, only a thin detail of unarmed guards blocked their way. Shannon Chen, 22, didn’t find the lax security all that surprising. “Welcome to Taiwan,” she says with a shrug. In fairness, she says, no protest movement had ever attempted to occupy legislature.

President Ma Ying-jeou enraged the demonstrators three weeks ago when he decided to fast-track a vote on a trade pact with China, bypassing a parliamentary committee that was supposed to vet the terms of the agreement line by line. Demonstrators fear the deal could make Taiwan more susceptible to China’s influence.

“This thing comes from nowhere, and nobody knows what the hell is going on,” says Huang Tze-bin, a 24-year-old doctoral candidate who entered the building by scaling a ladder to a second-floor window.

Now they will hand back control of the building at 6 p.m local time on Thursday, after parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng agreed to shelve debate on the bill — signed in June last year but yet to be ratified by lawmakers — until new legislation is enacted to hammer down oversight of all deals with China.

“It’s time for us to return this movement to broader Taiwan society, where we will continue the struggle,” protest leader Chen Wei-ting told an enthralled crowd.

Few would have expected such a victory.

“It was chaos,” says Shannon Chen, who moonlights as spokesperson for the encampment. The power went out. The air conditioners were shut off. Every two hours, a rumor would spread through the room that the police were returning, sending protesters scrambling toward the doors. At other times, they milled around the chamber, unsure of what to do next. “We thought we would be kicked out the first night,” says Cindy Lee, 27. “I was shocked.”

Taiwan and mainland China have been at loggerheads since 1949, when U.S.-backed nationalist forces, led by Chiang Kai-shek, retreated across the strait from Mao Zedong’s Red Army. These days, the People’s Republic is unlikely to take back Taiwan by force, but officials in Beijing still hanker after greater influence over this “renegade province” through shrewdly vitalizing business ties.

“People worry about whether there will be a reunification that subtly emerges between the two sides,” Liao Da-chi, a professor of political science at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University, tells TIME. “The issue is a political one and not really economic.”

These fears are evident in the protest art that now adorns the legislature’s walls. Wen Hsin, 21, a fine-arts student, takes a break from carving messages of defiance to point out her favorite art installation, a painting leaning against the main lectern, commemorating the takeover of the parliament three weeks earlier. “I like it because it captures the movement in history,” she says.

Tensions with authorities have dissipated since the initial occupation, largely owing to the protesters’ orderly conduct, for the most part, and an emphasis on constructive negotiations. Occupiers began organizing committees to manage not only supplies, but also medical care, security, media and even arts and crafts. “I’m like everyone’s mother,” says Lee, a media consultant who oversees the dissemination of food, water, toothbrushes, towels and any other supplies hauled into the chamber. “It’s like a summer camp.”

Despite the agreement to relinquish control, the specter of fresh conflict is never far away. No less than seven different versions of the legislative-scrutiny proposals have been put forward by the executive, students and various civil-society groups. “The contents are so different,” says Liao. “There are a lot of different opinions.”

Taiwan has seen better days, and the trade-services pact — opening 64 of Taiwan’s service sectors to China and 80 the other way — was supposed to boost a flagging economy, bringing in some 12,000 jobs, according to President Ma. Some see irrational prejudice against the world’s second largest economy jeopardizing prosperity, others deem it as the thin edge of a wedge.

“We signed several free-trade agreements with New Zealand, nobody took any action to oppose them,” says Liao. “If we put political concerns aside, [the proposed China trade pact] was certainly a benefit to Taiwan more [than the mainland].”

That is not to say sympathy for the protesters was lacking. An estimated half a million gathered in support of the so-called Sunflower Movement on April 1. An open call for lozenges, to treat sore throats from days of shouting and singing inside parliament, was met with a shipment of 100 boxes, says Lee. Distrust of China will continue to be weighed against demands for jobs and social programs, a combination that necessitates conflict. “The government still wants to pass the pact,” says Liao. “There are still a lot of struggles going on.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Decision Time: Will Obama Make a Last-Ditch Middle East Peace Push?

President Barack Obama walks from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, April 1, 2014.
President Obama walks to the Rose Garden of the White House on April 1, 2014 Manuel Balce Ceneta—AP

President Obama and John Kerry met on Tuesday to discuss the risks and benefits of performing CPR on Israeli-Palestinian communication

The mood could not have been cheery when Barack Obama met with his Secretary of State at the White House on Tuesday afternoon. When John Kerry arrived at Foggy Bottom in February 2013, he persuaded Obama to sign off on a new U.S. effort to restart the long-dormant Middle East peace process. Obama was skeptical: he’d waded into those jellyfish-infested waters in his first term and had come out badly stung. But Obama allowed Kerry to proceed, bucking him up with strong pro-peace rhetoric.

Kerry coaxed the Israelis and Palestinians to the bargaining table in June. On Tuesday, three weeks before the original deadline for a deal, he returned to Obama empty-handed. Last week both sides took actions that the other called a sabotage of the talks (although Kerry pointed a stern finger at the Israelis). When Kerry appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday morning, Republican Senator John McCain declared the peace talks “finished.”

Not so, Kerry retorted. “The Israelis and the Palestinians don’t declare it dead. They want to continue to negotiate.” That’s technically true: Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have continued to talk, including in a Monday night meeting brokered by the U.S.

The question now is whether this is just pantomime. Are the two sides still meeting for purely public relations purposes — to demonstrate a faux good faith to the world? Or are they still capable of cutting a deal?

It wouldn’t be surprising to see Obama conclude that the process is hopeless, at least for now. Many others in Washington have. Last week’s effort by Kerry to secure Israeli concessions through the release of Jonathan Pollard, convicted of spying for Israel, had carried a whiff of desperation that suggested Washington wants a deal more than the Israelis do.

But it’s also possible that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas are engaging in brinkmanship to maximize their leverage. A former Obama State Department official notes that it’s not unusual for high-stakes negotiations to near collapse just before a final deal rises forth from the flames. Think of the 11th-hour game of chicken in Washington’s debt-limit crisis in October.

If Obama thinks that might be the case, one foreign government official who closely monitors the talks says the U.S. should remove itself from haggling over process issues like prisoner releases and simply lay a framework peace deal on the table. Kerry would require the two sides to accept or reject it in principle. They could haggle over details later. The basic principles of such a plan — including limited right of Palestinian refugee return, a divided capital in Jerusalem, some medium-term Israeli security presence in the Jordan River Valley — wouldn’t surprise anyone.

But another push would be risky. Obama and Kerry are already dodging charges of naiveté and impotence in the region. Committing publicly to a plan that fails would compound a moment of perceived American weakness.

That said, there’s also a risk in letting the talks die: possible new boycotts and isolation of Israel, a potential collapse of the Palestinian Authority and maybe even new violence. “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos,” Kerry warned in November. “Does Israel want a third intifadeh?”

To be sure, the consequences may not be so dire. The prospect of violence in particular could be overblown, thanks to improved Israeli security and a higher standard of living for West Bank Palestinians, says one Arab government official.

But there’s also worry that this is the last, best hope for a peace deal. “We may not get another chance,” Kerry warned as this round of talks kicked off last summer.

Of course, when Obama began his first stab at a peace deal in September 2010, he spoke of a “moment of opportunity that may not soon come again.”

Another moment did come, however. And its demise may not be the end of the story. “We’ve had lots of diplomatic breakdowns between Israel and the Palestinians,” says one person close to Israeli officials who thinks this round is likely finished. “The peace process will rise again.”

If Obama truly disagrees, he’ll have to decide whether it’s worth making a dramatic — and risky — gesture to salvage it.

TIME europe

Ukraine on the Brink as East Looks to Break Away

Pro-Russian protesters gather in front of Ukrainian police officers in font of the Kharkiv regional state administration building on April 8, 2014.
Pro-Russia protesters gather in front of Ukrainian police officers in font of the Kharkiv regional state-administration building on April 8, 2014 Anatoliy Stepanov—AFP/Getty Images

Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine as a “contrived pretext for military intervention"

Ukraine looked like a country on its way to civil war on Tuesday, as it struggled to control eastern cities allied with Russia while Moscow looked to capitalize on the unrest and the U.S. was left with little to do but look on.

The new Ukrainian government in Kiev decried as “separatists” men who took hostages in a security-services office in Luhansk, one of three eastern cities where the government has clashed with pro-Russia protesters in recent days, the Associated Press reports. Ukrainian officials were able to recapture control of a headquarters building in one city. But hostages remained in another, and tensions were evident in the capital, where a fistfight broke out in the parliament. Parts of the region want to break away from Ukraine, raising tensions after Russia annexed the peninsula of Crimea.

Secretary of State John Kerry claimed Russian agents were seeking to instigate unrest in Ukraine, something he called “absolutely unacceptable” and akin to creating a “contrived pretext for military intervention.”

“Everything that we’ve seen in the last 48 hours from Russian provocateurs and agents operating in eastern Ukraine tells us that they’ve been sent there determined to created chaos,” Kerry said while testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Russia’s clear and unmistakable involvement in destabilizing and engaging in separatist activities in the eastern Ukraine is more than deeply disturbing.”

Over the past few days, hundreds of protesters in three eastern Ukrainian cities have demanded a secession referendum and scores have been detained, complicating Ukraine’s attempts to implement austerity reforms required by the International Monetary Fund as a condition for an $18 billion loan the country needs to avert financial default. Ukraine is holding presidential elections in May.

Russia, however, was quick to trumpet the protests as proof that Ukraine’s new government is already losing control of its people, accusing it of sending armed troops to the east to crack down on legitimate protests. “We are calling for the immediate cessation of any military preparations, which could lead to civil war,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

In Washington, Kerry warned against Russian efforts to create a climate in which a pro-Kremlin eastern Ukraine would welcome annexation.

“If they proceed down that road that will be a second swing at a completely illegal, unconstitutional, internationally unsupportable effort to violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine,” he said. “We owe it to ourselves to exhaust the remedies that the diplomatic process might provide.”

Kerry also beat back Republican criticism of President Barack Obama’s policy toward Russia, especially when Senator Jim Risch of Idaho said “the Russians are misbehaving worse than they have in decades.”

“Let me give you what I consider a taste of reality,” Kerry said. “[Russia's 2008 invasion of] Georgia happened under George Bush,” he said, “and he didn’t even bring a sanction.”

“President Obama has brought sanctions, and it’s having an impact,” Kerry added. “And the fact is, it will have a far more serious impact if they cross over or continue what’s happening in East Ukraine … Now, I don’t know anybody in the United States of America who said we ought to go to war with Crimea — is there any member of this committee who believes that?”

Responding to the silence, he said, “I don’t think so.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Kerry Defends Obama’s Syria Policy

US Secretary of State John Kerry testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, April 8, 2014. Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images

The secretary of state said diplomacy has succeeded in reducing Syria's arsenal of chemical weapons in a way that military action never could. He added that diplomatic progress has removed “54%” of the chemical weapons from the conflict

Secretary of State John Kerry beat back Republican charges Tuesday that the Obama Administration has not done enough to end the three-year Syrian civil war that has now killed 150,000 people.

“I know there are a lot of concerns about our Syrian policy,” Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. “We have no policy from what I can tell, other than again, allowing people to kill each other off. And us making commitments to the opposition that we do not honor, and leaving them in refugee camps and basically stranded without the support we committed to them on the front end.”

Kerry defended the current strategy as “better” than the solution endorsed by both Kerry and Corker last year to engage in a targeted strike against President Bashar Assad’s regime, saying diplomatic progress has removed “54%” of the chemical weapons from the conflict.

“What’s your take,” challenged Kerry. “Would you rather drop a few bombs, send a message, and then have him [Assad] still with the [chemical] weapons and the capacity to deliver them, or would you rather get all of them out?”

But according to the Wall Street Journal, Kerry and United Nations Ambassador Samantha Power have pushed the Pentagon and White House to adopt a much stronger stance, advocating for American military intervention and using special operations forces to train and equip opposition fighters.

“I think there is a capacity to change Assad’s calculation,” said Kerry on Tuesday, when pressed by Corker if he supports military intervention, adding that he would talk about specifics in a classified setting. He said a limited strike “would have had some effect… but it would not have had a devastating impact by which he would have had to recalculate because it wasn’t going to last that long.”

“If Syria is ever going to be resolved, it is going to be through a political process,” Kerry added. “And that political process is now in place, though the moment is not right because we still have to change Assad’s calculation.”


Fistfight Breaks Out in Ukrainian Parliament

It was just the latest of a series of brawls that erupted in the Parliament's chambers over the course of the past year — and fortunately, no one was hurt


A fistfight broke out during a session of the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday between communist lawmakers and members of the right-wing Svoboda (Freedom) Party as tempers rise over pro-Russian demonstrations.

Two deputies from a far-right nationalist party seized a communist leader, Petro Symonenko, as he was talking in Ukraine’s chamber, Reuters reported. The scuffle erupted after Symonenko said that Ukrainian nationalists were to blame for pro-Russian protesters seizing buildings in eastern Ukraine, because they set a precedent earlier this year by taking over government buildings in protest at the rule of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

But this is not the first brawl in Ukraine parliament. In February, a fight broke out after some demanded a snap presidential election.



TIME National Security

Snowden: NSA Ignored My Formal Complaints

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong
NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden in a still image taken from video during an interview by the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong on June 6, 2013 Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras—The Guardian/Reuters

The former National Security Agency contractor says he voiced his concerns to the agency's oversight and compliance bodies before leaking classified data that set off a global debate on the ethics of government surveillance

Former National Security Agency contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden has insisted he voiced concerns to the NSA over the breadth of its surveillance programs before he decided to leak classified data, in a new interview with Vanity Fair.

NSA deputy director Rick Ledgett, who investigated Snowden, has claimed the former contractor never filed a complaint formally, or personally to any of his colleagues. But Snowden denies this, saying he did make complaints, and some were over email to NSA’s lawyers. In the interview, Snowden “directly” challenges NSA to deny he went to NSA oversight and compliance bodies with complaints.

Snowden also addresses rumors about the number of documents he has in his possession, including reports that they number 1.7 million. Snowden says that’s simply a “scare number” from investigators. “What senior official is going to go in front of Congress and say, ‘We have no idea what he has, because the N.S.A.’s auditing of systems holding hundreds of millions of Americans’ data is so negligent that any high-school dropout can walk out the door with it?’” Snowden says.

Excerpts from the interview were published on the same day Snowden claimed the NSA targeted human rights groups, The Guardian reports. In live testimony by videophone before human rights body the Council of Europe, Snowden said groups like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International may have been under surveillance.

“The NSA has targeted leaders and staff members of these sorts of organisations, including domestically within the borders of the United States,” he said.

Snowden told Vanity Fair that popular opinion is shifting on how far the government should go to keep its citizens safe. “What we’re seeing today in America is a new political movement that crosses party lines,” he said. “This post-terror generation rejects the idea that we have to burn down our village in order to save it—that the only way to defend the Constitution is to tear it up.”

[Vanity Fair]

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 46,510 other followers