Putin sticks with Assad despite G8 pressure

June 18, 2013

Putin holds his ground on Assad support, Turkey’s “standing man” steps up, and public anger boils over in Brazil. Today is Tuesday, June 18, the 65th anniversary of the UN’s International Declaration of Human rights. Here’s the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner and @clarerrrr.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and U.S. President Barack Obama take part in a group photo for the G8 Summit in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

More like the G7 plus Putin. Russian President Putin remains the odd one out as the G8 summit enters its second day, raising the possibility that a final statement could be released without his input. Despite international pressure, Putin stands firmly behind Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad:

Following an icy encounter between the Kremlin chief and U.S. President Barack Obama late on Monday, the G8 leaders will seek to find resolution to a war that has prompted powers across the Middle East to square off on sectarian lines. The sticking point again will be Putin, who faced a barrage of criticism from Western leaders for supporting Assad and the Syrian’s president’s attempt to crush a 2-year-old uprising in which at least 93,000 people have been killed. “It’s a clarifying moment to see what kind of commitments the Russians are willing to make in a leading world forum,” a British official said before the leaders met for dinner at a remote, heavily guarded golf course outside of Enniskillen.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he aims to reach a Syrian peace plan with or without Russia’s support. Putin urged other leaders at the conference to consider the consequences of arming Syrian rebels and expressed doubt over U.S. claims that Assad’s government used chemical weapons. Putin also said Russia would not permit the U.S. to impose a no-fly zone, an option which appears unlikely. Obama and Putin did manage to agree on one point: a deal aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Erdem Gunduz (C) stands in a silent protest at Taksim Square in Istanbul, early June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Standing up to Erdogan. On Monday, a Turkish protester dubbed “standing man” staged an eight-hour silent vigil which inspired similar protests throughout the nation and changed the tone of often violent clashes that have rocked the country for weeks:

Erdem Gunduz said he wanted to take a stand against police stopping demonstrations near the square, Dogan news agency reported. He stood silently, facing the Ataturk Cultural Center which was draped in Turkish flags and a portrait of Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, from 6 p.m. (11 a.m. EDT) on Monday. By 2 a.m. (7 p.m. EDT), when the police moved in, about 300 people had joined him. Ten people, who refused to be moved on by police, were detained.

Turkish police arrested and detained dozens of people connected to anti-government protests that have rocked the country for weeks, leaving four dead and roughly 7,500 injured. Check out Reuters photos of tear gas and water cannons lighting up the night sky here.

Demonstrators build a bonfire to impede the arrival of the police during one of the many protests around Brazil’s major cities in Porto Alegre, June 17, 2013. REUTERS/Gustavo Vara

“Pardon the inconvenience, Brazil is changing.” Roughly 200,000 Brazilians took to the streets to air grievances against the Brazilian government’s poor public services, police violence and corruption in the largest protests since 1985:

The marches, organized mostly through snowballing social media campaigns, blocked streets and halted traffic in more than a half-dozen cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, where demonstrators climbed onto the roof of Brazil’s Congress building and then stormed it. Monday’s demonstrations were the latest in a flurry of protests in the past two weeks that have added to growing unease over Brazil’s sluggish economy, high inflation and a spurt in violent crime.

The protests were triggered by an increase in public transit fares, and were exacerbated by the start of the Confederation’s Cup, a soccer tournament that has cost taxpayers billions while public services disappoint. Watch footage from the massive protests here.

Nota Bene: Shuttering state television has come back to bite Greece’s prime minister.


Monied monks – Thai Buddhist monks are living the high life. (Quartz)

Turkish miracle chokes – Reuters editor Hugo Dixon warns that unrest in Turkey could have economic ramifications. (Reuters)

Bear pause – China border officials seize more than 200 bear paws en route from Russia. (BBC)

Holy Harley – The Pope blesses thousands of bikers on their Harley Davidson motorcycles. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Hamburg’s human zoo – An unorthodox public art project puts unwanted humans on display in Hamburg. (The Atlantic Cities)

From the File:

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