SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — Volodymyr Protsenko has given himself until March 16 to speak his mind.
But after next Sunday, when residents of Crimea are set to head to the polls in a vote that’s expected to back a decision by the new Moscow-installed authorities to join Russia, the 60-year-old writer and Ukrainian nationalist says he’ll clam up.
Writing about Ukraine’s rocky history under Soviet rule had been risky enough in this historically Russian city of about 340,000, where nostalgia for the USSR runs high and tolerance for pro-Ukraine sentiments remains low.
Now, Protsenko says, it may be outright dangerous.
“After the referendum, I won’t say a word,” he says. “They’ll pressure me into promising I won’t speak out.”
Nationally conscious Ukrainians like Protsenko — a career police officer-turned-poet — have never felt completely at ease in Sevastopol, where they constitute a small minority of the population. But many fear bigger troubles are only beginning.
Postcard from Sevastopol: Where it’s not safe to be pro-Ukraine
Photo by AFP/Getty Images
Three years after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s coast, triggering a huge wall of water that engulfed entire villages and towns, the search for victims continues.
Japan on Tuesday marked the third anniversary of the quake-tsunami disaster that swept away more than 18,000 people, flattened coastal communities and triggered a nuclear crisis.
via AFP/Getty Images
President Barack Obama on Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.
→ He's short, but is he crazy? A brief psychoanalysis of Vladimir Putin
For some, he’s the man without a face. For others, he has too many. He’s a thug, a killer, a statesman, a dude. He’s widely admired and even more widely reviled.
One thing is certain: Russian President Vladimir Putin is not an easy man to fit into clear categories. Rather, he is a human Rorschach blot into which the observer projects a revealing chunk of his or her own worldview.
Since the Ugandan parliament passed the anti-homosexuality bill in December 2013, the kuchu population—as its lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex citizens are known—has been fleeing the country in droves for even slightly more tolerant neighboring states such as Kenya, Burundi, and Rwanda. Those brave enough to stay have been forced to take their personal lives even further underground. The few community gatherings and safe spaces that once existed for kuchus have vanished.
On February 24, 2014, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. Leaving Kuchus to continue facing the daily reality of harrowing discrimination, constant harassment, and death threats––and now, the threat of imprisonment.
View more from Pulitzer Center grantee Daniella Zalcman’s project: Kuchus in Uganda.
To learn more about homophobia around the globe, read Pulitzer Center grantee Daniella Zalcman’s reporting from Uganda and Pulitzer Center grantee Micah Fink’s reporting from Jamaica.
Nigeria closes schools in order to prevent Boko Haram attacks
Nigeria has shut five government-run schools in the country’s northeast in the wake of a deadly series of attacks targeting students.
A ministry of education statement issued late Wednesday said the affected schools were “located within the high security risk areas of the northeast geo-political zone.”
Students of the schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, which are worst hit by the Boko Haramviolence, would be absorbed into other government schools, it added.
Last week, 43 students were shot and hacked to death when suspected Boko Haram gunmen stormed Federal Government College in Buni Yadi, Yobe state.
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
Senior Correspondent Tristan McConnell who has reported on Boko Haram previously answers some questions about the ongoing crisis.
CARACAS, Venezuela — Tear gas canisters rocket into the sky like signal flares and explode in mid-flight. The protesters’ wall of improvised riot shields collapses, a useless defense against the insidious weapon.
One rioter wearing a Coke-bottle-turned-gas mask picks up a nearby canister, its contents still billowing. He runs it toward the police line, returning it back over their riot shields. Hitting his target he removes his mask and roars a chant, joined by his fellows. “The government will fall” echoes through the streets of Caracas.
Nightly riots like this one have left scars on Altamira, an opposition-strong district of the Venezuelan capital. Burnt asphalt, battered brick walls and graffiti-covered buildings are marks of countrywide demonstrations that have claimed more than a dozen lives. The protests aimed at ousting President Nicolas Maduro are entering their fourth week and show no sign of abating.
A night in the life of a Venezuela rioter
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Photos via AFP/Getty Images
Myanmar’s Muslim population is typically cited as 4 percent of its people, a figure declared by the last census in 1983. That tally was conducted under the iron rule of the dictator Ne Win, architect of the authoritarian ideology that gave Myanmar its infamy. Then and today, the dominant Buddhist faith is enshrined in law and society as superior to all others.
According to the International Crisis Group, the old regime likely cooked the books. Without naming sources, the watchdog group states “strong indications” that the real figure was 10 percent, but a “a political decision was taken to publish a more acceptable figure of 4 percent.” The Burmese Muslim Association, relying on intel from thousands of mosques, says the true figure is likely somewhere between 8 and 12 percent.
The International Crisis Group warns that authentic numbers could be “mistakenly interpreted as providing evidence for a three-fold increase in the Muslim population … a potentially dangerous call to arms for extremist movements.”
Proving that more than 1-in-10 inhabitants of Myanmar are Muslim would indeed play into the delusions of hyper-nationalist Buddhist vigilantes, who are personified by a movement known as 969. Its leading voice, a monk named Wirathu, told GlobalPost last year that “Muslims are like the African carp. They breed quickly and they are very violent and they eat their own kind.”
Myanmar’s upcoming census could spark anti-Muslim violence
Photo by AFP/Getty Images