December 2013 Current Events: World News
Here are the key events in world news for the month of December 2013.
Massive Protests Call for Resignation of Ukraine Leader (Dec. 1): Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Kiev demand that President Viktor Yanukovich resign. The protestors also call for the country to develop stronger ties to Europe and the West. Demonstrators chant, "Revolution! Revolution!" Former Interior Minister Yuri V. Lutsenko speaks at the protest. To the crowd, he says, "I want the authorities to know that this is not a protest; this is a revolution!" During the protest, smoke bombs and stun grenades are used. Police respond by using tear gas. More than fifty protestors and at least a hundred police officers are injured. The protest is the eleventh consecutive day demonstrators have gathered to voice their growing concern and anger over Yanukovich's refusal to sign political and free trade agreements with the European Union due to threats of heavy trade sanctions by Russia. Of the Ukraine's decision, the European Union's Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton says, "This is a disappointment not just for the E.U. but, we believe, for the people of Ukraine. It would have provided a unique opportunity to reverse the recent discouraging trend of decreasing foreign investment."
Nelson Mandela Dies (Dec. 5): After a lung infection and several months of ill health, Nelson Mandela dies at age 95. The former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize recipient is mourned all over the world.
The Indian Supreme Court Bans Gay Sex (Dec. 11): The Supreme Court reinstates an 1861 law in India banning gay sex. The ruling comes after the court determined that the law had been improperly ruled unconstitutional by a lower court in 2009. The Supreme Court rules that only Parliament has the power to change the 1861 law, which includes a decade long jail sentence for "carnal intercourse against the order of nature with man, woman or animal." (Dec. 12): Following the verdict, protests are held across India and the world as part of a global day of rage. Facebook gets involved in the protest, too, creating a Gay For a Day campaign that goes viral. India's ruling Congress party speaks out against the Supreme Court's ruling. In a rare public statement, Sonia Gandhi, leader of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that heads up the ruling Congress party, says, "The High Court had wisely removed an archaic, repressive and unjust law that infringed on the basic human rights enshrined in our Constitution." Other leaders from India's finance minister to the country's law minister speak out against the ruling, which is also condemned internationally.
Punk Band Members Freed from Russian Jail (Dec. 19): Russia's President Vladimir Putin announces that the two members of Pussy Riot who are still in jail will be released under an amnesty. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, age 24, and Maria Alyokhina, age 25, have been serving a two-year jail sentence and will be released, in part, because they are both mothers to young children. After announcing their release, Putin adds, "I was not sorry that they ended up behind bars. I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women."
Multiple Bombings Raise Fears for Olympics (Dec. 29): At least sixteen people are killed in a suicide bombing at a railroad station in Volgograd, a city in southern Russia. Nearly three dozen others are wounded. (Dec. 30): Another suicide bombing takes place on a trolley bus in the same city. At least ten people are killed and ten others are wounded. Both explosions come just six weeks before the Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, 400 miles away from Volgograd. Never has a host country experienced this level of violent terrorism so close to the Olympic Games. President Putin vows to double security in all of Russia's railway stations and airports. During the Olympics, more than 40,000 law enforcement officials will be on hand at the event.