[guest post by Dana]
It’s incredible what is happening in Hong Kong and Russia.
From Hong Kong:
Water cannon trucks were kept on standby as pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong marched through the dense city centre after assembling at Victoria Park in Hong Kong on a rain-soaked Sunday afternoon, reported South China Morning Post.
The demonstrators filled the streets as there was not enough space at the park. The police approved the rally but objected to plans to march to the central district because of previous clashes that had occurred there. However, protestors defied the police instructions and marched anyway, reported The New York Times.
By mid-afternoon, the park was filled with tens of thousands of people. Protestors brought traffic on a multilane main road in the Causeway Bay shopping district to a halt. As the crowd inched toward the park, they shouted: “People of Hong Kong, keep fighting.”
China is none too happy with the support protesters are receiving from the US:
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s legislature condemned statements from US legislators supporting the protestors. You Wenze called the statements by senators and Congress representatives “a gross violation of the spirit of the rule of law, a blatant double standard and a gross interference in China’s internal affairs”.
(Actually, neither China nor Russia are happy with the US support of the freedom-seeking protesters.)
Russian opposition activists staged a string of pickets in central Moscow on Saturday to call for free elections and for charges against protesters detained at recent rallies to be dropped.
Moscow has been rocked by weekly protests for more than a month since the authorities barred opposition candidates from running in an election for the city’s legislature in September.
Police have briefly detained more than 2,000 protesters in recent weeks, launched criminal cases against some dozen people for mass disorder and used force to disperse what they said were illegal protests.
The recent opposition demonstrations have turned into the biggest sustained protest movement in Russia since 2011-2013, when protesters took to the streets against perceived electoral fraud.
Russia is also dealing with fallout from the explosion of a small nuclear reactor last week that left five scientists dead:
The blast occurred Aug. 8 during a test of a missile that used “isotope power sources,” Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom said over the weekend. The Defense Ministry initially reported two were killed in the accident, which it said involved testing of a liquid-fueled missile engine. The ministry didn’t mention the nuclear element.
It caused a brief spike in radiation in the nearby port city of Severodvinsk, according to a statement on the local administration’s website that was later removed. The Russian military said radiation levels were normal but disclosed few details about the incident.
The incident comes after a series of massive explosions earlier last week at a Siberian military depot killed one and injured 13, as well as forcing the evacuation of 16,500 people from their homes. Russia’s navy has suffered numerous high-profile accidents over the years. In July, 14 sailors died in a fire aboard a nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in an incident on which officials initially refused to comment. A top naval official later said the men gave their lives preventing a “planetary catastrophe.”
Horribly, hospital workers were not informed about the serious risks of treating the injured who had been exposed to radiation:
The three injured men arrived at the hospital around 4:30 pm, naked and wrapped in translucent plastic bags. The state of the patients made staff suspect they were dealing with something very serious. But the only information they had at the time was that there had been an explosion at a nearby military site around noon.
“No one — neither hospital directors, nor Health Ministry officials, nor regional officials or the governor — notified staff that the patients were radioactive,” one of the clinic’s surgeons told The Moscow Times by phone this week. “The hospital workers had their suspicions, but nobody told them to protect themselves.”
Reportedly, after the explosion, radiation spiked to as much as 20 times its normal level for about 30 minutes within the region. Medical professionals tasked with treating the patients were “encouraged” by state authorities to sign non-disclosure agreements. The general consensus among staff was, you don’t say no to such a request.
Hospital workers were angered by the lack of information given them about the danger they faced when treating the patients, but officials refused to address their concerns directly:
All of the accounts also ask why state personnel exposed to radiation would be sent to a civilian hospital, rather than a military one, in the first place. The doctors who spoke to The Moscow Times said they and their colleagues had prepared a thorough list of questions for Health Ministry representatives who visited on Aug. 12 to clarify the staff’s concerns, and not a single one was answered clearly.
Rather than answers, the doctors were offered a trip to Moscow for tests…one of the doctors flown to Moscow was found to have Caesium-137 — a radioactive isotope that is a byproduct of the nuclear fission of uranium-235 — in their muscle tissue.
According to three of the doctors, two of the three patients that were treated at the Arkhangelsk Regional Clinical Hospital didn’t even reach Moscow, dying en route to the airport.
They said that security services officers who visited the hospital on Aug. 9 recovered and deleted all of the information about the incident that was in the hospital’s records.
“It’s as if the event no longer exists,” one of the doctors said. “With no documentation the staff couldn’t try to take anyone to court, even if they wanted to.”
P.S. U.S. officials believe [the exploion] may have involved work on a new nuclear-powered cruise missile, and could have contaminated the region with radioactive waste.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)