A Tale of Two Cities

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Trump admin quiet on Moscow protests while defending Hong Kong's demonstrations

Trump admin quiet on Moscow protests while defending Hong Kong's demonstrations


CONOR FINNEGAN

ABC NewsAugust 12, 2019



Hong Kong airport shuts down as protesters take over

Hong Kong airport shuts down as protesters take over

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Trump admin quiet on Moscow protests while defending Hong Kong's demonstrationsoriginally appeared on abcnews.go.com

For more than a month now, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of two major cities to demand democratic reforms and been met by strong crackdowns by their government. But only one of those movements is getting vocal support from the U.S.

In Hong Kong, demonstrations shut down much of the territory, including the airport, for the 10th weekend in a row. What initially began as outrage over legislation that would allow extraditions from Hong Kong to mainland China have burned on -- even after authorities said they would not pursue the bill -- and protesters are now demanding that the bill be formally withdrawn, an investigation be launched into police brutality against demonstrators and they want broader democratic reforms.

Moscow has now seen four weekends with protesters filling the streets to demand that opposition candidates be included on the ballot for city elections in September. As those protests have grown and hundreds have been taken into custody, protesters are now also calling for their release.

(MORE: Hong Kong International Airport cancels all departing flights as anti-government protesters occupy terminals)



PHOTO: Law enforcement officers detain Daria Sosnovskaya after a rally to demand authorities allow opposition candidates to run in the upcoming local election in Moscow, Aug. 10, 2019. (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

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(MORE: Over 1,000 protesters arrested at opposition rally in Moscow)

In both cities, authorities have responded with fierce crackdowns that have, at times, included the use of brute force.

Hundreds of people have been detained by law enforcement in Moscow each weekend. On Aug. 10, more than 350 people were arrested for participating in unsanctioned protests in Moscow and other cities, according to independent rights watchdog OVD-Info, which reported that more than 1,000 people were detained during Aug. 3 protests and approximately 1,400 people on July 27.

(MORE: Putin critic Alexey Navalny, following illness, suspects he may have been poisoned

Opposition leaders have also been targeted, with one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's top opponents, Alexey Navalny, and his doctor accusing the government of poisoning him. Lyubov Sobol, who was one of the independent candidates barred from the ballot, live-streamed video as police entered her home and arrested her this past weekend.

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On Sunday, there was a dramatic escalation of violence in Hong Kong too, with riot police firing tear gas in subway stations and bean bag rounds at close range. Demonstrators wore eye patches on Monday in symbolic solidarity with a woman who was reportedly hit in the eye on Sunday with a bean bag round and allegedly sustained permanent vision loss.

Since the movement's peaceful beginnings in early June, the demonstrations have, at times, turned violent and confrontational in response to police attempts to disperse crowds. Protesters have also been assaulted by pro-Beijing vigilantes that may have ties to organized crime. In the chaos, Hong Kong authorities have tried to paint protesters as violent Western-backed riots.

ABC News@ABC

Hong Kong police clashed with protesters at a main train station as pro-democracy protests stretched into their 10th week with no sign of either side backing down. https://abcn.ws/31s2viG
3912:08 PM - Aug 12, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy
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In response to these events, the Trump administration has repeatedly voiced support for the demonstrations in Hong Kong while saying next to nothing about Moscow.

After protests the last three weekends in both cities, ABC News asked the State Department for a response to the mass arrests and the protesters' demands. Each time, a department spokesperson declined to take questions on Moscow and instead referred to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's comments on July 29.



PHOTO: Police advance towards protesters during a rally against a controversial extradition law proposal outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, June 12, 2019. (Dale De La Rey/AFP/Getty Images)