Ukrainian voters affirm embrace of Europe and reject far right
KIEV, Ukraine — In a parliamentary election with historic ramifications, Ukrainians overwhelmingly reaffirmed on Sunday their support for the ideals of the February revolt in the Maidan and the country’s push to the West, while rejecting far-right nationalist parties.
The result, with pro-European political parties led by President Petro O. Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy P. Yatsenyuk winning the largest number of seats in Parliament, solidifies the authority of a government that, despite firm Western backing, has been unable to suppress a violent, pro-Russian separatist movement along Ukraine’s eastern border.
The challenge of soothing concerns in eastern Ukraine will be heightened by the fact that voting was impossible in many parts of the region, where pro-Russian rebels largely made good on their promise to block the vote. Voting also did not take place in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March. As a result, as many as 27 of the 450 seats in Parliament — 12 in Crimea and 15 in eastern Ukraine — will remain unfilled, at least initially.
With nearly 70 percent of votes counted by Monday evening, Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front had garnered a surprising 21.7 percent of votes, slightly outpacing the president’s coalition, Bloc Petro Poroshenko, which had 21.4 percent in the nationwide vote for party preference, according to the Central Election Commission.
Poroshenko’s party, however, was on track to win a larger number of races in the individual districts that fill half of the Parliament’s 450 seats, virtually assuring that it would be the dominant force in any majority coalition.
In a sign of how intensely Ukrainians wanted to break from their Soviet past, not a single Communist Party candidate was elected. In a message on Twitter, Poroshenko noted that it would be the first time in 96 years that Communists would not be represented in the Ukrainian legislature. More relevant to Ukraine’s current situation, however, was the poor showing of the far-right parties that Russia had accused of seizing control of Ukrainian politics, and that the Kremlin said were a reason for its invasion and annexation of Crimea. Right Sector, portrayed as the spearhead of a neofascist coup by Russia’s government-controlled news media since the ouster of the former president, Viktor F. Yanukovych, received only 1.6 percent of the vote, far short of the minimum 5 percent threshold to join Parliament.
—David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times
Death penalty sought for captain in South Korea ferry disaster
GWANGJU, South Korea — Prosecutors on Monday demanded the death penalty for the captain of the South Korean ferry that sank in April, killing 304 people, most of them teenage students, in the country’s worst peacetime disaster in decades.
The 69-year-old captain, Lee Jun-seok, “did nothing to help rescue his passengers,” Park Jae-eok, the chief prosecutor, said during a court hearing in this southwestern city.
Prosecutors demanded life imprisonment for three other crewmen: the first mate, Kang Won-sik; the second mate, Kim Young-ho; and the chief engineer, Park Gi-ho. They called for 15 to 30 years for 11 other crew members, who faced accidental homicide, criminal negligence and other charges.
In their final argument before a court verdict expected Nov. 11, the prosecutors said the 15 crew members of the 6,825-ton Sewol knew that their ship was sinking and that the passengers were waiting inside the ship after repeated instructions for them to stay put. The crew members boarded the first coast guard boats arriving, the prosecutors said. “They only cared about their own lives,” one of the prosecutors said before a courtroom packed with victims’ family members.
The Sewol sank off southwestern South Korea on April 16. It was carrying twice as much cargo as legally allowed, and much of the cargo was poorly secured, prosecutors said.
When the crew members, dressed in pea-green jail uniforms, entered the courtroom and bowed toward the family members, some responded by hissing.
The lawyers for the captain and three others accused of murder all argued against the charge, saying that their clients had no intention of killing the passengers. They also said the blame for the disaster should not be placed on the crew alone.
Crew members, the lawyers said, were also victims of a greedy ferry operator that had given inadequate safety training and ignored repeated warnings about the overloading and instability of the ship.
“I am sorry. I will repent until the last day of my life,” Lee said in a final statement. “When I look back, I feel nothing but shame.”
Many defendants wept during their final statements. “I wish I could turn the clock back,” Park Han-gyeol, the third mate, said.
—Choe Sang-hun, The New York Times
Modest ratings slow World Series momentum
The audience for the World Series on Fox remained stubbornly modest over the weekend. Game 4 on Saturday had an average of 10.7 million viewers and Game 5 on Sunday had 12.6 million. Last year, for the comparable games between Boston and St. Louis -which were played on Sunday and Monday nights — the viewership was 16 million for Game 4 and 14.5 million for Game 5.
Although final viewership figures were not yet available for the early and late Sunday afternoon NFL windows on CBS and Fox, and the Sunday night game on NBC, preliminary ratings indicate that more people watched them than watched the San Francisco Giants win the past two games over the Kansas City Royals.
Against its prime-time competition on Sunday, Fox finished third behind NBC and CBS, in preliminary ratings. The World Series had led Fox to four previous prime-time victories.
A well-played World Series, with good storylines, usually generates national viewership momentum. So far, this year, that has not yet happened. Game 2 has been the most-watched broadcast, with 12.9 million viewers, which would have been the second-smallest in last year’s six-game series. Last year, viewership leaped from 14.5 million in Game 5 to 19.2 million in Game 6.
That could still happen in Game 6 Tuesday in Kansas City, and again, if the series advances to a seventh game.
—Richard Sandomir, The New York Times