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Civic activism will show whether democracy prevails in Ukraine

The March 7 article, " 'Color Revolutions Wane," discussed the rocky transition in Ukraine and the "failure of popular pressure to effect change in other Soviet satellite states."

What occurs after an autocratic government is removed with the help of a popular nonviolent movement does not lessen the value of replacing that government with one that is genuinely elected by a democratic majority and that honors basic rights.

The Orange Revolution has given inspiration to civic activists in other countries along Russia's periphery, such as Azerbaijan, Belarus, and Uzbekistan. Moscow's ability to reassert its influence in the region is not the most important, nor the most interesting factor in determining whether people power will prevail in this region. Neither is the US government's democracy agenda.

The most important factors are the skill and courage of ordinary citizens in using nonviolent resistance, including strikes, boycotts, and mass protests, to assert and defend their rights. Their determination and their strategies will ultimately be decisive.
Maria J. Stephan
Washington Manager, Educational Initiatives, International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Most animal advocates shun violence

Regarding the March 7 article, "Crackdown on animal rights activists": The trial of activists convicted of inciting violence against animal researchers and those connected to them exposes the conduct of a handful of individuals whose behavior is reviled by mainstream animal advocates.

Millions of Americans care about the welfare of animals, and also believe harassment, vandalism, and threats are wholly unacceptable and inconsistent with a core ethic of promoting compassion and respect.

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