- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

Putin draws criticism on Chechen stand

MOSCOW In rare criticism within Russia of President Vladimir Putin's policies in Chechnya, a leading liberal politician yesterday said Russia's army in the region is falling apart as a fighting force and is afflicted with alcoholism and drug addiction.
Boris Nemtsov, head of the Union of Right Forces faction in parliament, said Russia should end the war by opening negotiations with Chechen guerrilla leaders.
The comments came after Mr. Nemtsov met with a rebel envoy in the southern Russian city of Nazran on Saturday in what some saw as a backdoor contact for Russia's government with the rebel forces.

Nepal's Koirala faces ouster in party revolt

KATMANDU, Nepal Nepal's prime minister faced possible ouster because of a rebellion in his own party yesterday, as 56 lawmakers drafted a no-confidence motion against him.
The lawmakers are angered over Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala's failure to quell a Maoist insurgency and provide stability the same charges Mr. Koirala made when he led the ouster of the last prime minister in March.
"We were compelled to file the motion seeking Koirala's ouster to prevent the country from plunging into a crisis," said Sher Bahadur Deuba, the leader of the rebellious lawmakers.

Cuba, China OK new defense links

HAVANA Cuba and China have signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation between their armed forces, Cuban state media said yesterday.
The protocol was signed Wednesday by Gen. Fu Quanyou, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and by his Cuban counterpart, Gen. Alvaro Lopez.
The Chinese defense official was on a five-day goodwill visit to the communist-ruled Caribbean island.

Catholic priest slain by suspected Muslim

JOLO, Philippines A Roman Catholic priest on his way to buy holiday presents was shot and killed yesterday by a suspected Muslim rebel on this southern Philippine island, military officials said.

The Rev. Benjamin Inocencio, 41, of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order, was being driven to a store to buy gifts for a church workers' Christmas party.

He was in the back of the cathedral on Jolo Island, about 580 miles south of Manila, when a lone rebel approached his jeep and shot him twice in the head with a pistol, Jolo police Chief Mohammed Noh Alamia said.

Fire victims' kin protest in China

LUOYANG, China Angered by revelations of years of safety violations at a shopping center that caught fire on Christmas, the relatives of hundreds who perished in the blaze marched yesterday to demand better public safety and complain of callous treatment by authorities.
Twelve persons, including four welders accused of accidentally sparking the fire that sent smoke shooting up to the fourth-floor disco where most of the 309 victims died, were arrested.

Colombia kidnappings set new record

BOGOTA, Colombia Colombia, the kidnapping capital of the world, set a new record this year with more than 3,000 abductions, according to a report from a private monitoring group.
The war-ravaged South American country has an average of more than nine reported abductions each day, mainly by leftist guerrillas and criminals seeking ransoms.
The report, issued Wednesday by the private Free Country foundation, said at least 3,029 persons were kidnapped through November, compared with 2,757 during all of 1999. Many cases are never reported to monitoring groups or authorities.

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