- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 12, 2004

RUSSIA

Opposition candidate says he feared for life

MOSCOW — The strange tale of Ivan Rybkin grew even murkier yesterday when the would-be Russian president said he had felt under threat from special-service agents during his mysterious five-day absence in Ukraine.

But, in an often-incoherent account, the former parliament speaker failed to answer other questions about his disappearance, which might damage his credibility as a presidential challenger. Mr. Rybkin, 57, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, returned to Moscow Tuesday night.

BRITAIN

Plea to tone down gay-clergy debate

LONDON — Church of England leaders issued a plea yesterday for more understanding and less acrimony in the divisive debate over homosexuality in the church.

The church’s governing General Synod endorsed a report by bishops calling for “interpretive charity” between reformers and conservatives — and a balancing of biblical teaching with social reality — in the debate that is threatening to split the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.

The consecration of V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire last November has divided the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the 2.3 million-member Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch.

CUBA

Official replaced in tourism shake-up

HAVANA — Cuba replaced its tourism minister yesterday in a shake-up that has put executives from a military-run corporation in charge of the country’s main dollar-earning industry.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said Ibrahim Ferradaz had been relieved of his duties as minister and replaced by Manuel Marrero.

AFGHANISTAN

Suicide attacker kills intelligence chief

KABUL — A gunman killed the deputy provincial intelligence chief and then blew himself up in the city of Khost yesterday in the country’s third suicide attack this year.

The Taliban claimed it carried out the attack on Maj. Mohammed Isa Khan, adding weight to the group’s threat of a suicide campaign that began with the killings of two international peacekeepers in Kabul.

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO

U.N. prosecutor says Karadzic in Belgrade

BELGRADE — U.N. war-crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte yesterday asserted that top Bosnian Serb fugitive Radovan Karadzic was living in Belgrade, drawing an immediate challenge from Serbs to “tell us the address.”

If widely credited, her charge could wreck Serbia’s efforts to prove it was cooperating as best it can with The Hague tribunal to capture the genocide suspect, an assurance that means continued U.S. aid and vital access to international funds.

BRITAIN

Scientists to probe missing Mars lander

LONDON — European scientists signaled the end of their hunt for the missing Beagle 2 Mars lander yesterday by announcing an investigation into the disappearance of the British-built spacecraft.

Beagle 2, part of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express mission, was scheduled to land on the Red Planet on Dec. 25. The lander has not been heard from since it separated from the mother ship in mid-December, despite contact efforts by Mars Express, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter and British and U.S. radio telescopes.

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