- The Washington Times - Friday, January 1, 2010

NORTH KOREA

Pyongyang vows nuclear-free Koreas

SEOUL | North Korea says it remains committed to achieve a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiations.

In a New Year’s message, North Korea also said Friday that it will strive to develop good relations and friendship with other countries, while calling for an end of hostile relations with the United States.

The message said, “It is the consistent stand of the [North] to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations.”

North Korea traditionally marks New Year’s Day with a joint editorial by the country’s three major newspapers representing its communist party, military and youth militia force. The editorial was carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency.

LITHUANIA

Soviet reactor being mothballed

VILNIUS | Engineers at Lithuania’s Soviet-built nuclear power plant began shutting down a Soviet-built nuclear reactor Thursday as part of an agreement with the European Union, which considers the Chernobyl-type machine unsafe.

The shutdown has been greeted with anguish across Lithuania, as the recession-hit country will lose a source of cheap electricity and be forced to import more expensive energy.

The Ignalina nuclear plant in the town of Visaginas is scheduled to cease producing electricity at one hour before midnight local time.

Ordered closed by the European Union because it is considered too similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl in 1986, it boasts a capacity of 1,320 megawatts, making it one of the largest nuclear reactors in the world.

FINLAND

Gunman kills 5, commits suicide

ESPOO | A lone gunman dressed in black killed five people, four in a crowded shopping mall, before returning home and taking his own life Thursday. It was the third such massacre in Finland in about two years and once again raised questions about gun control in a Nordic country where hunting is popular.

Police identified the killer as 43-year-old Ibrahim Shkupolli, an ethnic Albanian immigrant from Kosovo who had been living for several years in Finland, and the national tragedy cast a pall over the nation’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Apparently distraught by failed personal relations, Shkupolli killed his ex-girlfriend, a Finnish woman, at her home, and four employees of the Prisma grocery store at the Sello shopping mall in Espoo, 6 miles west of Helsinki, the capital.

RUSSIA

Police detain rights activist

MOSCOW | Police detained dozens of people at an anti-Kremlin protest Thursday, including 82-year-old Lyudmila Alexeyeva, one of Russia’s most respected rights activists.

Ms. Alexeyeva was among those seen being pushed into five buses as police broke up the protest on a central Moscow square.

Her detention drew criticism from rights groups and the head of the presidential human rights council, Ella Pamfilova, who said on Echo Moscow radio that she was working to get all the protesters released.

Reached late in the evening by cell phone, Ms. Alexeyeva said she was in the office of the Moscow police chief, who had promised to release all of the protesters. She was free but said she would not leave until the others were released.

She had arrived at the New Year’s Eve protest dressed as the Snow Maiden, the companion of Grandfather Frost. Police had forbidden the protest on the grounds that it would interfere with New Year’s festivities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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