- - Sunday, September 25, 2011

RUSSIA

Finance minister to quit over Medvedev

MOSCOW — Russia’s finance minister said he will step down rather than serve under Dmitry Medvedev if the president becomes prime minister next year as planned.

Alexei Kudrin has been finance minister since 2000, and his conservative fiscal policies are widely credited with helping Russia weather the global financial crisis.

He is close to Vladimir Putin, the current prime minister, who on Saturday announced his intention to return to the presidency next year. Mr. Putin said he would then name Mr. Medvedev prime minister.

Mr. Kudrin told Russia’s state news agencies in Washington later Saturday that he would not serve in Mr. Medvedev’s government because of disagreements over economic policy.

SPAIN

Catalonia bids farewell to bullfighting

BARCELONA — Spain’s powerful northeastern region of Catalonia bid farewell Sunday to the country’s emblematic tradition of bullfighting with a final bash at the Barcelona bullring.

The sold-out evening event at the 20,000-seat Monumental ring was the last fight scheduled this season. A regional ban on the bloody pastime takes effect Jan. 1.

Bullfighting’s popularity in Catalonia has plunged in recent decades, and the Monumental was its last functioning ring.

The Catalan Parliament banned the spectacle in July 2010 after a signature-collection campaign by animal rights activists.

But critics say the ban is less about animal welfare and more a snub to Spain by independence-minded Catalans.

The prohibition caused a furor and triggered a nationwide debate over the centuries-old spectacle that inspired such artists and writers as Goya, Picasso and Hemingway.

“Banning bullfighting in Catalonia is nothing more than an attack on liberty,” said Carlos Nunez, president of Spain’s Mesa del Toro pro-bullfighting umbrella group. “It’s the fruit of policies in Catalonia against bullfighting and all that is seen to represent Spain.”

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