- - Sunday, August 26, 2012

Great Britain

LONDON — Britain’s iconic Houses of Parliament in London could close for up to five years while essential repairs are carried out, the Sunday Times newspaper said.

The broadsheet said several options were on the table while the plumbing and electrical system are refurbished and the building is purged of asbestos. The options including leaving the Palace of Westminster for good.

“Officials are undertaking an initial study into options for the long-term upkeep of the palace,” a spokesman for parliament’s lower House of Commons said.

“It is anticipated that the results of the initial study will be considered by the House of Commons commission and the House of Lords committee by the end of the year.”

The Sunday Times said the Commons and the upper House of Lords could be evacuated for the first time since World War II, when the palace was repeatedly hit in Nazi air raids.

Options include leaving the palace, selling it and constructing a new building; constructing a temporary replica chamber on the palace grounds; or spreading the repair work out across decades of parliamentary breaks.

The interiors of the riverside Perpendicular Gothic palace, completed in 1870, have not been refurbished since the 1940s.

Parliament and the Treasury would have to approve the plans, the report said.


Punk rock activists on the run, band says

MOSCOW — A controversial Russian punk band says two activists who were being sought by police have left the country.

Five members of the feminist group took part in a provocative performance inside Moscow’s main cathedral in February to protest President Vladimir Putin’s rule and his cozy relationship with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The women wore their trademark balaclavas, but only three were identified and arrested. After a trial that drew international attention and support from major pop singers such as Madonna, they were sentenced Aug. 17 to two years in prison.

Days later, Moscow police said they were searching for the others in what was seen as a warning to the group to stop its anti-Putin protests.

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