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Some of the praise was so extreme as to appear almost like a subtle form of satire on Mr. Putin’s heroic representations in state media.

Some Putin opponents used the occasion to poke fun at him.


Celebrities sign letter urging crackdown on phone hacking

LONDON | Dozens of Britons who suspect their phones were tapped illegally by journalists have written to Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to consider tighter press regulation.

Celebrities, including actors Hugh Grant and Jude Law, were among 60 people who signed the open letter, which expressed alarm at news reports that Mr. Cameron will reject press regulation proposals from the Leveson inquiry, the investigation into Britain’s media ethics.

The letter — which calls for an end to self-regulation by the press — asks for assurances that Mr. Cameron will consider recommendations from the inquiry with an open mind.

The inquiry was set up in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal, which exposed widespread illegal behavior across the industry.

Mr. Cameron told the BBC on Sunday that he wants to improve press practices but rejects “heavy-handed state intervention.”


Activists call for Europeans to end bias against Gypsies

PARIS — Anti-racism activists, Gypsy musicians and others gathered in European cities to protest violence and discrimination against Roma and to celebrate their culture.

Dozens of people participated in the Roma Pride event Saturday on Paris’ Left Bank. Organizer Benjamin Abtan said a march was organized in central Prague, and conferences were held in Bulgaria, Denmark and other cities.

“We are a demanding a Europe-wide fight against racism and discrimination [and] to celebrate the diversity of Gypsy culture, which is an integral part of European culture,” he said.

The events were held amid tensions in France over what to do about makeshift camps of Roma in cities nationwide.

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