- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2000

U.S. slams Kazakhs over media controls

The United States yesterday criticized Kazakhstan for threatening to increase controls on the media just days after pledging to do the opposite when Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visited Central Asia.
Lifting media restrictions was one of a raft of rights issues raised by Mrs. Albright with the region's leaders, including President Nursultan Nazarbayev, whom she met on April 15 as she swept through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
However, a day after Mrs. Albright left the region, Mr. Nazarbayev addressed a meeting on crime and corruption, calling for greater control of the press, which he accused of igniting hatred and blackening the country's name.

Russia: 13,500 rebels die in Chechen war

NAZRAN, Russia Russia has killed more than 13,500 rebels during the Chechen war, a top general claimed yesterday, but officials said the thousands who still remain are dangerous enough that security measures in the republic have been tightened.
Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo said militants are preparing attacks aimed at disrupting the May 9 commemoration of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Mr. Rushailo said the government would focus on preventing attacks, while Russian military sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press that all movement would be restricted in Chechnya through May 10.

All Turkish parties back judge for president

ANKARA, Turkey A top judge who is an outspoken advocate of democratic reforms stood to become Turkey's next president after party leaders in parliament unanimously backed his candidacy yesterday.
Ahmet Necdet Sezer, the chief justice of the country's top court and a strong advocate of the right to free expression, is a candidate likely to please Turkey's Western allies.
Turkey aspires to join the European Union, but the 15-nation group has made it clear that the country needs to take steps to improve human rights.

Nigeria requests debt write-off

ABUJA, Nigeria Nigeria said yesterday the devastating death toll from malaria and AIDS in Africa called for a total write-off of the continent's foreign debt to free resources to combat the twin scourges.
"The gravity of the malaria problem, with all its ramifications, provides a strong case for the forgiveness of all African debts," Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told an African summit on malaria in Abuja.
More than 20 African presidents and heads of international agencies were at the one-day summit meant to refocus attention on malaria, which experts say kills about 2 million people a year, mostly African children.

Salvadoran seeks pardon in nuns' deaths

CARCEL LA ESPERANZA, El Salvador One of two former soldiers imprisoned for the rape and murder of four U.S. religious workers said yesterday that he has asked for a presidential pardon.
Francisco Contreras also reiterated the soldiers' previous defense that they were only acting on orders, and he asked the victims' families for forgiveness.
Contreras is one of five ex-national guardsmen sentenced in 1984 to 30 years in prison for the rape and murder of U.S. nuns Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Dorothy Kazel, and social worker Jean Donovan in December 1980.

Sri Lankan troops die of dehydration

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka At least 30 of the 214 Sri Lankan soldiers who died battling separatist rebels for a major causeway perished of dehydration after guerrillas cut off the area's only water source, military officials said yesterday.
The deaths came after Tamil Tigers overran Yakachchi, the main water source for the large military base at Elephant Pass, and blew up the electric pumps that supplied water to the camps. Yakachchi is the only place in the area where groundwater wells have sweet water.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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