- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 26, 2001

Chechen rebel leader is jailed for life
MAKHACHKALA, Russia A Russian court convicted Chechen rebel commander Salman Raduyev of terrorism and murder yesterday and sentenced him to life in a maximum-security prison.
Raduyev is the only prominent rebel commander to be arrested and brought to trial since the Russian army entered the breakaway southern region seven years ago.
Raduyev is best known for leading a January 1996 raid in which 78 persons were killed in Kizlyar, a town near Chechnya's border. The rebels took hundreds of hostages at a hospital and used some as human shields before escaping after an eight-day battle with Russian troops outside town.

Channel tunnel shut to nab refugees
LILLE, France Passenger and freight-train traffic through the Channel tunnel was halted today as French authorities hunted for refugees trying to enter Britain illegally, officials said.
French police sources said about 100 refugees had been detained after they broke into the tunnel area on Christmas Day, leaving possibly 50 still to be tracked down.

Czech President Havel home from hospital
PRAGUE, Czech Republic Czech President Vaclav Havel was released from the hospital yesterday after more than a week recovering from pneumonia.
Mr. Havel, 65, has a long history of respiratory problems and has been hospitalized four times this year. A former chain smoker, he has suffered from chronic bronchitis since a third of his lung was removed in December 1996 after the discovery of a cancerous tumor.

Brush fires rage across Australia
SYDNEY, Australia Natural-disaster areas have been declared in parts of Australia as brush fires raged out of control with fire crews watching the wind after a day of disrupted Christmas celebrations and the destruction of scores of homes.
There were no reports of death or serious injury although dozens of firefighters have been treated for smoke inhalation and irritated eyes.
The New South Wales state government declared disaster areas in regions to the west and north of the country's main city, Sydney, and near the coast where the worst of the fires are located.

Russian whistleblower found guilty of treason
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia A military journalist who reported on environmental abuses by the Russian navy was convicted of espionage and sentenced yesterday to four years in a maximum-security prison for treason.
A military court in Vladivostok found Grigory Pasko guilty of illegally attending a secret meeting of Russian Pacific Fleet commanders in 1997 and possessing notes he made at the meeting, where officers discussed the results of naval maneuvers.
Pasko initially had been accused of divulging state secrets on the combat readiness of Russia's Pacific Fleet to Japanese media.

Russia's NTV channel says it is solvent
MOSCOW Russia's NTV television channel, whose takeover by state-affiliated gas monopoly Gazprom earlier this year sparked a dispute over media freedoms, said yesterday it had paid off debts that threatened to fold the company.
NTV said in a statement the debts to a state-owned communications company had accrued during 1999-2001 while the channel, then the only national television station outside the Kremlin's control, was trying to fight Gazprom's takeover bid.
It said Moscow's arbitration court had stopped bankruptcy proceedings against NTV on Monday

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