- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 29, 2002

UKRAINE
Court throws out case against president
KIEV Ukraine's Supreme Court killed opposition hopes of mounting a legal challenge to President Leonid Kuchma on Friday, ruling that a criminal probe against him had been opened illegally.
In October, Yury Vasilenko, a judge at the Court of Appeal in Kiev, ordered prosecutors to investigate opposition charges against Mr. Kuchma of corruption, abuse of power and arms sales to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions.
A Supreme Court spokeswoman said the court has concluded that Mr. Vasilenko "violated significantly" Ukraine's Constitution and abused his authority and has revoked his orders.
Opposition leaders accuse Mr. Kuchma of involvement in the murder of Georgiy Gongadze, a reporter whose headless corpse was found two years ago.
SWITZERLAND
Court gives go-ahead to book on bin Laden
LAUSANNE Switzerland's highest court Friday gave the go-ahead to the sale of a book about Osama bin Laden, rejecting appeals by his Swiss half-brother to block its sale.
Yeslam Binladin who spells his name differently from the terrorist mastermind had sought to have the book "The Forbidden Truth" banned on the grounds that it implied that he and his Saudi Investment Co. had helped bankroll the al Qaeda network.
The Federal Tribunal ruled that the book, by French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, did not prove any effective links between him and the al Qaeda chief.

FRANCE
Comic book addiction grows
PARIS The French are increasingly opening comic books, and not only of the Asterix variety, according to a study of the sector put out by France's Association for Comic Book Critics (ABCD).
Since 1996, readership of "bandes dessinees," as they are called in French, has steadily increased, so much so that now more than one reader in three is poring over the pages of the two-dimensional stories, the study by ABCD secretary Gilles Ratier shows.
And while Asterix and Obelix might be the best-known representatives of the genre, the best-sellers indicate that buyers range from children to adults drawn by action adventures. "Titeuf," a Bart Simpson-like creation, tops the pre-adolescent market, selling 1.4 million copies this year.
Weekly notes
Not only is President Vladimir Putin Russia's most popular politician, he must also be the country's biggest recipient of mail, receiving more than 10,000 letters in the third week of December 10 percent of them devoted to social issues. At midmonth, Mr. Putin took to the airwaves for two hours, answering 51 questions from Russians who complained about everything from a lack of heating to low pensions and expensive medicine. Britain's Queen Elizabeth said in her annual televised Christmas message she had no plans to step down, despite an often-difficult Golden Jubilee year, in which her mother and sister died and the royal family faced heavy criticism. "I look forward to continuing to serve you to the very best of my ability each and every day," the 76-year-old queen declared.

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