- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 29, 2004

SPAIN

Thousands protest Basque political ban

BILBAO — Thousands demonstrated here yesterday against a decision by the Spanish authorities to ban a Basque separatist coalition from running candidates in European Parliament elections next month.

Between 10,000 and 15,000 people marched through the city center behind an enormous Basque flag to protest a Supreme Court decision to stop Herritarren Zerrenda, from taking part in the vote on June 13.

Madrid has accused the group of being a continuation of the pro-independence Basque group, Batasuna, whose activities have been banned because of its links to the armed separatist group ETA.

RUSSIA

Putin names chief of Northern Fleet

MOSCOW — President Vladimir Putin has appointed Rear Adm. Mikhail Abramov as head of the Russian Northern Fleet, a key component in the country’s navy, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said yesterday.

Adm. Abramov’s appointment follows the four-year suspended sentence handed down earlier this month on his predecessor, Gennady Suchkov, for negligence over the August 2003 sinking of a submarine in the Barents Sea in which nine seamen died.

Adm. Abramov formerly headed the Baltic Fleet, one of the four that make up the Russian navy along with the Northern, Pacific and Black Sea fleets.

BELGIUM

Skin imports banned after Canadian hunt

BRUSSELS — Belgium and Luxembourg have decided to ban imports of seal skins, Belgian Economy Minister Fientje Moerman said yesterday.

The ban will go into effect on June 4 in Belgium.

The decision comes in the wake of a massive seal culling program launched by Canada on April 12. Hunters killed nearly a quarter of a million in 48 hours.

Canada contends that the seal population must be controlled before the seals eat all the fish in the Atlantic.

FRANCE

Service planned for airport victims

PARIS — A memorial service for the four persons who died in the partial collapse of a new terminal at Charles de Gaulle International Airport outside Paris will be held Wednesday, the company managing the airport said.

Three persons were injured when the roof of futuristic Terminal 2E, which had been opened to the public in mid-2003, collapsed early on May 23.

The architect of the terminal, Paul Andreu, said Friday he was at a loss to explain why the structure collapsed.

Weekly notes

Two Bulgarian climbers died last week while climbing Nepal’s 29,028-foot Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, the BTA news agency reported yesterday. Climber Mariana Maslarova, 43, was taking part in a Russian-Brazilian expedition. Another Bulgarian climber, Christo Christov, 26, was found dead near the summit. … Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wound up a congress of his Forza Italia party yesterday to roars of approval. “Silvio! Silvio!” and “Silvio, you are invincible,” his supporters chanted.

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