- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 14, 2005

RUSSIA

U.S., Britain deny spying by NGOs

MOSCOW — Britain and the United States have denied Russian claims that British and American spies were using Western charities and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to undermine Russian influence in the former Soviet Union.

They said Friday they hoped new laws proposed by Moscow’s spy chief would not interfere with the NGOs’ humanitarian work.

Federal Security Service (FSB) head Nikolai Patrushev, speaking to parliament deputies Thursday, accused British, U.S. and other foreign secret services of trying to foment revolution in the former Soviet Union using charities, and the Peace Corps, as cover. He also said Saudi and Kuwaiti NGOs were engaged in intelligence work.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called Mr. Patrushev’s charges “completely false. Most of them are ridiculous.”

BULGARIA

U.S. to be offered 3 military bases

SOFIA — Bulgaria said yesterday it will provide three military bases for use by U.S. forces. An American team is expected in Bulgaria this week to discuss the bases, senior military officials have said.

Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov said three bases will be offered to the Americans, but “it remains to be determined which bases are to be chosen,” according to the state news agency, BTA.

ITALY

Airport baggage thefts investigated

ROME — Italian police have announced they uncovered a gang of criminal baggage handlers operating at Milan’s Malpensa airport and were investigating nearly 100 suspects.

Among the goods stolen were television sets, video cameras, mobile phones, DVDs, sunglasses, bags and perfume. Police arrested 10 persons and are investigating another 82. Some of those involved are believed to have been smuggling marijuana and cocaine, police said. About 350 police officers took part in the operation, begun in 2003 under the code name “Magpie.”

Cameras were installed in one baggage area after complaints from freighting companies.

Weekly notes …

Germany’s lower house of parliament backed the EU Constitution by an overwhelming majority last week in a move it hoped would persuade French voters to approve the treaty in a May 27 referendum. The constitution received 569 votes in favor in the Bundestag, with 23 votes against and two abstentions. … The lure of seafood may explain why some human beings first left Africa, according to a genetic analysis published Friday, the London Daily Telegraph reports. The international study is based on DNA evidence that early humans spread across the Red Sea from the Horn of Africa, along the coast of the Indian Ocean toward the Pacific over a few thousand years. It suggests the first wave probably included fewer than 600 women, the mothers of all non-Africans alive today, whose ancestors split off from the rest near the Persian Gulf.

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