- The Washington Times - Monday, June 1, 2009

ITALY

Man denies affair of Berlusconi, teen

ROME | The ex-boyfriend of an 18-year-old woman at the heart of a scandal involving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has apologized for having fueled speculation about a presumed relationship between the two.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Sunday ran what it said was a letter from the ex-boyfriend, Gino Flaminio, in which he said there never could have been a sexual relationship between Mr. Berlusconi and Noemi Letizia “knowing Noemi and her values.”

Last week, the left-leaning daily La Repubblica quoted Mr. Flaminio as saying Mr. Berlusconi had invited Miss Letizia and several other young women to his Sardinian villa for a week over New Year’s.

The interview fueled speculation about a possible relationship between Miss Letizia and the prime minister, particularly after Mr. Berlusconi’s wife cited his presence at Miss Letizia’s 18th birthday party in an announcement a few weeks ago that she was divorcing the 72-year-old. Mr. Berlusconi denies the two had a relationship.

BRITAIN

Expense scandal prompts reform try

LONDON | Britain’s prime minister, facing a national uproar over lawmakers claiming lavish expenses, promised Sunday to pursue constitutional reforms including a proposal to take away legislators’ power to decide their own pay.

Gordon Brown said he was shocked by the recent revelations that scores of legislators from all three main political parties had filed claims for expenses from tax advice to swimming pools.

He said the government was considering reforms that would mean lawmakers no longer set the rules about their salaries and expenses.

The scandal has rocked all three parties, and at least 12 lawmakers have said they would stand down in next year’s elections.

GEORGIA

Drills with Ukraine simulate suicide strike

VAZIANI | Georgian and Ukrainian troops neutralized simulated suicide bombers and a mock mob on a wind-swept hilltop military base near the Georgian capital Sunday as part of monthlong military exercises, which have angered Russia.

NATO is training soldiers from the two West-leaning former Soviet states, along with two other aspiring NATO members, at the Vaziani military base not far from the separatist South Ossetia province, where war between Russia and Georgia erupted nine months ago.

Russia opposes NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine, and tension over Georgia’s NATO aspirations was a catalyst for the war last summer. After the conflict, Russia recognized South Ossetia’s claim of independence and stationed thousands of troops there, adding to strains in Russia’s relations with the West.

At least 300 soldiers have been taking part in the military exercises.

RUSSIA

Riot police arrest opposition protesters

MOSCOW | Russian riot police detained 33 opposition demonstrators Sunday as they attempted to stage a protest demanding Prime Minister Vladimir Putin resign for his handling of the economic crisis.

Russia is entering the worst recession in at least a decade and unemployment has soared to 7.7 million, but public expressions of discontent are still rare.

Protesters carrying banners with slogans saying “Putin resign” and “Stop unemployment” were detained by riot police as they lit red flares and walked onto one of central Moscow’s busiest avenues, a Reuters news agency reporter said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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