- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Moscow threatens Georgia mission

UNITED NATIONS | Russia’s dispute with Western powers over its neighbor Georgia came to a head Monday as Moscow threatened to veto a Western plan to extend the mandate of a U.N. mission in the former Soviet republic.

The council was scheduled to vote later Monday on a U.S.- and European-sponsored draft resolution that would extend for two weeks the mandate of a U.N. mission to the Georgian breakaway zone Abkhazia, which declared independence last year after Russia’s brief war with Georgia.

The U.N. mission in Georgia, known as UNOMIG, was set up in 1993 - after Abkhazia overthrew Tbilisi’s rule - to verify compliance with a cease-fire between Georgia and Abkhaz forces. If its mandate is not extended, the entire mission will cease to exist, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters.

“In our traditional frankness, I indicated to them that Russia will vote ‘no’ on this draft,” Mr. Churkin said after a closed-door council meeting.


Police beat protesters, journalists

TBILISI | Georgian police clashed with opposition activists in the capital Monday, arresting dozens and beating demonstrators, along with several journalists.

The clash was the latest violence to hit Georgia, as the opposition presses its more than 2-month-old campaign to force President Mikhail Saakashvili from office.

An Associated Press photographer saw truncheon-armed masked officers beating demonstrators who had gathered near the police headquarters. Several activists were severely beaten, along with several TV journalists and camera crews who said they had their tapes and video cameras confiscated.

Deputy Interior Minister Eka Zguladze apologized to the journalists, calling it “our mistake.”


Russians host regional summit

YEKATERINBURG | Russia played regional power broker Monday, hosting China and Central Asian nations for a summit that highlights the Kremlin’s efforts to maintain clout in former Soviet territory and raise its profile in Afghanistan.

Moscow is expected to use the meeting of leaders from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to try to cement the six-nation group as a counterbalance to the U.S. presence in strategic Central Asia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev opened the two-day meeting by saying the group would discuss the global financial crisis and the key issue it was created to address; namely, regional security.

“Our organization has been created quite recently, but it has scored quite serious progress,” he said.


Brown signs off on Iraq war probe

LONDON | Prime Minister Gordon Brown authorized a long-awaited inquiry into the Iraq war Monday, but defied requests from bereaved families and activists to hold sessions in public.

Mr. Brown told the House of Commons that an examination of mistakes made during and after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion will begin next month, but will take place behind closed doors.

Activists have repeatedly called for a public inquiry to scrutinize what they say are a range of errors made by Britain, the United States and other allies in prewar intelligence and planning for postwar reconstruction work.

Mr. Brown said a panel of appointed experts - not lawmakers - will conduct the inquiry, led by John Chilcott, a former senior civil servant who played a key role in the Northern Ireland peace process.


Former jailer moved to tears

PHNOM PENH | A man accused of running an infamous Khmer Rouge torture center broke down in tears at his trial Monday as he spoke of the imprisonment and execution of former comrades in the facility he commanded.

Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch (pronounced Doik), testified to Cambodia’s U.N.-assisted genocide tribunal that the prison’s own guards and interrogators were also among those executed during the regime’s brutal rule, in some cases for simple irregularities and mishaps in carrying out their duties.

He commanded Phnom Penh’s S-21 prison, where as many as 16,000 men, women and children were tortured before being sent to their deaths when the communist group held power from 1975 to 1979. About 1.7 million Cambodians died from forced labor, starvation, medical neglect and executions under the regime.

The 66-year-old displayed rare emotion during his testimony as he spoke of seeing fellow revolutionaries locked up in the cells of his prison.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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