- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2010

UKRAINE

Yanukovych backer named prime minister

KIEV | Ukrainian lawmakers formed a new majority coalition around President Viktor Yanukovych on Thursday, allowing him to consolidate power by quickly approving his choices for a new prime minister and Cabinet.

Mykola Azarov, who served as Mr. Yanukovych’s campaign strategist in this year’s presidential elections, was chosen as prime minister. The move ends the long-running rivalry between head of state - Mr. Yanukovych - and its head of government, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Mr. Yanukovych beat in the presidential race.

Mr. Azarov now leads the new majority coalition in parliament, dubbed the “Reforms and Order” coalition. It includes Mr. Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, the Communists, the party led by parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, four independents and a dozen defectors from other parties.

Mrs. Tymoshenko, an avid critic of Mr. Yanukovych, was ousted March 3 in a no-confidence vote after her Orange coalition fell.

GAZA STRIP

Hamas frees British journalist

GAZA CITY | Gaza’s Hamas rulers on Thursday released a British journalist they had held for a month amid allegations that he endangered the Palestinian territory’s security.

Paul Martin said he was arrested because of his work as a journalist and called his release, with the help of the British and South African governments, a “great victory for the freedom of the media.” He said he “has gone through a lot” in the past month, but did not elaborate.

Mr. Martin, a freelance journalist who has produced reports for the British Broadcasting Corp., the Times of London and The Washington Times, was the first foreigner to have been seized since Hamas overran Gaza in 2007.

BRITAIN

Airline employee faces bomb charge

LONDON | A British Airways computer expert is in court charged with plotting suicide bombings - including one he purportedly planned to carry out himself.

Prosecutor Colin Gibbs said Bangladesh-born Rajib Karim deliberately sought a job with the airline in order to further an unspecified terrorist conspiracy. He said the 30-year-old plotted with unidentified contacts in his home country, Pakistan, and Yemen over the past four years.

Mr. Karim is also charged with collecting money and sending it to terrorist associates overseas. Few other details about the purported plot were made public during the brief procedural hearing Thursday.

MEXICO

Slim becomes world’s richest

MEXICO CITY | Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim is the first man from a developing nation to become the world’s richest person - a shift that underlines the loosening of America and Europe’s stranglehold on the top spots in the billionaires club.

With a recovery in the value of his cell-phone holdings pushing his estimated fortune to $53.5 billion, Mr. Slim jumped past Microsoft founder Bill Gates and investor Warren Buffett when Forbes magazine released its 2010 list of the world’s wealthiest on Wednesday.

The rise of Mr. Slim, the 70-year-old son of an immigrant shopkeeper, is just a part of the emergence of billionaires in developing countries. Forbes reporter Keren Blankfeld noted this year’s top 10 richest also include two billionaires from India and one from Brazil.

The list was still dominated by American billionaires, whose number rose by more than 40 to 403. That is more than six times that of second-place China with 64 billionaires.

BRITAIN

Pink Floyd wins battle with EMI

LONDON | British rock band Pink Floyd won its court battle with EMI on Thursday with a ruling that prevents the record company from selling single downloads on the Internet from the group’s concept albums.

The ruling at London’s High Court is the latest blow to EMI, the smallest of the four major record companies, which is seeking new funds to avoid breaching debt covenants.

Pink Floyd’s back catalog at EMI has been outsold only by that of the Beatles. The band, whose albums include “The Dark Side of the Moon” and “The Wall,” went to court to challenge EMI’s right to “unbundle” their records and sell individual tracks online.

SWEDEN

Genocide vote angers Turkey

STOCKHOLM | Sweden’s parliament narrowly approved a resolution Thursday recognizing the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in Turkey as genocide, prompting the Turkish government to recall its ambassador in protest.

The measure passed with a one-vote margin in a surprise decision that came a week after a U.S. congressional committee approved a similar resolution.

Sweden’s governing center-right coalition opposed the measure, but it passed in a 131-130 vote because a handful of center-right lawmakers broke party lines. Eighty-eight lawmakers were absent in the 349-seat assembly.

Turkey recalled its ambassador to Sweden immediately after the vote, and the Anatolia news agency reported that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled a visit to Sweden set for March 17.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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