- - Sunday, August 28, 2011


Breakaway region elects president

SUKHUMI — The vice president of the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia was preliminarily declared the winner of the presidential election over the weekend.

The Election Commission’s chairman Batal Tabagua told reporters that figures showed Alexander Ankvab with 55 percent of Friday’s vote.

The presidential election is the first in Abkhazia since Moscow recognized its independence in 2008. Russia is one of only a few countries that recognize the Georgian province, sandwiched geographically between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains and caught politically between Russia and Georgia.

Russian recognition followed the 2008 Russia-Georgian war, fought over another Georgian breakaway republic. Russia has about 5,000 soldiers and border guards stationed in Abkhazia, which Georgia calls occupation.

The vote was held three months after the death of President Sergei Bagapsh, who cemented Abkhazia’s pro-Kremlin course backed by lavish financial aid from Moscow.

Mr. Ankvab, 59, was running against two other seasoned politicians and veterans of the separatist war that Abkhazia waged against the Georgian government in the early 1990s that left hundreds dead and tens of thousands displaced. The former Communist official and ex-head of Abkhazia’s police has survived five assassination attempts, which he described as the result of disputes with local criminals.


Royal wedding renews in defunct monarchy

BERLIN — Prince Georg Friedrich Ferdinand of Prussia, great-great-grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II, married Princess Sophie of Isenburg over the weekend in an event that has rekindled German interest in the nation’s long-defunct royals.

The couple was married in a church in Potsdam, outside Berlin, the former seat of the prince’s family, which ruled much of Germany until the monarchy was abolished in 1918.

After Saturday’s ceremony, the couple traveled by horse-drawn carriage to Sanssouci Palace for a dinner and ball.

The event was broadcast live on local TV, although the couple is largely unknown. Both work as consultants in Berlin.

Germans view their own aristocrats skeptically, although many ardently follow the royal houses of their European neighbors.


Thieves steal replica of rhino horn from museum

LONDON — Thieves struck a British museum aiming to cart away rare rhino horns, but they took replicas by mistake.

The foiled heist at the Natural History Museum at Tring follows a string of rhino-horn thefts in Britain and continental Europe. The horns are revered in parts of Asia for their purported aphrodisiac and medicinal value and are often ground into powder.

The museum, located 30 miles northwest of London in the county of Hertfordshire, was closed Saturday while police investigated the early morning crime. Displays are being repaired and the museum reopened Sunday.

Museum officials say the replicas have no financial value. They estimate the real horns would have been worth about $400,000 in the illegal trade.

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