- - Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Putin killed democracy, opposition leader says

STRASBOURG, France | Prime Minister Vladimir Putin killed democracy in Russia and replaced it with a mafia state, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov charged on Wednesday.

Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister of Russia, compared Mr. Putin to a younger version of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president ousted last week after three decades in power.

Putin looks like a young Mubarak. He believes that his future will be better than Mubarak’s future. I don’t think so,” said Mr. Nemtsov, who was speaking at a press conference at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.

Putin killed the democratic state in Russia. He built a corrupted mafia state, but he killed the democratic state,” added Mr. Nemtsov, who served as deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin.


Shipping magnate: Kill the pirates

OSLO | A Norwegian shipping magnate has raised a storm by suggesting that pirates captured off the Horn of Africa should be sunk with their boats or executed on the spot.

In a newspaper Op-Ed column, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, founder of the Stolt-Nielsen shipping group, argued that modern navies should follow Roman military commander Pompey’s gloves-off approach to pirates.

“Not arrest them and say, ‘Naughty, naughty, shame on you,’ and release them again, but sink their boats with all hands,” he wrote.

Jacqueline Smith, president of the Norwegian Seafarers Union, on Wednesday said killing pirates could prompt revenge against the hostages.


Pro-Berlusconi paper gets bullet

MILAN | A newspaper close to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday it received an envelope containing a bullet and a leaflet bearing the symbol of a 1970s left-wing guerrilla group.

The daily Il Giornale, owned by Mr. Berlusconi’s brother, said on its website the leaflet called the conservative prime minister a “loser” and also criticized a senior member of the opposition Democratic Party, Massimo d’Alema.

The leaflet had a five-pointed star, the symbol of the Red Brigades, which carried out campaign of assassinations and kidnappings in the 1970s. It was signed by a group calling itself the “BR Galesi unit for the construction of an anti-imperialist fighting front.”

BR is the acronym for Red Brigades in Italian.

Police in Milan were investigating the contents of the letter, the paper said.

A judge on Tuesday ordered Mr. Berlusconi to stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an under-age girl and abuse of power.


Bird-watchers cooing over rare turtledove

LONDON | Hundreds of British bird-watchers have poured into a quiet village and lined its streets to catch a glimpse of a rare Oriental turtledove.

Sky News says that Steve Akers first saw the rare bird through his kitchen window. He is now charging bird-watchers $8 apiece to enter his house for a chance to see the bird.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds confirmed that the dove was an Oriental turtledove. A spokesman, Grahame Madge, said Wednesday it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for British enthusiasts to see the bird.

He says that it likely took a wrong turn while it was migrating from Siberia to its wintering ground in the Indian subcontinent.

Mr. Akers said he will donate the entry fees to bird charities.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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