- - Sunday, April 15, 2012

MOSCOW — A Russian politician on a hunger strike to protest alleged fraud in a recent mayoral race says he may take up an offer to travel to Moscow to review evidence of vote rigging, but only if doctors rule him fit enough.

Oleg Shein, who ran for mayor in the southern city of Astrakhan on March 4, was quoted by Russian news agencies Sunday as saying he could take up the offer from Central Election Commission chief Vladimir E. Churov to watch videos allegedly containing evidence of fraud.

Mr. Churov made the offer Thursday, on the condition Mr. Shein suspend his hunger strike. Mr. Shein - who appears very frail in videos on his blog - has refused food for a month in protest over what he calls rampant fraud in favor of a Kremlin-backed candidate that denied him rightful victory. He said on his blog Sunday that doctors had given him a glucose injection to compensate for his loss of body sugar.

In an expression of support, thousands of protesters took to Astrakhan’s streets over the weekend. Shouting slogans such as “Astrakhan will be free,” the protesters marched for about four hours through the city, stopping at a park, a square and Mr. Shein’s headquarters, under the eye of phalanxes of police.

Mr. Shein’s struggle has become a rallying call for Russia’s opposition forces struggling to maintain momentum in the face of Vladimir Putin’s victory in last month’s presidential election.


Report: Lords member offers Obama bounty

LONDON — Britain’s Labor Party on Sunday suspended peer Nazir Ahmed over reports that he offered a 10 million pound bounty ($15.9 million) for the capture of President Obama.

Lord Ahmed also offered a similar incentive for the capture of former President George W. Bush in response to a U.S. reward for the capture of Kashmir terror suspect Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, according to Pakistan’s Express Tribune newspaper.

“We have suspended Lord Ahmed pending investigation,” a Labor spokeswoman said. “If these comments are accurate, we utterly condemn these remarks which are totally unacceptable.”

Lord Ahmed, who was appointed to the House of Lords in 1998, apparently made the offer during a Friday speech in Haripur, Pakistan, in which he called the Saeed reward “an insult to all Muslims,” according to the Express Tribune.

“If the U.S. can announce a reward of $10 million for the capture of Hafiz Saeed, I can announce a bounty of 10 million on President Obama and his predecessor George Bush,” he reportedly said.


EU hails dissidents’ release, calls for more

BRUSSELS — European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton welcomed Sunday the release of two opposition figures in Belarus and urged the regime of Alexander Lukashenko to free all remaining political prisoners.

“I welcome the news that former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, as well as his main campaign aide, Dmitry Bondarenko, are now free and will be able to rejoin their families and friends,” Ms. Ashton said in a statement.

“I call on the authorities of Belarus to release unconditionally now also all other remaining political prisoners.”

The two men returned home in triumph to Minsk on Sunday.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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