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17 August, 2011


At least 10 people were killed in the Pakistani city of Karachi in gunfire and grenade attacks.

­Reports suggest that a former parliament member for the ruling Pakistan People’s Party was among those killed. Police suspects local criminal gangs affiliated with the main political parties were behind the attacks. Karachi has been torn by ethnic and political violence since 1995.


Gaddafi reportedly seriously ill as rebels advance on capital

­Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is "gravely ill," according to unnamed sources quoted by the Asharq al-Awasat pan-Arab newspaper. The sources did not provide further details on his medical condition. The rebel Transitional National Council said medical reports had confirmed Gaddafi had a serious illness. The strongman’s worsening health reportedly prompted him to send the head of his office to Mali and to Tunisia to meet French and British representatives in a bid to secure his and his family's safety. Meanwhile, rebels claim to be advancing on the Libyan capital Tripoli. Despite the NATO-led mission to protect civilians and enforce a no-fly zone over the country, the civil war between rebels and forces loyal to Gaddafi continues to rage more than six months after the outbreak of violence.


Mubarak advises Syrian president to resign

­Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for "crimes perpetrated by the Syrian regime against their own people," Egypt's Al-Gomhuria daily reported on Wednesday. Mubarak, who is currently on a trial in Egypt on charges of abuse of office, corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during February's uprising, said he would "recommend [to Assad] to resign, as it is desired by his people." The former Egyptian leader, 83, who was overthrown in a popular uprising in February, faces the death penalty if convicted of ordering troops to fire on protesters.


Shark cripples swimmer in Russian Pacific

­A man attacked by a shark on the Pacific coast of the Primorye region has been hospitalized with serious injuries, the Interfax news agency reported. The shark bit off both of his hands and injured other parts of his body. It is not yet clear to which species the shark belonged. The attack occurred some 50 meters from the shore in Telyakovsky Bay. A witness helped the victim get out of the water and called rescuers. After the incident, an alarm signal was sent to all bays in the Khasan district to warn thousands of bathers  and swimmers. A dozen species of shark can reportedly be encountered in the Russian part of the Sea of Japan, including man-eaters like the mako and great white. However, they are very rare off the coast of Primorye because they live mainly in tropica; and subtropical areas.


Over 360 killed in Syria uprisings during first half of Ramadan

­Syrian special forces have killed more than 360 people during the first half of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, Syrian media sources reported on Wednesday, citing combined data from local rights organizations. The Syrian authorities intensified their crackdown on protesters with the beginning of Ramadan. The Mediterranean port city of Latakia saw 36 people, including children, killed by Syrian forces over the past four days, while at least 100 were wounded. Over 2,000 civilians are thought to have been killed since protests began in the southern city of Deraa in mid-March. According to government data, over 500 soldiers and security officers have been killed.


­Top Russian MP disowns anti-corruption blogger lawsuit

T­he vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma, Oleg Morozov, has denounced a complaint filed under his name against anti-corruption campaigner Alexey Navalny as a fake. A Moscow court recently received a letter of complaint signed by Morozov which accused Navalny of damaging the official’s reputation in a blog post.  A date for the preliminary hearing has been set. However, according to Morozov, he has not sought ten million rubles in compensation from Navalny, going on to claim his signature on the appeal has been forged. “This fake was probably prepared by Navalny himself,” Morozov said.


"We won't apologize to Turkey over Gaza flotilla raid" - Israel

­Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has informed US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Israel will not apologize for the 2010 Gaza flotilla raid and the killing of nine activists, according to media reports on Wednesday.  The development is likely to dash hopes for the swift recovery of Turkish-Israeli relations. In a telephone conversation with Clinton late Tuesday, Netanyahu said Israel does not intend to restore ties with Turkey, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported. The decision comes ahead of the long-awaited publication of the findings of a UN inquiry into the raid on the flotilla ship, the Mavi Marmara, where the deaths occurred. Israel was reported to have no objection to the release of the findings which it said would vindicate the blockade on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. The report is to be presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday.


Iran nuke plant will launch “with 100% safety” - Lavrov

­The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Iran will be commissioned in the very near future, and everything is being done to ensure that it operates with 100% safety, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday. "We have discussed the final preparations for the energy launch. It is due in the very near future. The date is being agreed between the two countries' nuclear authorities," Lavrov said after talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Moscow.


Putin: Aerospace a Russian strategic priority

Russia regards its air and space industry as a strategic priority, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday during a visit to the MAKS aviation show near Moscow. “The state has been and will continue to support the air and space complex. It is absolutely a strategic priority for us,” Putin said. According to the PM, Russia spent more than 270 billion rubles in 2009-2011 on the development of the aviation industry. And despite the period of economic crisis, Putin pointed out, Russia managed to promote its key space exploration projects, as well as projects related to civil and military aviation


Chavez “never healthier” after second round of chemo

­Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez says he has never felt healthier after undergoing a second round of chemotherapy in Cuba. "There has been no metastasis," he added, saying his cancer "had not been detected anywhere else in [his] body." Chavez took brief questions from reporters outside the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, but gave no details about the type of cancer he has. Chavez, 57, underwent an operation June 20 in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumor in his pelvic area. After a brief return to Caracas, he traveled back to Havana on July 16 for a week of chemotherapy treatment.


Rocket carrying eight satellites launched from Russian Urals

­The Russian-Ukrainian carrier Dnepr took off from a launch pad in Russia’s Orenburg region on Wednesday with eight satellites on board. It aims to place two Ukrainian devices in orbit, along with two Nigerian, two American, one Turkish and one Italian satellite. The Dnepr rocket launch has been postponed several times. Its manufacturers claim this type of carrier is also the most powerful intercontinental missile currently in use.


Russian arms exporter loses $4 billion over Libya conflict

­Russia's state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport has lost a total of $4 billion over the cancellation of contracts with Libya, Anatoly Isaikin, the company’s executive officer, told Russian media on Wednesday. The figure encompasses loss of opportunity and foregone profits, he added. Isaikin stressed that in accordance with international agreements, Russia is not currently supplying any arms to Libya.


Police defuse huge car bomb in southern Russia

­Police in south Russia's Republic of Dagestan defused a powerful car bomb on Wednesday, a National Anti-terrorist Committee spokesman told RIA Novosti. The explosive device, which was packed with nails and ball-bearings and had the strength of 100 kg of TNT, was placed in a car outside a shopping mall in the town of Khasavyurt. A car bomb that went off next to a café in Khasavyurt in January killed three people. Around half of all terrorist attacks in Russia last year took place in Dagestan, which borders war-torn Chechnya.


Putin should take the stand at Tymoshenko trial – Ukraine's ex-president

­The former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko, who on Wednesday testified in the case of his former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, wants Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and the head of Russian gas giant Gazprom, Alexey Miller, to provide testimony as well. “I appeal to the court to consider the necessity of questioning Putin and Miller,” Yushchenko said. “We cannot find out the truth in this case without involving negotiators from the Russian side,” he added. Yulia Tymoshenko is accused of abusing her power while in office. In 2009, she signed a gas delivery deal with Russia on conditions which were allegedly unfavorable to Ukraine.


Charge toll in London riots reaches 1,000

­One thousand people have now been charged in connection with the violence and disorder that rocked the British capital between 6th and 10th August, police officials have revealed. Acting commissioner Tim Godwin says while the milestone is significant, the investigation is ongoing. Godwin issued a statement on Wednesday in which he urged people to turn in anyone involved in the disorder. UK police have already arrested more than 3,000 people across the country.


Russia vouches for safety of Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant

­Russian and Iranian nuclear experts are working hard to guarantee the safety of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is to be launched in the nearest future, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi in Moscow on Wednesday. "Everything is being done now to ensure this plant will be one hundred percent safe and reliable. The last technical details are being finalized with special care," Lavrov said. The ceremony to mark the launching of the plant is expected to take place in late August.


Hezbollah indicted in Hariri’s 2005 death

­A special court in Beirut investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has published a 47-page indictment against four members of the Shiite militia, Hezbollah, for alleged involvement in the deadly truck bombing. Wednesday’s publication follows an announcement by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon last week stating that Lebanese authorities had been unable to arrest the four suspects or serve them with indictments. They are accused of detonating the truck bomb that killed Hariri and 21 others on February 14, 2005. Hezbollah has denied involvement and said it will never hand over the suspects.


­Russia continues shipping arms to Syria - official

The Russian arms export agency Rosoboronexport has continued to deliver arms to Syria in accordance with existing arms supply contracts, the head of the agency, Anatoly Isaikin, has said. “Since no sanctions have been announced, since there have been no directions or orders from the government, we must fulfill our contractual obligations, which we are doing,” the official said. In May, the EU slapped a weapons embargo on Syria amidst the on-going crackdown on anti-government protests there. However, the United Nations has yet to approve any resolution on Syria.


Prosecution seeks to expedite Mladic trial

­UN prosecutors trying the Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic said on Wednesday they want a swift start to the Srebrenica case before moving on to other charges, fearing the defendant’s health is too fragile for a lengthy, all-encompassing court appearance. They want to charge Mladic with genocide for the 1995 killing of more than 8,000 Bosnians in Srebrenica in the first instance. He also faces charges linked to the four-year Sarajevo siege and for holding UN peacekeepers hostage. He was arrested in Serbia in May after 16 years on the run. Mladic refused to plead at his arraignment. A not-guilty plea was entered by the court.


­Ukraine’s ex-president Yushchenko takes the stand against Tymoshenko

Viktor Yushchenko, the former president of Ukraine, began giving evidence on Wednesday in the trial of his former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko has been accused of abusing her power while in office by signing a 2009 gas delivery deal with Russia on conditions which are allegedly unfavorable to Ukraine. Yushchenko has confirmed that the negotiations concerning the deal were very intense, but denied Tymoshenko’s claim that he recalled Ukrainian negotiators from Moscow in December 2008, as the sides were just about to agree on a lower price. “I did not recall anyone, I didn’t have the authority,” he said. Tymoshenko earlier said that it was Yushchenko’s decision to recall the delegation which had brought about the gas crisis in Ukraine.


­Polish official fired for betraying Belarusian rights activist

The Polish Prosecutor General’s Office has fired two officials for handing over information about the bank accounts of a Belarusian opposition activist to Minsk.  The information disclosed by the officials was ultimately used to justify the activist’s arrest. In early August, it was reported that Belarusian rights activist Ales Beliatsky was arrested on charges of tax evasion after Belarusian law enforcement received data about bank accounts he held in Poland and Lithuania. Lithuania has apologized to Beliatsky’s family for the role it played in his arrest. Poland went even further, and dismissed the two officials responsible for revealing his account information. Poland’s Prosecutor General, Andrzej Seremet, has also voiced his regret over the incident.


Ukraine’s ex-president Yushchenko to testify at Tymoshenko trial

­Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko arrived at court on Wednesday morning to testify in the trial of his former prime minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, Interfax reports. Tymoshenko is on trial on abuse of office charges in connection with a 2009 gas deal she signed with Russia while she was premier of the former Soviet republic. She faces 10 years in prison if found guilty. Currently Ukraine's leading opposition figure, Tymoshenko has denied all the charges against her, saying they are politically motivated.


­PM Putin to visit MAKS air show near Moscow

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is expected to visit the 10th MAKS international air show near Moscow on Wednesday, the governmental press service reported. A number of agreements and commercial contracts are to be signed in the PM’s presence. Putin is going to address the air show's participants and guests, as well as tour an exhibition organized by Russian and foreign aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers.


­Iran welcomes Russian nuke transparency plan

Tehran welcomes Moscow's proposal on solving the Iranian nuclear problem, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a statement issued after a meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev on Tuesday. "Iran has positively received Russia's idea on solving [the nuclear problem] step by step and is prepared to formulate its proposals on cooperation in this field," Ahmadinejad said. While in Washington on July 12, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia is against isolating Iran and believes that the Iranian nuclear problem can be settled only through cooperation, and by applying a step-by-step approach. "We deem it possible, in response to each concrete, non-declarative step taken by Iran, to take a reciprocal step, to freeze and cut the volume of sanctions as progress continues," he said.


Landslides kill 30 in India as heavy rains continue

­Torrential rains have killed 29 people in northern and eastern India, local media said on Wednesday. Twelve people died on Tuesday in Uttar Pradesh, five in Meghalaya, and four each in West Bengal, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. In Meghalaya's Garo Hills district, five people were buried alive when their houses collapsed amid landslides triggered by heavy rains, the paper said. Another four people suffered a similar fate in Himachal Pradesh, when a house collapsed in the Shillai area.


Poland's largest rail carrier hit by strike

­One of Poland's largest rail carriers, Przewozy Regionalne, was hit by a 24-hour strike on Wednesday, RIA Novosti reports, quoting Poland’s agencies.  The train operator's trade unions are demanding wage increases and changes in the labor management scheme. Should their demands not be fulfilled, another strike could be called on August 24. A total of 2,700 trains will be idle in Poland during the strike, which will last until Thursday morning.


At least 20 missing in Nepal boat accident

­At least 20 people are missing after an overcrowded boat sank in a rain-swollen river in southern Nepal, officials reported Wednesday. The exact number of missing is still unknown. The boat was carrying at least 35 people and only a dozen have been accounted for. The boat capsized late Tuesday on the Kamala river, which is located 400 kilometers southeast of the Katmandu. Repors suggest the boat was very old and the river was flooded by the monsoon rains. The search will continue into Wednesday.


Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has vowed to return to his country.

­Saleh repeated his pledge two months after leaving for Saudi Arabia to be treated for injuries he sustained in an assault on his palace compound. Yemen has been torn by six months of mass street protests calling for Saleh to be ousted, and there are fears that his return might spark a civil war. The US has repeatedly urged Saleh to step down over concerns that a renewed conflict could encourage the Yemen-based branch of Al Qaeda.


Police order the release of Indian anti-corruption activist

­Police have ordered the release of India's leading anti-corruption campaigner from jail on Tuesday, Reuters reported.  The arrest of 73-year-old Anna Hazare early on Tuesday sparked outrage from opposition parties and spontaneous protests – from candle-light vigils to the burning of effigies of government figures – in cities across India. Police also released about 1,500 of Hazare's followers who had been detained in Delhi for defying a police order not to protest. Hazare's demand for tougher anti-corruption laws has inspired Indians who are fed up with seemingly endless scandals exposing bribery and favoritism that paralyze efforts to address poverty and speed development.
A close aide who was also arrested told reporters that Hazare was refusing to leave jail until he obtained government permission to continue his fast in a park in the capital.