Around The World

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Russia Says Spy Drone Violated U.N. Agreement

Russia hit back at Georgia on Tuesday over the shooting down of a spy drone Sunday, saying the unmanned Georgian flight over the breakaway region of Abkhazia breached U.N. cease-fire agreements.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said the drone had been shot down by separatist forces in Abkhazia. The Russian air force denied Georgian claims that a Russian fighter had downed the craft.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Monday clashed publicly with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the incident, just two weeks after NATO promised the small Caucasus state it would one day become a member of the military alliance.

Russia, opposed to NATO expansion nearer to its borders, is forging closer ties with Georgia's two breakaway regions.


Soyuz Crew Was at Risk

The crew of the Soyuz space capsule that landed hundreds of miles off target in Kazakhstan was in serious danger during the descent, a Russian news agency reported Tuesday.

Interfax quoted an unidentified Russian space official as saying the capsule entered Earth's atmosphere Saturday with the hatch first instead of its heat shield leading the way. As a result, the hatch sustained significant damage.

The official said a valve that equalizes pressure in the TMA-11 capsule with the outside was also damaged. In addition, the capsule's antenna burned up, meaning the crew could not communicate properly with Russian Mission Control, the official said.

The Soyuz crew included American astronaut Peggy Whitson; South Korea's first astronaut, Yi So-yeon; and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko.


Olympic Torch Guarded

The Olympic torch was paraded through a heavily guarded stadium in Jakarta on Tuesday after police stopped about 100 anti-China protesters from disrupting the latest leg of the torch's fraught journey around the world.

Indonesian Olympic gold medalist Taufik Hidayat lit a caldron before a cheering crowd as about 2,500 policemen and 1,000 military troops guarded the relay, which has been a magnet for anti-China protests in Europe and the Americas after Beijing's crackdown last month on protests in Tibet.

Earlier in the day, there was a 30-minute standoff between police and protesters outside the stadium.

On Tuesday, China canceled media access to the departure of a second torch from Everest North Base Camp before a bid to take it to the top of the world's highest mountain.

Belarus Jails Opposition Activist

Andrei Kim, one of two Belarusan detainees considered political prisoners by Western governments, was sentenced to 1 1/2 years in jail for his actions at a January protest. Kim was convicted of attacking a policeman at a protest by small entrepreneurs denounced by President Alexander Lukashenko, whom Western countries have accused of crushing fundamental rights.

From News Services

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