Jailed Russian Tycoon

Begins Hunger Strike

MOSCOW -- The jailed Russian oil billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky lashed out at the Kremlin and announced a hunger strike to support his business partner, who was moved to an isolation cell last week.

In a statement posted Tuesday on a pro-Khodorkovsky Web site and confirmed by his attorney, the former oil magnate claimed the Kremlin was behind decisions by prison authorities to transfer his colleague, Platon Lebedev, to isolation and move Khodorkovsky to a more crowded cell.

The statement said Lebedev was seriously ill and was moved on Aug. 19 to a 32-square-foot cell, according to Khodorkovsky's attorney, Anton Drel. "It is obvious that they threw my friend into the isolation cell to take revenge against me, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for my articles and interviews," it said.


* INNSBRUCK, Austria -- Rescue workers piled sandbags to hold back surging floodwaters and evacuated hundreds of people from Alpine valleys as heavy rains and landslides battered central and southern Europe.

At least 26 people have died in storm- or flood-related accidents in the past week; most drowned, were crushed by debris or collapsed buildings or struck by lightning. Two Swiss firefighters were killed Monday in a landslide.


* ZINDER, Niger -- U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan visited emaciated children at a hospital in one of the most affected areas of Niger and heard villagers' pleas for help, seeking to draw attention to 5 million northwest Africans left short of food after their crops were ravaged by drought and locusts.

Niger's president, Mamadou Tandja, who has accused U.N. officials, aid groups and opposition parties of exaggerating the country's problems for political and economic gain, welcomed Annan at the airport in the eastern city of Zinder.


* MANILA -- Gloria Macapagal Arroyo moved to tighten her grip on the Philippine presidency, using her overwhelming majority in Congress to frustrate opposition attempts to impeach her over allegations of wrongdoing.

Lawmakers in a committee dominated by Arroyo loyalists heard arguments for three hours about which of three impeachment complaints should be taken up. The opposition is arguing that all three complaints should be consolidated, but majority lawmakers are pushing for only the initial, weaker case to be considered. A vote on the issue is expected this week.

The Middle East

* AMMAN, Jordan -- The insurgent group al Qaeda in Iraq asserted responsibility for a rocket attack last week that barely missed U.S. warships docked in the Jordanian port of Aqaba. The Internet statement was signed Abu Maysara al-Iraqi, the spokesman for the group, which is headed by Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian.

-- From News Services