Hundreds of protesters have gathered in central Moscow to support 12 opposition supporters who were arrested after a rally at Bolotnaya Square on May 6, which resulted in violence. Opposition and human rights groups consider the arrests illegal and are demanding those arrested be released. The latest rally coincides with an announcement by Russia’s investigative committee that two more activists have been detained over the May 6 clashes in Moscow.
Twitter back to normal after technical difficulties
The social network Twitter has resumed its service after being down for users around the world for more than an hour due to technical difficulties. Twitter gave no information on the possible cause of the problem. The last time Twitter experienced a similar problem was on June 21. Messaging service Google Talk was also down this morning, but the issue has since been resolved.
Key US Congress committee votes to lift Jackson-Vanik
A House panel has voted to lift Cold War-era restrictions on trade relations with Russia, with hopes that both chambers of US Сongress will approve the measure as early as next week. After that, the bill will still need to be signed by President Obama. US officials said, however, that the so-called ‘Magnitsky bill’ should be tied to the latest legislation, citing “problems in international relations and human rights issues” as the cause. The ‘Magnitsky bill’, which was passed a month ago, imposes travel and economic sanctions on Russian officials over the 2009 death of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky during his pre-trial detention.
Five remain trapped in coalmine in China
Fifty-three people have been rescued but five miners still remain trapped in a coalmine after a tunnel collapsed twice in south-west China, Xinhua news agency reports. The initial collapse occurred on Wednesday evening, trapping five miners. The second took place while 53 rescuers were trying to reach those trapped. The five miners have so far spent 32 hours underground. An investigation into the cause of the accidents has been launched.
Cuba ready to ‘sit down with US’ - Raul Castro
Cuban President Raul Castro said on Thursday that his government is willing to mend fences with the US. “Any day they want, the table is set,” Castro said at a Revolution Day ceremony marking the 59th anniversary of a failed uprising against the Moncada military barracks. The proposal has already been offered “through diplomatic channels,” he said. “If they want to talk, we will talk,” AP quoted Castro as saying. He stressed, however, that the conversation should be between equals. “We are nobody's colony, nobody's puppet,” he added.
Ban Ki-moon in Srebrenica, says UN not protecting Syrian civilians
The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the UN was failing in its duty to protect Syria's civilians. He was paying a landmark visit to Srebrenica, where blue helmet peacekeepers failed to prevent the killing of hundreds of Bosnian Muslims in 1995. “We have to do all to protect civilians and to stop bloodshed particularly in Syria now, when we have learned the message of Srebrenica,” Ban said, as cited by AFP. “I do not want to see any of my successors after 20 years visiting Syria apologizing for what we could have done now to protect the civilians in Syria which we are not doing,” the UN chief said.
Tunisia police use tear gas against protesters in town of revolution
Tunisian police used tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse protesters on Thursday in the town where the country's revolution started. Dozens of Sidi Bouzid residents attacked provincial government headquarters protesting against their living conditions. Demonstrators shouted “Ben Ali’s police are back,” in reference to the leader ousted last year by a popular revolt, AFP said. The uprising against Zine El Abidine Ben Ali started a wave of political unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. The Arab Spring was sparked by a street vendor in Sidi Bouzid, Mohamed Bouazizi, who immolated himself in protest over living conditions.
Russian prosecutors finalize indictment in Domodedovo bombing
The indictment in the Domodedovo Airport bombing case has been finalized and the materials sent to court, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has said. Islam and Ilez Yandiyev, Akhmed Yevloyev and Bashir Khamkhoyev were charged with several crimes, including terrorism, murder and mass murder, and banditry, Interfax reports. The prosecutors assume that the bomb was detonated by Magomed Yevloyev, a member of Aslan Byutukayev’s Riyad as-Salihin gang, a part of the criminal community set up by Doku Umarov, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office said on Thursday. The suicide bombing in the Moscow airport arrivals hall on January 24, 2011, killed 37 people and wounded 173 others.
'Nazi war criminal' trial postponed
The trial of Laszlo Csatary, the 97-year-old alleged Nazi war criminal, in Hungary, has been postponed for a week. No reasons were given. Csatary allegedly helped to run the Jewish ghetto in Kosice, in present-day Slovakia, between 1941 and 1944, and tops the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Most-Wanted list. He was already convicted in absentia in Czechoslovakia in 1948, and later moved between countries where his identity was unknown, until finally being arrested earlier this month in Budapest.
China raises Beijing storm's death toll to 77 from 37
Chinese authorities have raised Beijing storm's death toll to 77 from 37 as the public questioned the days-old tally. The Beijing city government said 77 bodies had been found in the city as of Thursday, AP reports. Five of them were local officials who died while helping disaster relief and rescue efforts, the government says. No new death toll figures had been issued since Sunday, the day after Beijing saw the biggest downpour in 61 years. The public’s questioning of the death toll figures reflected mistrust of the government's handling of the disaster.
Syrian opposition groups attempting to unite in Qatar
Syrian opposition factions are gathering in Qatar in a new attempt to find agreement on leadership for a transitional administration. Thursday's planned meeting in Doha marks the most comprehensive bid to show a credible alternative to President Bashar al-Assad, AP reports. The foreign-based Syrian National Council has been unable so far to unite dozens of rebel factions. Brig. Gen. Manaf Tlass, who defected from the Syrian regime, is considered one of the potential leaders for a transitional team. Earlier this week, he urged all opposition groups to unite.
Chinese prosecutors charge politician Bo's wife with murder
Prosecutors have charged the wife of ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai and a family aide with the murder of a British businessman. The recently issued indictment said Bo's wife, Gu Kailai, had a falling out with Briton Neil Heywood and worried that it would threaten her and their son’s safety, Xinhua said. Gu and the aide Zhang Xiaojun are alleged to have poisoned Heywood together. The businessman died in November.
Eleven dead as Philippine forces fight Abu Sayyaf extremists
Seven soldiers and four militants were killed in clashes between Philippines forces and Muslim extremists on Thursday, the military said. Elite rangers battled members of the Al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf group on the troubled southern island of Basilan, AFP reports. Three soldiers and two insurgents were also wounded in the clash. The Abu Sayyaf gunmen had initially attacked rubber plantation workers in the island. The same fighters launched similar attacks in the same part of Basilan in previous weeks. In an ambush on July 11, six farm workers dead and 22 were wounded.
China launches third data relay Tianlian satellite
Beijing has successfully launched the Tianlian I-03 satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan Province. Wednesday’s launch completes the country's first generation of data relay satellite network system. The satellite will join its two predecessors. The first was launched in April 2008, and the second in July 2011. Tianlian I-03 will improve the network's coverage in providing measurement and control services for China's manned spacecraft. The satellite is also intended for the planned construction of future space labs and space stations.
12 killed and helicopter downed as security forces and Al-Qaeda clash in Iraq
An Iraqi spokesman says 12 members of the security forces have been killed and an army helicopter downed in two days of fierce clashes with militants in the country's northeast. According to Diyala province spokesman Salih Ebressim Khalil, one soldier was killed and another wounded on Thursday when Al-Qaeda militants shot at an army helicopter and forced it to make an emergency landing. Khalil added 11 federal policemen were killed late Wednesday in the fighting in the town of Hadid, about 10 kilometers north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba.
Seven killed in Pakistan’s Bajaur market – reports
At least seven people were reportedly killed on Thursday after a bomb exploded in the north-western Pakistani tribal region of Bajaur. More than 20 others were injured at a busy market in the Salarzai area. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, near the Afghan province of Kunar. Pakistan’s army has in the past declared the area to be secure.
Army clashes with militants in northeastern Iraq
The Iraqi army is battling militants in a northeastern area of the country, officials say. The area was once a stronghold for Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The clashes in the town of Hadid, 10 kilometers north of the Diyala provincial capital of Baqouba, have been ongoing since Wednesday night, AP said. No casualties were immediately reported. The battle started days after Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for a recent wave of violence that killed 115 people.
Ex-Milosevic ally Dacic to become PM of Serbia
Socialist leader Ivica Dacic is set to become Serbia's new prime minister. If elected, his government will also include a nationalist party of President Tomislav Nikolic and several smaller groups. The cabinet is expected to be sworn in at a parliament session later on Thursday. Dacic, a wartime spokesman of late strongman Slobodan Milosevic, has proclaimed pro-EU policies.
Romney meets British leaders during UK trip
US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney met with former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday as he began his visit to London. Romney and Blair discussed the Olympics at the start of the meting at Blair's private offices in central London, AP reports. The former British PM is now a special envoy to the Middle East. Romney will also meet with current Prime Minister David Cameron and several other British leaders. The presidential hopeful is expected to attend the opening of the Olympic Games.
Turkey to take action against Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Syria
Ankara has warned it will take additional measures against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan summoned civilian and military officials on Wednesday after the PKK’s offshoot in Syria reportedly seized control of a number of villages along the Syria-Turkey border. The offshoot, the Democratic Union of Kurdistan (PYD), is posing a threat to Turkey in its “fight against terrorism,” Turkish media say.