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Putin plays down 1937 purges

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday no one should try to make Russia feel guilty about the Great Purge of 1937, saying it may have been one of the most notorious episodes of the Stalin era but “in other countries even worse things happened.”

Speaking at a televised meeting with social studies teachers, Putin noted that this is the 70th anniversary of a year many Russians regard as a synonym for state-sponsored terror. It is an anniversary that has, however, gotten relatively little attention in Russian media.

“Yes, we had terrible pages” in Russia’s history, Putin said. “Let us recall the events since 1937, let us not forget that. But in other countries, it has been said, it was more terrible.”

Russia should never forget the abuses of the Communist era, Putin said. But he also said no one had the right to make Russia feel guilty about those abuses.

“No one must be allowed to impose the feeling of guilt on us,” he said. “Let them think about themselves. But we must not and will not forget about the grim chapters in our history.”

Islamabad, Pakistan

Group: Pakistan building reactor

Satellite images show that Pakistan is building a new nuclear reactor that can produce weapons-grade plutonium, an American watchdog group said Thursday, warning that it could contribute to an atomic arms race with archrival India.

A picture taken June 3 shows work progressing rapidly on the reactor at the Khushab nuclear site, 100 miles southwest of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, the Institute of Science for International Security said.

The development of the reactor and other nuclear-related activities “imply” that Pakistan has decided to “increase significantly its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons,” the Washington-based institute said in a report analyzing the images.

A senior official at the Pakistan Atomic Energy Authority said the country was “extending our infrastructure,” but declined to address the details of the report.

Beirut, Lebanon

Victory claimed over militants

Lebanon’s defense minister declared victory Thursday over the Fatah Islam militant group, saying it had been crushed after a monthlong military assault on its stronghold in a northern refugee camp and only mopping up remained.

A Muslim cleric who has been acting as a mediator said later that Fatah Islam agreed to stop firing, and calm descended over the Nahr el-Bared camp outside the port of Tripoli

The battle, Lebanon’s worst internal violence since the 1975-90 civil war, killed 76 soldiers, at least 60 militants and more than 20 civilians. It came amid a fierce political power struggle between the Western-backed government and an opposition led by the militant Hezbollah.


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