Russia expanded its growing European energy empire Friday, signing two more deals in a drive that is raising fears Moscow could use its vast oil and gas resources to meddle in the affairs of its neighbors.
Russia already supplies a quarter of Europe’s natural gas and oil needs, and some Western leaders worry the growing dependence is giving the Kremlin a powerful geopolitical weapon.
Announcing the signing of two agreements with Serbia, Russian officials said the deal would make the poor Balkan nation an important hub for the distribution of Russian gas.
Moscow has been rushing to build or acquire European pipelines, storage facilities, ports and energy companies. But Russian government and corporate officials say the expansion is strictly a commercial effort that benefits both sides and ensures Europe gets the energy it needs.
Election dispute claims more lives
Clashes broke out Friday in western Kenya, leaving at least two people dead, even as urgent mediation efforts continued between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga.
The city of Nakuru had been spared the turmoil that has raged elsewhere in Kenya since Odinga accused Kibaki of stealing the Dec. 27 presidential election.
But on Friday, street battles erupted in the city between Kibaki’s tribe, the Kikuyu, which has dominated Kenyan politics for more than 40 years, and Odinga’s Luo tribe and other groups that have supported the opposition leader, according to news accounts.
At least a dozen people were treated for machete wounds, gashes from stones and other injuries, said Anthony Mwangi, a spokesman for the Kenya Red Cross Society. Two people were killed, he said. Witnesses told the Associated Press that at least 12 people had died.
Medical school kicks out murderer
A medical student convicted in a 1999 murder with neo-Nazi links has been expelled from Sweden’s leading medical school in a case that sparked debate over whether a killer can become a doctor after having paid his debt to society.
The Karolinska institute, known for awarding the Nobel Prize in medicine, revoked Karl Svensson’s admission to its prestigious medical program this week after an investigation into his background, the university president said Friday.
Svensson, 31, was admitted last fall after his application to the program was approved.
However, the university knew nothing about his dark past until getting two anonymous tips that Svensson’s original identity was Hampus Hellekant, an alleged neo-Nazi sympathizer who had served seven years in prison for the murder of a labor union activist, the school’s president said.
He was convicted along with two other men in 2000 in the fatal shooting.