July 25, 2010 in Nation/World

In brief: Putin motors into biker convention

From Wire Reports
Associated Press photo

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin arrives at a gathering of Russian and Ukrainian motorcyclists at their camp in southern Ukraine on Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

Sevastopol, Ukraine – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin leaped on a Harley-Davidson and roared into an international biker convention in southern Ukraine.

Around 5,000 bikers from Europe and beyond gathered in Sevastopol for the annual festival Saturday on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

Putin, in Ukraine for talks with the country’s new Russia-friendly leadership, had his black shirt sleeves rolled up as he motored toward a stage along a dusty road on the three-wheeled bike.

In sunglasses, black jeans and black fingerless gloves, the Russian prime minister clearly reveled in the moment, smiling and waving to the enthusiastic crowd.

From a podium, he described the motorbike as “the most democratic form of transport.”

Havana – Fidel Castro made his first reported appearance outside Havana on Saturday since a health crisis forced him from power in 2006, the strongest indication yet he is reclaiming a major public persona after years out of the spotlight.

The gray-bearded, 83-year-old former leader wore an olive-green shirt at a ceremony in Artemisa, 40 miles west of Cuba’s capital, honoring fallen fighters in his revolution. Though frail, Castro looked a bit like his old self in video released on state television and in photos posted on the government website Cubadebate.

It was the latest in a slew of public appearances in recent weeks, but was of note because it marked Castro’s first confirmed trip outside Havana since undergoing intestinal surgery, and because he wore an olive green button-down shirt.

Though devoid of stars and insignia, the shirt was reminiscent of the military uniform that was Castro’s trademark for nearly a half century and differed sharply from the tracksuits he had on in government photos and videos released as he recuperated from his undisclosed illness in a secret location. He also occasionally wore street clothes when visiting with foreign leaders or dignitaries.

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