In brief: Putin vows corruption crackdown in speech
Moscow – Russian President Vladimir Putin stunned high-level officials Wednesday by proposing to hinder their abilities to possess Western bank accounts and own real estate abroad.
Putin, in his first state-of-the-union speech since returning to the presidency, focused largely on domestic issues, saying that fighting corruption is one of the key priorities of his third presidential term.
Putin told a gathering of government ministers, lawmakers, regional governors and spiritual leaders in the Grand Kremlin Palace that he was asking for their support in limiting the rights of bureaucrats and politicians to hold foreign bank accounts and stocks.
Putin said the limitations should apply to the highest officials, including presidential staff and parliament, government officials and managers of state-owned companies, and their relatives. He also said that the prosecutor’s office has the right to seek confiscation of illegally acquired property.
Report: Poaching up; tigers near extinction
United Nations – Elephant and Rhino poaching surged to record levels in 2011 and an increase in illegal tiger hunting makes the species’ extinction a real near-term threat with only about 3,200 of the big cats left in the wild, according to a report commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.
The report, launched Wednesday, found that illicit trade in wildlife is worth at least $19 billion a year with organized criminals viewing it as high profit and low risk because governments don’t give it a high enough priority and haven’t implemented an effective response.
Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Peter Wittig, who hosted the launch, said strong demand and high prices for rhino horn and elephant ivory in particular have spurred poaching, which is an organized crime.
Court finds Bosnian guilty for genocide role
The Hague, Netherlands – A U.N. war crimes court convicted a former senior Bosnian Serb army commander Wednesday of genocide for playing a key role in Europe’s worst massacre since World War II and sentenced him to life imprisonment, delivering another measure of justice to survivors still hunting for the remains of their husbands and sons.
In a majority ruling, a three-judge panel at the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal said Gen. Zdravko Tolimir was the “right hand” of Bosnian Serb military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic, who is considered the chief architect of the murder of some 8,000 Muslim men and boys at the Srebrenica enclave in eastern Bosnia in July 1995.
“The accused not only had knowledge of genocidal intent of others but also possessed it himself,” Presiding Judge Christoph Fluegge said.