Nation/World

In brief: Russia’s foreign minister slams Western support for Ukraine

Munich – Russia’s foreign minister slammed Western support of Ukraine’s opposition, suggesting Saturday that it is helping fuel the escalation of violence.

Ukraine has faced two months of major protests that started after President Viktor Yanukovych backed off an agreement to deepen ties with the European Union in favor of relations with Moscow.

The protests had been mostly peaceful until mid-January, when demonstrators angered by new anti-protest laws launched violent clashes with police. Three protesters died in the clashes, two of them from gunshot wounds. Police insist they didn’t fire the fatal shots.

At a gathering of the world’s top diplomats and defense officials in Munich, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took issue with what he said were “prominent European politicians actually encouraging such actions.”

“What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy?” Lavrov said. “Why don’t we hear condemnations of those who seize and hold government buildings, burn, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans?”

Judge in Amanda Knox case ‘suffered’ over verdict

Rome – The judge who presided over Amanda Knox’s second murder conviction says he suffered over the verdict, but that he and the jury reached agreement that she was guilty in the death of British student Meredith Kercher.

Judge Alessandro Nencini also suggested in an interview with Corriere della Sera published Saturday that the decision of Knox’s ex-boyfriend and co-defendant, Raffaele Sollecito, not to testify may have worked against him.

“It’s the defendant’s right, but it certainly deprived the process of a voice,” Nencini was quoted as saying. “He limited himself to spontaneous declarations. He said only what he wanted to say without letting himself be cross-examined.” Knox did not appear at the trial but sent a letter to the court saying she feared wrongful conviction.

The newspaper said Nencini consented to the interview because he knew the sentence would create a media storm. The case has been top international news since Kercher was found in a pool of blood with her throat slit on Nov. 2, 2007, in the apartment Knox and Kercher shared in the university town of Perugia.

Hundreds stuck on snow-hit roads in Serbia

Belgrade, Serbia – Rescuers, army and police have evacuated more than 1,000 people from cars and buses stranded in deep snow in northern Serbia, but several hundred people still remain stuck, the government said Saturday.

Authorities have closed down snow-hit roads and banned river traffic on the Danube river because of strong winds, according to the government statement.

Winter so far in Serbia had been exceptionally mild, but over the last week a cold spell and snowstorms have swept across parts of central and eastern Europe. Heavy snow in Bulgaria left dozens of villages without electricity and water and Romanian authorities declared a “code red” weather warning on Wednesday.



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