BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1100 GMT
SLOVYANSK, Ukraine — A column of armored personnel carriers flying Russian flags drove into a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russia demonstrators. Some of the troops aboard said they were Ukrainian soldiers who had switched allegiance. Insurgents in Slovyansk have seized the local police headquarters and administration building, demanding broader autonomy for their eastern Ukraine region and closer ties with Russia. By Yuras Karmanau. SENT: 330 words, photos. UPCOMING: 650 words by 1200 GMT.
MOSCOW — Russia’s economy minister says growth slowed to 0.8 percent in the first quarter due to uncertainty over the crisis in Ukraine. Alexei Ulyukayev told parliament Wednesday that the situation had worsened because of “the acute international situation of the past two months,” as well as “serious capital flight.” More capital left the country in the first three months of 2014 than in all of 2013. By Laura Mills. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 260 words by 1130 GMT.
LONDON — British lawmakers say that U.K. commanders’ complacency and inadequate security were partly to blame for the failure to stop a Taliban attack on a U.S-British base in Afghanistan in 2012 that killed two U.S. Marines. SENT: 250 words.
LONDON — Britain’s unemployment rate has fallen below 7 percent for the first time in five years, with earnings growth narrowly outstripping inflation for the first time since 2010. The Office for National Statistics said Wednesday that 2.24 million people were unemployed in the three months to February, a rate of 6.9 percent. That compares with 7.2 percent in the previous quarter. SENT: 250 words.
BERLIN — The high-profile tax evasion trial against former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has prompted a surge in the number of Germans turning themselves in to authorities for failing to properly declare their taxes. Munich daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported Wednesday that some 13,000 sought to escape prosecution by submitting amended tax returns during the first three months of the year. The paper says the figure is three times higher than during the same period in 2013. SENT: 130 words.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has given a lift to two lucky kids during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square. A particularly jovial Francis hopped off his white, open-air car Wednesday to greet a group of fifth graders from Perugia who presented him with a T-shirt from their school. Seemingly joking, Francis asked if any of them wanted to take a spin through the square. SENT: 130 words.