BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1100 GMT
MOSCOW — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the West of plotting to control Ukraine and said the pro-Russian insurgents in the southeast would lay down their arms only if the Ukrainian government clears out the Maidan protest camp in the capital Kiev. Russia raises a key interest rate following a downgrade by a debt-rating agency. In Seoul, President Barack Obama says he will call key European leaders to discuss what’s happened since a deal was reached last week in Geneva to de-escalate the crisis. By Nataliya Vasilyeva. SENT: 600 words, photos. UPCOMING 750 words by 1200 GMT.
MOSCOW — Russia’s Central Bank has unexpectedly raised its key interest rate in an effort to stem inflation as the country begins to feel the impact of its policies in Ukraine. The Central Bank said Friday it has increased its one-week auction rate by 0.5 percentage points to 7.5 percent. The Russian ruble has fallen to record lows in recent weeks amid concerns over the Ukrainian crisis — a weaker currency tends to push inflation up. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1200 GMT.
VILNIUS, Lithuania — Later this year, a ship the size of an aircraft carrier will arrive at Lithuania’s port of Klaipeda on the Baltic Sea. The 300-meter (984-foot) vessel is not a warship, but a floating natural gas import terminal — aptly named “Independence” — that will be key to the Baltic region’s plan to reduce its reliance on Russia’s energy supplies. The countries in this northeastern corner of the European Union are among the most dependent on Russia to keep their homes warm and industries running. The three Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania get all their gas from Russia and lack connections to the wider European pipeline system that would allow them to import from elsewhere. Poland meets 70 percent of its energy needs with Russian supplies. By David Mchugh and Liudas Dapkus. SENT: 860 words, photos.
PORTUGAL-REMEMBERING A REVOLUTION
LISBON, Portugal — Euphoria gripped Portugal during the 1974 Carnation Revolution, when junior army officers swept away a four-decade dictatorship. The almost bloodless coup brought what for the Portuguese were novelties — the right to vote, universal health care, public education, old-age pensions and labor rights. On the coup’s 40th anniversary Friday, the prevailing mood among the Portuguese is anger at how their government is now stripping away those cherished entitlements amid a financial crisis. By Barry Hatton. SENT: 640 words, photos.
LONDON — The British government has vetoed a plan by part-nationalized Royal Bank of Scotland to pay bonuses of up to double annual salaries. The bank had planned to put the bonus proposal to shareholders. SENT: 130 words.
BRUSSELS — Australians and New Zealanders united from drenched Sydney to the World War I battlefields in Europe to honor their war dead on ANZAC Day, one year ahead of the centenary of their emblematic campaign in Gallipoli. Thousands of visitors traveled to Turkey for Friday’s solemn ceremony on the Gallipoli peninsula where the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed on 25 April, 1915 for an unsuccessful and bloody eight-month campaign. SENT: 130 words, photos.
PARIS — France’s markets regulator has ordered trading suspended in shares of engineering company Alstom amid heated speculation that General Electric Co. is considering buying it. Reports that GE may make a bid sent Alstom shares spiking this week, and its stock closed nearly 11 percent higher Thursday at 27 euros. The Euronext stock exchange says trading was halted Friday morning at the regulator’s request. SENT: 130 words.