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BC-AP--AP European News Digest at 1100 GMT, AP

April 22, 2014

UKRAINE

KIEV, Ukraine — U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukrainian political leaders Tuesday that the United States stands with them against “humiliating threats” and encouraged them to root out corruption as they rebuild their government. In the most high-level visit of a U.S. official since crisis erupted in Ukraine, Biden told leaders from various political parties that he brings a message of support from President Barack Obama as they face a historic opportunity to usher in reforms. SENT: 600 words, photos.

SWITZERLAND-NOVARTIS

GENEVA — Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG announced a series of multibillion-dollar deals Tuesday with other major pharmaceutical companies that it said would reduce sales but boost profitability, while affecting some 15,000 of its employees globally. SENT: 400 words. By John Heilprin.

EU-REL-POLAND-FADING-JOHN-PAUL

WADOWICE, Poland — His death triggered a massive outpouring of grief in Poland, his beatification an explosion of pride and jubilation. But days before John Paul II is to be declared a saint, many of his countrymen are greeting the landmark with little more than a shrug. One reason is that John Paul has already long been a saint in Polish hearts, but it’s also clear that less than a decade since his death, the enthusiasm that Poles accord their great countryman seems to be dissipating. By Monika Scislowska. SENT: 730 words, photos. By Monika Scislowska.

RUSSIA-OPPOSITION LEADER

MOSCOW — Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny is awaiting the verdict in a libel case on Tuesday that could make his subsequent jailing a matter of time. Navalny, who has described legal proceedings against him as retribution for his political activities, is serving a suspended sentence following a July trial and faces another trial later this week. UPCOMING: 700 words by 1300 GMT. By Nataliya Vasilyeva.

GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — Germany’s Finance Ministry says the government’s tax income rose sharply in March and saw a healthy overall first-quarter rise as Europe’s biggest economy picked up momentum. The ministry said Tuesday that Germany’s tax take totaled some 55.4 billion euros ($76.4 billion) last month — 7.2 percent higher than a year earlier, when unusually persistent winter weather weighed down the economy. In the first quarter, the tax income climbed 3.7 percent to 140 billion euros. SENT: 130 words.

NETHERLANDS-EARNS-PHILIPS

AMSTERDAM — Royal Philips NV says its first-quarter profits declined as growth slowed in several divisions and consumers spent less on light bulbs. The world’s largest lighting maker said Tuesday first-quarter net profit was 138 million euros ($190 million), down from 161 million euros in the same period a year earlier. Revenues were down 4.8 percent to 5.02 billion euros. SENT: 230 words.

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