BC-AP--AP European News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FOR MONDAY, MARCH 24, 2014
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to withdraw from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula. Russian forces have been systematically seizing Ukrainian ships and military installations in Crimea, including a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, where two wounded servicemen were taken captive on Monday and as many as 80 were detained on-site, Ukrainian officials said. SENT: 365 words, photos. By Peter Leonard.
KIEV, Ukraine — A hairstyling business closes four salons rather than deal with crooked tax officials. An independent salesman hustling paint from the trunk of his car faces a $5 million tax penalty. That’s the world of small business in Ukraine — a tangled thicket of bribe-hungry government inspectors and complicated, unpredictable regulations. Reforms to reduce graft and red tape are set to be part of the conditions of an international financial rescue package that officials in Kiev are expected to wrap up with the International Monetary Fund this week. Yet it will take some doing — Ukraine’s culture of corruption is deeply entrenched. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 1400 GMT. By David McHugh
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Japan will hand over to the United States more than 315 kilograms (700 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium and a supply of highly enriched uranium — a victory for President Barack Obama’s efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, American and Japanese officials announced the deal Monday at a two-day nuclear security summit in The Hague — the meeting’s first major breakthrough. SENT: 370 words, photos. By Toby Sterling and Juergen Baetz.
MADRID — Spain’s King Juan Carlos joined politicians in Parliament on Monday to pay their last respects to Adolfo Suarez, the country’s first democratically elected prime minister following decades of right-wing rule under Gen. Francisco Franco. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other political leaders stood outside the parliament building as soldiers brought in Suarez’s coffin to a slow and solemn drum beat. SENT: 220 words, photos.
DUBLIN — Do you own a shaggy sheep? Ireland needs ewes. The Irish require at least 6,000 sheep as hosts of this year’s Golden Shears World Championships. But they’re more than 1,000 short with just weeks to go before an event dubbed “the Olympics of sheep shearing.” SENT: 130 words.
VIENNA — It was put on auction as the only camera that made it to the moon and back. And it had its price — nearly $760,000. The Hasselblad 500 sold over the weekend is described by Vienna auctioneers Galerie Westlicht as part of the equipment carried by the 1971 Apollo 15 mission — and the only camera ever brought back from the moon. It says the others were left behind to make room for mineral samples. SENT: 120 words, photos.
BELGRADE, Serbia — A suspected Balkan drug boss has pleaded not guilty to charges that he trafficked 5.7 tons of cocaine from South America to Europe and laundered millions of dollars in drug money. Darko Saric told the judges on Monday that “it’s all one big lie.” This was Saric’s first court appearance since he was jailed last week after several years on the run. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1300 GMT.
UNITED NATIONS-GLOBAL WEATHER
GENEVA — The U.N. weather agency blames human impact on the global climate for much of last year’s extreme weather that wreaked havoc in Asia and the Pacific region and in Europe. The World Meteorological Organization’s annual assessment says 2013 was the sixth-warmest year on record. Thirteen of the 14 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. SENT: 130 words, photos. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1230 GMT.
MILAN — Italian financial police say they have arrested a former executive of the state-controlled Finmeccanica defense contractor in a bribery investigation. Naples prosecutor Francesco Greco said in a statement that Stefano Carlini, former head of external relations, was one of four people placed under house arrest Monday, along with a former executive of a Finmeccanica subsidiary and two Rome businessmen. SENT: 130 words.
HELSINKI — Nokia Corp. says the sale of its mobile phone unit to Microsoft will be delayed until next month because it is still waiting for approval from regulatory authorities in Asia. The Finnish company said Monday that the 5.4 billion euros ($7.3 billion) deal announced in September and expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014, has been approved by the EU and U.S. authorities but “certain antitrust authorities In Asia” were still reviewing the deal. SENT: 130 words.