TOP STORIES IN EUROPE SO FAR ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2014

UKRAINE-PROTESTS

KIEV, Ukraine — Thick, dark smoke rises above the center of the Ukrainian capital as officers in riot gear sought to push demonstrators away from the city's main square following deadly clashes between riot police and protesters that have left at least 25 people dead and hundreds injured and raised fears of a civil war. The overnight clashes, the worst in nearly three months of protests, prompted the European Union to impose sanctions against Ukrainian officials responsible for the violence and angry rebukes from Moscow that accused the West of triggering the clashes by backing the opposition. By Maria Danilova. SENT: 1200 words, photos, video.

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UKRAINE-WORLD REACTION

The deadly clashes in Ukraine's capital have drawn sharp reactions from Washington, sparked a rapidly growing push for European Union sanctions and led to a Kremlin statement blaming Europe and the West. A roundup of some of the international reactions.

IRAN-NUCLEAR-TALKS

VIENNA — Even as Iran negotiates on a nuclear pact in exchange for an end to sanctions, the country's top leader is taking precautionary steps in case the talks fail. As the nuclear talks entered a second day Wednesday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered the government to create an "economy of resistance" to counter the sanctions. By George Jahn. SENT: 130 words.

BRITAIN-SNOWDEN-JOURNALIST

LONDON — Britain's High Court on Wednesday endorsed the detention of journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner and the seizure his documents at a London airport last summer, rejecting arguments that the stop amounted to a violation of free expression. A panel of three judges said London's Metropolitan Police officers acted properly when they invoked terrorism legislation to stop David Miranda at Heathrow Airport on August 18, seizing encrypted devices and questioning him for nearly nine hours. SENT: 250 words.

FRANCE-ENVIRONMENTAL PROTEST

PARIS — Paris police detained 12 Greenpeace activists who dumped a truckload of coal at the doorstep of France's presidential palace on Wednesday, hours before a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The activists also said the truck had two containers of nuclear waste with radioactive tritium inside them. While the water inside containers had far above-normal levels of radioactivity, it was not a threat to cleanup crews or police as long as it wasn't spilled, Greenpeace activists said. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 250 words.

TURKEY-INTERNET RESTRICTIONS

ANKARA, Turkey — Media reports say close to 80,000 people have stopped following Turkey's president on Twitter after he signed a controversial bill increasing government controls over the Internet into law. Abdullah Gul, who has more than 4 million followers on Twitter, announced in a tweet late Tuesday that he had ratified the legislation following government assurances that two disputed articles on Internet controls would be amended.

BRITAIN-PHONE HACKING

LONDON — After almost four months on trial, Rebekah Brooks is finally getting her day in court. After watching in silence from the dock as her alleged crimes were dissected, the former newspaper editor and Rupert Murdoch lieutenant will soon take the stand to rebut charges of phone hacking and other wrongdoing. The defense case is expected to open Wednesday at the trial of Brooks and six others, which has already produced more revelations than a stack of tabloid front pages. By Jill Lawless. SENT 820 words.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

GERMANY-CAR SHARING

BERLIN — Germans, once a nation of ardent automobile enthusiasts, are not buying cars like they used to. Instead, they're sharing them. The country has become the world's biggest user of one-way car sharing plans, where people find a vehicle using their smartphone, drive it across town and leave it there without having to return it to a central base. The powerful auto industry first ignored the trend, but is now jumping on board. It's a gamble, however, that could end up demonstrating to a new generation that vehicle ownership is a thing of the past. By Frank Jordans. SENT: 900 words, photos.

VATICAN-REFORM

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis penned a new missive on the injustices of poverty Wednesday amid indications he is eyeing a major overhaul of the Vatican's financial house by creating a finance ministry to better serve the church. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, a key adviser in Francis' Group of Eight cardinal cabinet, told the French Catholic newspaper La Croix that creating a "finance secretariat" was needed to better organize the Vatican's diverse financial departments. By Nicole Winfield. SENT: 300 words sent.

DENMARK-EARNS-CARLSBERG

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Carlsberg says beer sales are likely to fall this year in western Europe and Russia, but continue to grow in Asia. The Copenhagen-based group says its fourth-quarter net sales fell slightly to 15.7 billion kroner ($2.9 billion) as overall beer volumes dropped 3 percent. SENT: 130 words

BRITAIN-ECONOMY

LONDON — Policymakers at the Bank of England voted unanimously at their last meeting to keep the key interest rate at the record low of 0.5 percent, buoyed by a strengthening economy and subdued inflation. Minutes published Wednesday for the February meeting showed policymakers were also united in opting to refrain from pumping more money into the economy and to broaden their view as to what might prompt them to raise rates. SENT: 130 words.