BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP
TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1125 GMT
PARIS — Bolivia’s president left Europe for home on Wednesday amid diplomatic drama, a day after his flight was rerouted and delayed in Austria amid suggestions that he was trying to spirit NSA leaker Edward Snowden to Latin America. Bolivia demanded explanation from various European countries it accused of thwarting President Evo Morales’ flight. By Angela Charlton.
BERLIN — Germany’s top security official says Internet users worried about their data being intercepted by U.S. intelligence agencies should stop using American websites such as Google and Facebook. Leaked revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency’s wholesale information on foreign web users has prompted outrage in Europe and calls for tighter international rules on data protection.
MOSCOW — A leading Chechen rebel on Tuesday called on Islamist militants in Russia’s North Caucasus to disrupt the upcoming Winter Games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, reversing his previous appeal not to target civilians in the region. Sochi is hosting the Winter Olympics in February in what has been described as President Vladimir Putin’s pet project. The overall bill for the Games stands at $51 billion, making them by far the most expensive Olympics in history. By Nataliya Vasilyeva.
MOSCOW — Russian authorities arrested the only opposition mayor of a major city Wednesday for allegedly soliciting bribes and said they found vast sums of cash stashed in his apartment building. The Investigative Committee in Yaroslavl, a city of about 590,000 some 250 kilometers (150 miles) east of Moscow, said that it arrested mayor Evgeny Urlashov and three of his deputies for allegedly demanding a bribe of 14 million rubles (about $420,000) from an unidentified contractor. Police later said that this was part of a total 45 million ruble bribe Urlashov and his deputies allegedly demanded from the contractor. By Max Seddon.
ATHENS, Greece — Police in Greece say two fugitives have been shot dead in western Greece following a major manhunt for a gang of five Albanian armed robbers who broke out of a prison in March. A statement from the national police says the two were killed in a firefight with police special forces shortly after nightfall Tuesday in a mountainous area near the city of Agrinio, which lies about 300 kilometers (185 miles) west of Athens.
LONDON — Before Kate Middleton, other members of the royal family set fashion trends: Queen Elizabeth II, her sometimes risque sister Margaret, and the glamorous Princess Diana. The couture on display in a new exhibit at Kensington Palace shows that each, in their way, made an impact in Britain and beyond. By Sylvia Hui.
HELSINKI — A future British king or queen might spend some early hours sleeping in a cardboard box — if a maternity package donated by Finland’s social security service proves a success. The Nordic country has given a baby box to Prince William and former Catherine Middleton, who are expecting their first baby in mid-July.
LONDON — Few people have been photographed more often than Kate Moss, and some of the most famous images of the supermodel are going under the hammer at a Christie’s auction this fall. The sale, announced Wednesday, includes a shot of Moss encased in bronze glitter by Allen Jones and images by well-known photographers including Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, Sam Taylor-Wood and Irving Penn. By Jill Lawless.
BUSINESS AND FINANCIAL
PARIS — The French government calls for major trade negotiations between the United States and the European Union suspended for two weeks amid anger over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on European allies. Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem says mutual trust is needed before launching talks on such a huge trade deal, expected to provide a boost to economies on both sides of the Atlantic.
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal’s financial markets went into a steep nosedive Wednesday as the government teetered on the verge of collapse, alarming investors and reigniting concerns about the eurozone’s strategy for dealing with its prolonged financial crisis. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho defied calls to resign late Tuesday but he was running out of options to keep his center-right coalition government together following the resignations of key ministers in a spat over austerity. By Barry Hatton.
NICOSIA_It’s been just over 100 days since its financial rescue and Cyprus is struggling to cope with life under the terms of an international bailout. The country’s shell-shocked banking system is still reeling from a punishing restructuring while harsh capital controls at the banks are holding back spending. The economy is projected to shrink by more than 9 percent this year and has a 16 percent unemployment rate. Meanwhile, international ratings agencies are warning that the country has defaulted on its debts. By Menelaos Hadjicostis
EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK
FRANKFURT, Germany — European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday is likely to stress that it is still a long way off from following the U.S. Federal Reserve in planning to phasing-out its stimulus for the lagging economy. Economists expect the ECB to leave its benchmark interest rate for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro unchanged at a record low of 0.5 percent when its 23-member rate-setting council meets at its headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany. By David McHugh
BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is bringing together officials from across Europe on Wednesday to discuss how best to get young people into jobs, but is insisting that money alone won’t be enough. The heads of the 28 European Union countries’ national labor agencies and their labor ministers were meeting before Merkel joins French President Francois Hollande and other leaders at a conference in Berlin.
LONDON — Retail sales across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro rose by more than expected in May, official figures showed Wednesday, in a welcome development that may mean the eurozone has exited its recession. Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, said Wednesday that retail sales during the month were 1 percent higher than April and that meant the annual decline eased to only 0.1 percent from 1 percent. By Pan Pylas.
AMSTERDAM — The European Commission says states should be allowed to support airports and new airline routes with taxpayer money — if the aid is temporary in nature.
LONDON — No. 1 Novak Djokovic is bidding to reach his 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal against No. 7 Tomas Berdych at Wimbledon. Berdych trails in their head-to-head 13-2 but has won their only previous meeting on grass, in the semifinals at the All England Club three years ago. In other quarterfinals, home favorite No.2 Andy Murray takes on Fernando Verdasco, No. 4 David Ferrer plays against No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz meets Lukasz Kubot in the first Grand Slam match between two Polish male players. By Eddie Pells