DONETSK, Ukraine — With its vocal backing for separatist elections in eastern Ukraine, Russia has painted itself into another diplomatic corner. Rebel leaders say Sunday's vote hands them a mandate to pull the region further away from Ukrainian rule. The only clear result, however, is that Western sanctions levied Russia will be left in place and a peaceful settlement to a months-long feels as faint as ever. By Nataliya Vasilyeva and Peter Leonard. SENT: 385 words, photos. UPCOMING: 700 words by 1600 GMT.


ISTANBUL — A boat carrying suspected migrants from Afghanistan and Syria has sunk just north of the Bosphorus Strait off the coast of Istanbul, leaving at least 24 people dead. A further 12 were believed to be missing, while seven were rescued, authorities said. SENT: 200 words.


PARIS — French security chiefs are investigating a spate of mysterious and illegal overflights of French nuclear power stations by tiny, unmanned drones. A government official told The Associated Press that authorities have counted about 15 drone flights over a half-dozen nuclear sites since Oct. 1. Authorities insist France's nuclear facilities are designed to handle seismic and security risks, including those possibly posed by drones. By Jamey Keaten. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1330 GMT.


WARSAW, Poland — An adviser to the Polish president has accused U.S. authorities of "absolute ignorance" in seeking the arrest of film director Roman Polanski, a Holocaust survivor, while he was in Poland last week for the opening of a Jewish history museum. U.S. authorities sought Polanski's arrest on 1977 charges of having sex with a minor. SENT: 130 words, file photo. UPCOMING: 300 words by 1300 GMT.


BUCHAREST, Romania — Near-final results show that Romania's center-left prime minister will face a city mayor in the runoff for the presidency after no candidate secured a majority of the vote. With some 91 percent of the votes counted early Monday, Prime Minister Victor Ponta had won 40 percent of the vote while the mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, had 30.5 percent. SENT: 130 words.


GENEVA — Police say they have found three people dead in a Swiss Alpine town, but aren't immediately giving details on how they died. Bern canton (state) police spokeswoman Ramona Mock said officers found three bodies near the railway station in Wilderswil, in central Switzerland, after being called to the scene. SENT: 75 words.



ATHENS, Greece — Greece's government says mortgage holders could be allowed to pay discounted rates for up to 15 years, as part of a major effort to reduce the number of non-performing loans in the bailed-out country. Development Minister Nikos Dendias says the government hopes to finalize plans next month granting loan holders the right to effectively freeze payments on 30 percent of the money borrowed to buy their home. The hope is that the property market recovers from the steep drop in prices seen during the six-year recession. SENT: 130 words.


DUBLIN — Ryanair has raised its profit outlook again, sending shares in Europe's biggest budget airline to a record high. The airline says its net profit for the half year between April and September rose 32 percent to 795 million euros ($994 million). Chief Executive Michael O'Leary said he would boost services during the traditionally weak, loss-making winter season. SENT: 130 words.


HELSINKI — Statoil says its large oil field in the North Sea is expected to yield some 1,350 billion kroner ($200 billion) over coming decades, making it one of Norway's most profitable industrial projects. The Norwegian oil and gas company says the Johan Sverdrup field, first discovered in 2010, is one of the biggest discoveries on the Norwegian continental shelf since the mid-1980s. SENT: 130 words.


LONDON — HSBC, the U.K.'s biggest bank, set aside $378 million for possible fines arising from probes into foreign exchange manipulation, joining other major British lenders in bracing for the outcome of the investigations. The provision was just one of a series of charges that boosted one-time expenses to $1.7 billion in the third quarter from $784 million in the same period last year. SENT: 130 words.