News in Brief

Abramovich Elected Speaker

Billionaire businessman Roman Abramovich on Wednesday was unanimously elected as the speaker of the regional legislature in the remote Arctic region of Chukotka, the regional administration said in a statement on its web site.

Abramovich, owner of the British football club Chelsea, was Chukotka's governor for eight years before President Dmitry Medvedev let him resign in July. Medvedev's predecessor, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, had refused to accept his resignation.

Abramovich is believed to have pumped millions into the region, which has a population of 50,000 and lies opposite Alaska on the Bering Strait.

Abramovich, who is widely popular in the region, won a seat in the legislature earlier this month with 97 percent of the vote. (AP)

4 Opposition Rallies

At least four sanctioned opposition rallies will be held in Moscow on Saturday, Interfax cited a City Hall official as saying Wednesday.

As many as 500 people have been allowed to gather at 5 p.m. Saturday on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad, near the Mayakovskaya metro station, for an event titled "Day of Popular Rage," Interfax reported. The protest is being organized in part by the opposition group Red Youth Vanguard, its leader, Sergei Udaltsov, told Interfax.

Rallies under the same name are to to be held Saturday in the Moscow region, Omsk, Kaliningrad, Nizhny Novgorod, Irkutsk, Perm and several other cities, Interfax reported. (MT)

Fidel Castro Meets Kirill

HAVANA --Fidel Castro said he had an "agreeable and edifying" meeting with a top Russian Orthodox Church official, whom he described as "no enemy of socialism."

The ailing former Cuban president said the meeting with Metropolitan Kirill, the church's top foreign relations official, was held Sunday after the consecration of a new Russian Orthodox cathedral in Havana. He offered no details.

Cuba's state-controlled media had not previously reported on the meeting, which Castro mentioned late Tuesday on a government web site.

Castro said he proposed the cathedral as a monument to Cuban-Russian friendship when he met with Kirill during a 2004 visit, and that he decided to meet with the him again Sunday after it had been consecrated. (AP)