News in Brief

'Russia Not as Bad as Iran'



WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that he was troubled by Iranian activities in Latin America that he saw as meddling but that Russian military activities there did not bother him at all.

Gates, speaking to a U.S. Senate panel, did not say what he thought Iran was up to militarily. But he called Iran a threat there that Russia, despite high-profile maneuvers, is not.

Gates shrugged off Russian naval tours in places like Venezuela. He said that if Russia had not raised alarms by invading Georgia last year, he would have invited Russian ships to dock in Miami as well.

He said the Russian sailors would have had more fun there than in Caracas. (AP)




5 Years for Athlete's Death



The driver who hit and killed Olympic cross-country ski champion Alexei Prokurorov has been sentenced to five years in prison, Interfax reported Tuesday.

A court in Vladimir on Tuesday also permanently revoked the license of the driver, Yury Matsora, 23, the report said.

Matsora was drunk and was not authorized to drive at that time because of previous infractions, Interfax reported.

Prokurorov, who competed in five Olympics, most recently at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, died while crossing a road on his way to a train station in October. He was 44.

He won gold in the 30-kilometer freestyle at the 1988 Calgary Games and was a 13-time national champion. (AP)




Niyazov Loses Titles



ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmenistan has removed references to its autocratic former leader and his mother from the titles of two state-run publications.

The changes are the government's latest move to dismantle former President Saparmurat Niyazov's pervasive personality cult since his death in 2006.

Youth-oriented newspaper "Descendants of Turkmenbashi" has been renamed just "Descendants."

Niyazov called himself "Turkmenbashi," which means the father of all Turkmens.

Also, a magazine named in honor of Niyazov's mother will now be called "Women's Soul." (AP)