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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Yushchenko Bloc

KIEV (AP) — From atop Ukraine’s highest peak, former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko has announced the creation of a broad political coalition to run in parliamentary elections next March.

Yushchenko announced the formation of the Our Ukraine bloc on Sunday after climbing Hoverla mountain to mark the 11th anniversary of Ukraine’s sovereignty, Interfax said.

About 2,000 people took part in the climb, a traditional way of celebrating Ukrainian independence.

"We are talking about a democratic union, where narrowness or traditional views will not dominate," Yushchenko said. "We are talking about the consolidation of power, the organization of views and democratic forces, which can leave behind some of their positions, including ideological ones, to unite for the future bloc."

Yushchenko said he consulted dozens of movements on both the right and the left that are ready to join the movement. The coalition is expected to gather in the fall and adopt a platform and a list of parliamentary candidates. Yushchenko, who as prime minister initiated broad reforms and helped produce a record 6 percent economic growth in 2000 before being dismissed in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April, said he was ready to lead the bloc.

Yushchenko’s move came a week after the formation of the National Salvation Forum, a liberal opposition movement that sought Yushchenko’s participation. One of the forum’s leaders, Anatoly Matvienko, said that by forming his own movement, Yushchenko was hindering the unification of opposition forces. "There should be only one national bloc of all national-democratic parties," he said.

Aeroflot Emergency

MOSCOW (AP) — A faulty signal prompted the crew of an Aeroflot passenger plane en route from Nepal to shut down one of its three engines and make an emergency landing at Sheremetyevo Airport on Monday, Interfax reported.

The Tu-154 was on Aeroflot’s regular Kathmandu to Moscow flight with 76 passengers on board when the pilots switched off the engine over Baku, Azerbaijan, and continued flying with two working engines, Interfax said, citing Aeroflot officials.

It later transpired that the transmitter had given a false warning, and nothing was wrong with the engine, it said. Nobody was hurt in the incident, which will be investigated by a special commission.

NATO Blasted

ROME (Reuters) — President Vladimir Putin said Monday that NATO should be disbanded and replaced by a pan-European security body that included Russia.

In a wide-ranging interview with Corriere della Sera newspaper, Putin said NATO expansion eastward toward Russia merely prolonged Cold War divisions of the continent.

He complained that NATO had used force to achieve political goals in Europe, and taken little notice of the UN Security Council, further undermining trust. "NATO could be disbanded as was the Warsaw Pact, but that is not even taken into consideration," he added.

Putin, who is visiting Italy later this week for the Group of Seven summit in Genoa, Italy, said Moscow would consider the START arms control treaties invalid if the United States pursues its missile defense program. "That means we could install more warheads on our missiles, and other countries might too. An arms race would become a real threat. And it would not be our fault."

In the interview, Putin also praised Pope John Paul II and expressed hope that the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches can heal their centuries-old divisions. Putin’s tone differed sharply from that of the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, who strongly protested the pope’s recent visit to Ukraine. Putin praised John Paul for his visits to predominantly Orthodox countries.

"I would be truly happy if relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Holy See developed positively, opening new horizons," Putin said.

Putin: Lenin Stays

ROME (Reuters) — The preserved body of Vladimir Lenin should stay on display in its Red Square mausoleum despite calls for it to be buried, President Vladimir Putin told an Italian newspaper Monday.

"This is a decision which, above all, has emotive implications," Putin said in an interview with Corriere della Sera.

"Once I see an overwhelming majority of people wanting to tackle the Lenin question, we will discuss it. But today I don’t see it and therefore we will not talk about it."

Suggestions that Lenin be reburied next to his mother in St. Petersburg have met opposition from communists, while liberals claim there is no place for the public display of corpses in modern society and see Lenin as an inappropriate hero for post-communist Russia.

Former President Boris Yeltsin said many times that he intended to bury Lenin, but never followed through, although he removed the honor guard from the mausoleum.

Royal Judo Bout?

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Prince Albert of Monaco said Sunday he would not mind trying out Russian President Vladimir Putin’s skills as a judo fighter.

"Well, I will have to get back in judo shape a little bit, but why not?" said Albert, an International Olympic Committee member, Olympic bobsleigher and a keen race driver. "I used to do judo as a kid and I have always followed the sport."

Albert has been in Moscow for IOC meetings to choose the 2008 Olympics venue and a new IOC head. The session closed Monday.

Last year, Putin demonstrated his beloved judo moves during a visit to Japan and earlier this year displayed skiing prowess during an official visit to Austria.

For the Record

Colonel General Leonid Ivashov has been dismissed from his post as head of the department of international military cooperation at the Defense Ministry. (MT)