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BC-AP--Europe News Digest, AP

February 28, 2014



SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen. By Ivan Sekretarev. SENT: 1,000 words, photos. UPCOMING: Yanukovych news conference scheduled for 1300 GMT.


GENEVA — Authorities in Switzerland announced Friday they have launched a corruption probe against Ukraine’s fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych and his son Aleksander, and blocked all the potential assets that might be hidden in the Alpine nation. The Geneva prosecutors’ office said in a statement that the criminal investigation concerned “aggravated money laundering.” SENT: 200 words.


KIRNI, Cyprus — Mehmet Eligon points to a yellow patch of grass on his sprawling farm to show how this year’s meager rains are drying up feed for his goats, sheep and Holstein cows. “Because of the drought this year, there’s no water in our wells and the crops are drying,” says the 49 year-old Turkish Cypriot wearing military-style fatigues — popular attire for farmers on both sides of Cyprus, split between ethnic Greek and Turkish camps. By Menelaos Hadjicostis. SENT: 1,300 words, photos.


ATHENS, Greece — Scuffles broke out Friday between demonstrators and police outside the finance ministry in central Athens, as Greece’s international debt inspectors met with ministers to discuss the pace of fiscal reforms. The demonstrators, mainly finance ministry cleaning ladies, school guards and municipal workers, were protesting job cuts required under Greece’s bailout agreement. They attempted to block a major avenue in the capital’s main Syntagma Square outside the ministry and jostled with riot police, who used small amounts of pepper spray. SENT: 300 words, photos.


BERLIN — A German court has ruled a 94-year-old man suspected of having been an SS guard at the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp is not fit for trial. The Ellwangen state court said Friday that Hans Lipschis is suffering from dementia and it would not be possible to try him on the 10,510 counts of accessory to murder he faced. SENT: 130 words.


MADRID — The body of world-renowned flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia has arrived in the Spanish capital where there will be a memorial ceremony before his wake and burial in his native southern town of Algeciras. De Lucia’s remains were flown in Friday from Mexico where he died of a heart attack while on vacation. He was 66. SENT: 130 words.


MOSCOW — A Moscow court has put Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny under house arrest, forbidding him from using the Internet or communicating with anyone outside his family. The house arrest is for two months but can be extended. SENT: 220 words.


MADRID — A Spanish official says more than 200 migrants have stormed a six-meter (20-foot)-high barbed wire border fence to enter Spain’s northwest African enclave of Melilla from Morocco — the second such crossing in a week. Carlos Montero, who runs a temporary accommodation center for migrants, told Spanish National Radio that the incident occurred Friday. He says the center, which was intended to house 500, now has 1,300 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa. SENT: 130 words.

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