BC-Europe News Digest at 1915 GMT


Associated Press

Posted on December 29, 2012 at 1:30 PM



MOSCOW — Timur Bulgakov has a black belt in karate, two university degrees, a powerful SUV and a small yet thriving construction company. The 28-year-old's success is impressive for a Muslim migrant from Uzbekistan whose first job in Moscow 10 years ago was as a delivery boy. But his story is no longer that unusual. The old Moscow, populated largely by Slavs, is rapidly giving way to a multi-ethnic city where Muslims from Central Asia are the fastest growing sector of the population. And they are changing the face of Moscow as their numbers rise and they move up the career ladder, taking on more visible roles in society. Formats: Text, Photos.



MOSCOW — Russia's foreign minister said Saturday that Syrian President Bashar Assad has no intention of stepping down and it would be impossible to try to persuade him otherwise. After a meeting with Lakhdar Brahimi, the U.N.'s envoy for the Syrian crisis, Lavrov also said that the Syrian opposition risks sacrificing many more lives if it continues to insist on Assad leaving office as a precondition for holding talks on Syria's future. By Vladimir Isachenkov.

AP Photos XIAS106-1229121212, XIAS105-1229121212, XIAS104-1229121212, XIAS103-1229121212, XIAS106-1229121212, XIAS102-1229121211, XIAS101-1229121203, XIAS107-1229121213.


MOSCOW — A passenger airliner careered off the runway at Russia's third-busiest airport and partly onto a highway while landing on Saturday, broke into pieces and caught fire, killing at least four people. Officials said there were eight people aboard the Tu-204 belonging to Russian airline Red Wings that was flying back from the Czech Republic without passengers to its home at Vnukovo Airport. By Jim Heintz.

AP Photos MOSB101-1229121855, MOSB105-1229121835, MOSB102-1229121829, MOSB106-1229121837, MOSB107-1229121841, MOSB108-1229121841, MOSB104-1229121826.


PARIS — Embattled French President Francois Hollande suffered a fresh setback Saturday when France's highest court threw out a plan to tax the ultrawealthy at a 75 percent rate, saying it was unfair. In a stinging rebuke to one of Socialist Hollande's flagship campaign promises, the constitutional council ruled Saturday that the way the highly contentious tax was designed was unconstitutional. It was intended to hit incomes over €1 million ($1.32 million).


LONDON — Stella McCartney, who designed the uniforms worn by Britain's record-smashing Olympic team, and Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, who gave his name to the so-called "God particle," are among the hundreds being honored by Queen Elizabeth II this New Year. The list is particularly heavy with Britain's Olympic heroes, but it also includes "Star Wars" actor Ewan McGregor, eccentric English singer Kate Bush, Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake, and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the royal aide who helped organize the watched-around-the-world wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. By Raphael Satter.


ROME — Ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi has sharply criticized the decision by Mario Monti to run in Italy's general elections and has vowed to launch a parliamentary inquiry into the 2011 fall of Berlusconi's last government and the appointment of Monti as Italy's premier.


MADRID — A Spaniard sentenced in Cuba to prison for the death of a prominent dissident arrived back in Spain on Saturday to serve the rest of his four-year term after an agreement between the two governments. Angel Carromero Barrios, a Spanish regional political youth leader, lost control of his car and crashed on July 22, killing passengers Oswaldo Paya and Harold Cepero. Paya was a well-known opponent of the Cuban government and Cepero was also a dissident. By Harold Heckle.



LA PAZ, Bolivia — President Evo Morales nationalizes electricity distribution subsidiaries of the Spanish energy company Iberdrola in a public ceremony. Morales issues a decree allowing the takeover of shares in Empresa de Electricidad de La Paz (Electropaz) and Empresa de Luz y Fuerza de Oruro (Elfeo), which supply energy in the Andean nation. AP Photos.


STOCKHOLM — A top executive at Scandinavia's tri-nation airline SAS says the carrier was only days away from bankruptcy, should last month's brutal savings plan not have been approved by the company's pilot and cabin crews. In an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter on Saturday, Deputy Chairman Jacob Wallenberg says the company had cash left for only another 10 days when it announced an annual $3 billion kronor ($460) cost-cutting plan in November.


SKOPJE, Macedonia — Several thousand supporters of the leftist opposition, led by Social Democrat leader and former Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski, have staged a demonstration in front of the ruling party's headquarters to protest violence that erupted during a parliamentary debate over the budget. Macedonia's parliament approved the budget on Monday amid clashes outside Parliament between rival groups of protesters that left 11 police officers and at least 3 opposition lawmakers injured. Opposition deputies and journalists were expelled from parliament ahead of the vote.

AP Photos XBG103-1229120000, XBG102-1229120000, XBG101-1229120000.