Briefs, October 4, 2012

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 4:43am

Besieged Saakashvili refuses to resign

TBILISI - Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's party yesterday rejected calls for him to resign following the stunning opposition election victory. The victory of the Georgian Dream coalition of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili in parliamentary polls will give Georgia a new government and may cool tensions with its top foe Russia, which cautiously welcomed the result. But the opposition leader has already called on the president to resign immediately, a demand that Saakashvili's party warned could cause confrontation. AFP


US charges alleged military-exports ring

NEW YORK - The United States announced criminal charges against 11 members of an alleged ring illegally exporting US$50 million worth of hi-tech military electronics to Russia under the guise of civilian deals. The alleged scheme ran between 2008 and the present, with defendants posing as civilian manufacturers via a Texas-based company called Arc Electronics. In reality, prosecutors said, the defendants were procuring high-tech products on behalf of the Russian military. AFP


Outrage in Philippines over cyber censorship

MANILA - The Philippine government faced a barrage of protests as a cybercrime law went into effect that critics say imposes repressive monitoring and policing of the internet. Main news outlets, bloggers and rights groups turned their social-media profile pages black to express outrage over the law. One provision makes libellous comments posted online a criminal offence, with a penalty of up to 12 years in jail, much tougher than for traditional media. Equally controversially, the Department of Justice also now has the power to close websites and monitor online activities, such as e-mail, instant messaging or video chats, without a warrant. AFP


Italian takes economy rage to new heights

VATICAN CITY - An Italian businessman perched perilously at the top of the 130-metre dome of St Peter's Basilica after scaling it to protest against austerity measures imposed on the recession-hit country. Marcello De Finizio, a businessman from Trieste in northern Italy, managed to slip past security guards at the Vatican on Tuesday night and hang up a banner saying: "Help! Enough Monti, Enough Europe ... do you call this growth?" AFP


Space station moves to avoid debris

MOSCOW - The Russian space programme's Mission Control Centre says it will move the International Space Station into a different orbit to avoid possible collision with a fragment of debris. Control Centre spokeswoman Nadyezhda Zavyalova said the Russian Zvevda module would fire booster rockets to carry out the operation today. There are six astronauts - three Russians, two Americans and one from Japan - on board the orbiting laboratory. AP


Serbian police ban gay pride march

BELGRADE - Serbia's police yesterday banned a gay pride march in Belgrade, citing security concerns but also complying with a request from the country's powerful Christian Orthodox church. Police said they were banning the march planned over the weekend because they feared a repeat of the violence in 2010, when right-wing groups attacked a similar event in the capital, triggering day-long clashes with the police that left more than 100 people injured. Last year's gay pride march also was banned by authorities. AP


Protesters call for prime minister to go

BISHKEK - Demonstrators clashed with police and tried to break into a building housing the parliament in Kyrgyzstan's capital during a rally to demand the resignation of the prime minister. Protesters also demanded the nationalisation of a controversial gold mine in the country's east. Critics have alleged that the Canadian firm Centerra Gold, which is developing the Kumtor mine, had used accounting tricks to reduce its tax liabilities. Kyrgyzstan hosts a US air base used to support operations in nearby Afghanistan. AP