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Gorbachev seeks Soviet-era museum

MOSCOW - Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev yesterday urged the creation of a national museum and memorial to honor victims of Soviet-era repression and to document their demise.

The call by the leader whose "glasnost" campaign bared grisly details of Josef Stalin's terror presents a challenge to the current Russian government, which critics say has glossed over the crimes of its predecessors to justify its own retreat from democracy. In a statement signed by other human rights activists, Gorbachev expressed alarm over efforts to cast Stalin as a "brilliant manager" rather than a murderous autocrat.

Vladimir Putin, who was president and is now prime minister, said last year that no one should try to make Russia feel guilty about Stalin's "Great Terror," and a teacher's manual published during Putin's presidency suggested Stalin's actions were justified by the need to modernize the economy.

- AP

Bangladesh arrests thousands

DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh's military-led security forces said yesterday they had detained more than 10,000 people in a nationwide anti-crime drive over the past week, but political parties accused the government of targeting their members in a political crackdown.

Police Chief Nur Mohammad said the drive was launched to improve law and order before national elections late this year. The detainees have been accused of crimes such as murder, muggings and violation of emergency rules, he said.

Syed Ashraful Islam, spokesman for the Awami League, said the government was "targeting political activists in the name of an anti-crime drive." The Bangladesh Nationalist Party also denounced the drive. A spokesman said "fabricated charges" are being filed against party activists to keep them from campaign activity.

- AP

Fishermen clash over fuel prices

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Riot police armed with shields and batons charged hundreds of protesting fishermen outside European Union headquarters yesterday after a demonstration over high fuel prices turned violent.

The protesters, from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, hurled flares, firecrackers and rocks at police beyond razor-wire barricades. They also fired flare guns at the EU headquarters building. As they retreated down the main boulevard through Brussels' European Union district, they broke into EU buildings, smashing windows and dragging out flags and other items to burn in the street.

Fishermen, truck drivers and farmers across Europe have protested in recent weeks to demand government aid to help compensate for high fuel costs, which they say are threatening their livelihoods.

- AP


Police in Iceland

said they fatally shot the first polar bear seen in the country in 20 years after the animal threatened people. Police in northern Iceland shot the bear Tuesday after determining that the drugs used to sedate the animal were unavailable and that a gun that could be used to fire them was elsewhere in the country.