Putin foes rally near old KGB

MOSCOW - Thousands of opposition supporters gathered Saturday outside the old KGB headquarters in central Moscow to mark a year of mass protests against Vladimir V. Putin and his government.

The turnout was far smaller than the tens of thousands who filled Moscow streets in protests that erupted after fraud-plagued parliamentary elections last December. But unlike most of those protests, Saturday's gathering was not authorized and those who came risked arrest and heavy fines.

Soon after Putin returned to the presidency in May, Russia passed a law raising the fine for participating in unauthorized rallies to the equivalent of $9,000, nearly the average annual salary.

Police dispersed the rally after 21/2 hours. Several prominent opposition figures were among dozens detained in the course of the gathering, but all were released. - AP

Nigerian crash kills governor

LAGOS, Nigeria - A navy helicopter crashed Saturday in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta, killing a state governor and five other people, in the latest air disaster to hit Africa's most populous nation, officials said.

Nigeria's presidency said in a statement that the governor of the central Nigerian state of Kaduna, Patrick Yakowa, died in the helicopter crash in Bayelsa state in the Niger Delta.

The former national security adviser, Gen. Andrew Azazi, also died in the crash, the statement said. Azazi was fired in June amid growing sectarian violence in Nigeria, but maintained close ties with the government. The other victims were aides to Yakowa and Azazi and the two helicopter pilots.

President Goodluck Jonathan's spokesman, Reuben Abati, said in a statement that their loss was "extremely painful to the entire nation." He said the president had ordered an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.

- AP

Mali's premier fills key posts

BAMAKO, Mali - Mali's interim prime minister who took office after soldiers behind a coup arrested his predecessor several days ago has chosen a new government, state television reported, with key posts going to people linked to the coup leader.

The political upheaval has raised new concerns about the ability of the Malian military to take part in a regional operation to retake the northern part of the country, which is now controlled by Islamist extremists who are carrying out public executions and amputations.

Interim Prime Minister Diango Cissoko's list was announced Saturday evening, days after he was chosen to replace Cheikh Modibo Diarra. The interim prime minister post was created as part of an attempt to return Mali to civilian rule following the coup. - AP