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World in brief

Chechnya approves constitution

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 25, 2003

VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia -- Russian officials said Monday the approval of a new constitution by Chechnya's voters has completely discredited the separatist cause, further dimming hopes the Kremlin would negotiate an end to the 31/2-year war.

The constitution, which confirms the region's status as part of Russia, was overwhelmingly approved in a referendum on Sunday. With ballots counted from 292 of 418 electoral districts, 96.1 percent of votes were in favor, Russia's Central Election Commission reported on its Web site. Only 2.6 percent voted no, the commission said.

"All those who have failed to lay down their arms so far are now fighting not only for their false ideals, but directly against their people," President Vladimir Putin told his Cabinet. "Their actions directly contradict the interests and will . . . of the Chechen people to live in peace."

TREATY POISED FOR PASSAGE: The Russian parliament's upper chamber plans to call today for the quick ratification of a U.S.-Russian nuclear arms treaty despite objections from the lower house because of the war in Iraq.

The foreign relations committee of the Federation Council, the upper house, decided Monday to make the move because of the treaty's value to Russia, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Palestinian teen killed; settlement torn down

JERUSALEM -- A Palestinian teenager was shot to death Monday during a clash with Israeli soldiers on the West Bank as troops searched houses on a routine sweep for militants. Three other youths were wounded, witnesses said.

Ahmed Abahreh, 15, was shot in the head, said doctors at Jenin Hospital in the West Bank. Witnesses said Abahreh was throwing stones at the soldiers. The army said he tossed a homemade firebomb at troops.

The skirmish came as troops dismantled an illegal Jewish settlement near the West Bank city of Hebron, the first such outpost taken down since Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's new hardline government took office last month.

Montesinos guilty in first of more than 60 trials

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Vladimiro Montesinos, the once-feared Peruvian spy chief accused of widespread corruption during the 10-year rule of President Alberto Fujimori, was convicted Monday in the Peruvian capital, Lima, in the first of more than 60 public trials he faces.

Montesinos, 57, was sentenced to more than five years in prison for having used his influence to help the brother of his former mistress, Jacqueline Beltran, to be released from jail.

Elsewhere . . .

111 DIE AS FERRY SINKS: An overloaded ferry traveling between rebel-held ports in eastern Congo sank over the weekend in Lake Tanganyika, killing 111 people, officials said Monday.

The M.V. Kashombwe sank late Saturday as it was en route from Kalemie to Uvira, said Emil Ngoy, head of territorial administration for the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy.

SHELL EVACUATES FROM NIGERIA: Oil giant Shell evacuated four oil facilities Monday, joining ChevronTexaco in a massive pullout from the Niger Delta, where ethnic violence has killed dozens of people and destroyed villages.

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