Blasts kill at least 17 in Baghdad - police, medics
BAGHDAD Three blasts killed at least 17 people and wounded more than 50 in predominantly Shi'ite Muslim districts of Baghdad on Tuesday, police and medical sources said.
BRUSSELS The European Union's foreign policy chief called on Russia to reconsider its decision to designate the major independent pollster the Levada Centre a "foreign agent", a spokeswoman said in a note on Tuesday.
The Russian Justice Ministry said on Monday it had included Levada in the list of foreign agents, a term describing organisations seen by Russia as engaging in political activities on behalf of foreign powers.
A spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was concerned by the move, particularly as it came just two weeks ahead of nationwide parliamentary elections.
"We call once again on the Russian authorities to reconsider their decisions on branding Russian non-governmental organisations as 'foreign agents', which is clearly aimed at restricting their independence and threatening their very existence," the spokeswoman said in a note.
There are now 141 organisations Russia labels as foreign agents, the EU note said.
Levada is the most respected of Russia's three main pollsters. While it routinely reports Vladimir Putin's approval ratings in excess of 80 percent, it is widely seen as more independent than its state-run competitors, VTsIOM and FOM.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Hugh Lawson)
THE HAGUE War crimes judges on Tuesday sentenced a former Islamist rebel who admitted wrecking holy shrines during Mali's 2012 conflict to nine years in prison, in the first such case to focus on destruction of cultural heritage.
BAKU Azerbaijan has voted in favour of extending the presidential term from five to seven years, election authorities said on Tuesday, a step that critics say will hand unprecedented powers to President Ilham Aliyev who has led the country since 2003.