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The Star Online: World Updates


Russia's Putin polishes image in row over war hero

Posted: 11 May 2011 07:14 AM PDT

MOSCOW (Reuters Life!) - Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin reprimanded local officials on Wednesday for refusing state housing to a World War Two veteran who has lived for half a century in a dilapidated cabin without running water or heating.

Putin, who has still not said whether he will run for president in next March's presidential election, has been polishing his image ahead of the vote as a leader who is willing to stand up for the people against errant officials.

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attends the opening ceremony at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow April 27, 2011. (REUTERS/Grigory Dukor)

Vasiliy Zasorin, an 87-year-old veteran who was wounded several times in the war, sent a complaint to Putin and enclosed all the decorations he was awarded after local officials said he did not deserve to receive subsidised housing.

"Respected Vladimir Vladimirovich!... I, a disabled serviceman of the Great Patriotic War, return my combat awards to a motherland which has been turned into an evil stepmother by the so-called 'servants of the people,'" he wrote to Putin.

Putin telephoned Alexei Gordeyev, the governor of the Voronezh region, where Zasorin lives, to demand a detailed explanation, Russian internet news site www.life.ru quoted Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying. Local officials have begun a probe.

In 2008, President Dmitry Medvedev decreed that all World War Two veterans were entitled to state housing.

(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Paul Casciato)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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Iran letter does not justify new nuclear meeting - EU

Posted: 11 May 2011 07:14 AM PDT

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Iran's response to a letter from the European Union aimed at reviving talks on Tehran's nuclear programme contains nothing new and does not appear to justify another meeting, the bloc said on Wednesday.

"On its own, Mr Jalili's letter does not contain anything new and does not seem to justify a further meeting," said Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, referring to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator.

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a news conference in Istanbul May 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Murad Sezer)

"We are surprised to hear the Iranians talking about meetings. They have not been in touch with us with any proposals," she said. "We will be in touch with the Iranians with the aim of creating the basis to renew dialogue."

The United States and its allies say they suspect Iran is trying to develop atomic bombs under the cover of its declared civilian nuclear energy programme. Tehran says it needs nuclear power only to meet growing domestic demand for electricity.

Negotiations with Iran in Istanbul in January failed after Tehran rejected any notion of suspending uranium enrichment in exchange for trade and technology benefits, as called for by several U.N. Security Council resolutions passed since 2006.

In March, the six world powers that have taken part in the talks with Iran said "the door remains open" for dialogue but made clear Tehran must engage in good-faith negotiations to solve the eight-year dispute.

The Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, responded on Tuesday to a letter sent by Ashton three months ago aimed at getting Iran to commit to new talks.

He said the talks should be just and "refrain from resorting to pressure instruments", something analysts said indicated Tehran would stick to its refusal to address its uranium enrichment drive.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak, writng by David Brunnstrom; editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Copyright © 2011 Reuters

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