Opposition lawmakers have warned that the new fines will only fuel broad outrage and destabilize Russia by depriving the public of a legal way to voice grievances. The bill raises fines for joining unsanctioned rallies from the current maximum of 5,000 rubles ($160) to 1,000,000 rubles ($32,250). Yet Putin defended the bill Wednesday, describing it as "strengthening democracy."
Aid team seized in Afghanistan
KABUL, Afghanistan - Two foreign women working for a Swiss-based aid group have been kidnapped in the remote northeastern province of Badakhshan, Afghan officials said Wednesday.
Three male Afghan colleagues were abducted as well, but one apparently escaped and then alerted the authorities, according to officials in Faizabad, the provincial capital.
The medical team was captured by a group of gunmen Tuesday while traveling by donkey or horseback in an isolated district where floods had washed out roads, and an intensive search was under way, said Abdul Mahrouf Rasikh, a spokesman for the provincial governor.
The provincial spokesman said the two foreign women were doctors, and that the Afghans included two translators and another colleague. He did not know the women's nationalities.
- Los Angeles Times
Glued-up bills foiled 2011 heist
LONDON - British authorities said Wednesday that three bandits were foiled when their attempt to pry open a stolen cash box ran up against a new security system that slathered the bills with glue.
The men were part of a gang that ambushed a cash delivery man working for security company G4S in south London on Jan. 16, 2011. The group stole his cash box but ran into trouble when they retreated to a parking lot to try to open it.
Gavin Windsor, a G4S director, said the company's cash boxes had recently been fitted with a new security system that coats the bills with glue - along with dye and a colorless, traceable liquid known as "smart water" - if it is tampered with. Police said in a statement that the suspects were spotted by a witness less than an hour after the robbery as they struggled to separate the glued-up bills.