Putin lands big fish
Russian President Vladimir Putin landed a pike weighing 21kg on a recent weekend trip to Siberia, the Kremlin said on Friday, in the latest leisure stunt by the Russian strongman. The Kremlin said that Putin was joined on the trip by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a clear bid to prove Russia’s top two remain unified despite reports of growing strains. State television showed Putin laughing in astonishment as he pulled the massive pike out of the water, with the fish then being kissed on its gills by the Kremlin chief. “It was very interesting relaxation. Putin and Medvedev socialized very warmly, talked and went swimming,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state ITAR-TASS news agency. Several pictures published by the Kremlin also showed Putin fishing in his now traditional summer pose of naked torso and dark sunglasses. The television pictures did not show Medvedev doing any fishing, but instead standing on the bow of a motorboat taking pictures with a telephoto lens. Peskov said the “very beautiful” pictures taken by Medvedev had now been put on the Kremlin Web site.
Bird cleared of spying
Authorities detained a bird on suspicion it was spying for Israel, but freed it after X-rays showed it was not embedded with surveillance equipment, newspapers said on Friday. The kestrel aroused suspicion because of a metal ring on its foot carrying the words “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel,” prompting residents in the village of Altinayva to hand it over to the local governor. The bird was put in an X-ray machine at a university hospital to check for microchips or bugging devices, according to the Milliyet newspaper, which carried a front-page image of the radiogram with the title “Israeli agent.”
‘Pink Panther’ escapes
A Bosnian from the “Pink Panther” gang of international jewel thieves escaped from a Swiss prison in a dramatic break-out involving a fellow inmate and two armed accomplices, police said on Friday. Milan Poparic, who was serving a sentence of almost seven years for a 2009 robbery at a jewelry store, is the third “Pink Panther” to escape from a Swiss prison since May. Along with convicted kidnapper, arsonist and money-launderer Adrian Albrecht, Poparic broke out of the Orbe prison in western Switzerland on Thursday evening, local police said. During an exercise period, the accomplices rammed a gate and barbed wire with a van, before using ladders to escape. They made off with Poparic and Albrecht in a second vehicle.
Tutu slams homophobia
South African peace icon Desmond Tutu on Friday said he would rather go to hell than worship a homophobic God. “I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean I would much rather go to the other place,” the retired archbishop said at the launch of a UN gay equality campaign in Cape Town. “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this,” he said, condemning the use of religious justification for anti-gay prejudice. Launched by the UN Human Rights Office, the public education campaign “Free and Equal” aims to raise awareness of anti-gay violence and discrimination. Tutu compared the project to the fight to end apartheid, a struggle in which he played a pivotal role. “I am as passionate about this campaign as I ever was about apartheid,” he said.