Minister scoffs at injuries
Minister of Foreign Affairs Leonid Kozhara on Saturday dismissed the injuries sustained by a protester found covered in blood as “a scratch.” “Physically this man is in a good condition. The only thing he has is a scratch on one of his cheeks,” Kozhara told al-Jazeera television on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference. “It looks like the alleged story that he was kidnapped and tortured is not absolutely true,” he said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs later issued a statement saying that Kozhara had been misunderstood and he “is profoundly sorry for what happened to Dmytro Bulatov and wishes him a speedy recovery.” Bulatov said he was kidnapped by unidentified captors on Jan. 22 and released on Thursday after being tortured.
Japan upset by comics
Japan has expressed its “regret” at a South Korean exhibit at an international comic book festival in Angouleme featuring “comfort women” forced into wartime sex slavery in Japanese military brothels. Japanese Ambassador to France Yoichi Suzuki said he “deeply regrets that this exhibition is taking place,” saying it promoted “a mistaken point of view that further complicates relations between South Korea and Japan.” Franck Bondoux, director of the Angouleme International Comics Festival, said the subject was proposed by the South Korean government.
‘Death zoo’ loses two more
An endangered komodo dragon and a pregnant barking deer have been found dead at Surabaya Zoo, a spokesman said yesterday. Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said a seven-year-old giant lizard was found dead on Saturday in his cage, one day after the deer died. A visitor reported to a zookeeper that the deer was having convulsions and was foaming at the mouth. Supangkat denied any negligence, and said a police forensic team was performing autopsies. The zoo has long been plagued with problems, including premature deaths, uncontrolled breeding and a lack of funding. An online petition has called on the government to close the facility, dubbed “the zoo of death.”
Gay rights party formed
A new party that will defend gays and lesbians against violence and persecution will stand in elections this year, a spokesman said on Saturday. “We need a voice in parliament to protect women from being raped because people want to cure them from being lesbians,” Michael Herbst of the Equal Rights Party said. “We need someone in parliament when boys are bullied at school because they are thought to be gay… South Africa has one of the most beautiful constitutions that guarantees the rights of the people who are lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, et cetera. But in reality, it doesn’t work well.”
Visa overhaul planned
Tourists from up to 180 countries would no longer have to line up at their local consulates to obtain visas under reforms expected to be approved this week, the Indian Express reported yesterday. The nation’s intelligence agencies have now given their backing to proposals that would allow tourists to apply online and then wait only three days before receiving the green light, the newspaper reported. They would then be able to pick up their visas on arrival at any airport. Some countries such as Pakistan will not be included in the changes, the daily said.
Hagel calls nuclear officers