In a pomp-filled ceremony in Moscow, new Russian President Dmitri Medvedev accepted his oath of office, bringing to an end eight years of rule by Vladimir Putin. But less than three hours later, Medvedev nominated his predecessor for the post of prime minister, reinforcing the view of some analysts that he'll exert little independence in his new office. In his acceptance speech, Medvedev said his top priorities would be to ensure "civil and economic freedom" and to strengthen Russia's role in international affairs.
Both major political parties in Zimbabwe challenged results of the March 29 vote for seats in Parliament, opening a new front in their bitter dispute. Official tallies had given the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) control of the legislature for the first time, a determination that appeared to be upheld by a partial recount last month. But President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF movement filed petitions claiming irregularities in 53 races. The MDC countered by challenging 52 races. The moves do not affect the election for president, which also is disputed.
A general strike in Lebanon's capital for a higher minimum wage turned violent Wednesday, with supporters of Hizbullah trading gunfire with those of the anti-Syrian government. Early reports mentioned no casualties, but the Hizbullah forces were blocking access to the airport and sections of Beirut with burning cars and other obstacles. Army units were deployed, but only to keep the sides apart.
Without explanation, China's government notified a prestigious union of anthropologists that it may not hold its scheduled international congress this summer in Beijing. A letter said only that "complex difficulties" had made the gathering "impossible." A reported 6,354 people were registered to attend the meetings less than a month before the Olympic Summer Games. China has imposed a massive security campaign to ensure that the Games are free from any type of protest or disorder. A popular music festival in Beijing scheduled for this month also was canceled, and President Hu Jintao warned the Dalai Lama Wednesday to "stop undermining the Olympics."
Former paramilitary chief Carlos Jimenez was extradited to the US by Colombia's government Wednesday, a move believed to be the first involving right-wingers alleged to be active in drug trafficking. Colombia's paramilitaries have been demobilizing in recent years, partially in exchange for an agreement that they not be extradited. But Jimenez is accused of violating the accord by commissioning new crimes from his prison cell.
What may be the Argentine government's final proposal to farmers in their dispute over unpopular tax increases was to be presented Wednesday. But there were signs that if the latter rejects it, a new wave of protests would follow. A spokesman for the farmers told Bloomberg.com that they were "on the edge of the highways," ready to resume blockades that keep grain exports from reaching shipping terminals unless the levies are rescinded. Farm federation chief Eduardo Buzzi claimed the government had admitted the tax hikes "are a problem" and was willing to "modify" them. But he was swiftly contradicted by a senior aide to President Cristina Fernandez.
One of the most prestigious awards in Spanish-language journalism was to be presented Wednesday to a Cuban blogger whose criticism of her government attracts more than 1 million "hits" a month on her website. Yoani Sanchez was announced as a recipient of the Ortega y Gasset Prize by El Pais, Spain's largest-selling newspaper. Cuban authorities have made no sustained effort to shut down her blog, but she wasn't expected to attend the presentation in Madrid because her request for an exit visa was "under review."