TOP STORIES IN EUROPE SO FAR ON THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014
BERLIN -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns Russia it risks "massive" political and economic consequences if it does not enter into "negotiations that achieve results" over the situation in Ukraine. In an address to Parliament, Merkel told lawmakers the only way out of the crisis is through diplomacy and assured them that "the use of the military is no option." By David Rising. SENT: 360 words.
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine -- Russia fever is everywhere in the streets of Crimea -- from the men who hawk Russian tricolor flags to drivers at traffic lights to the mini-vans that belt out patriotic songs to the World War II bunker that has become a drop-off point for people to donate blankets and canned food for armed militiamen who patrol the streets. For the ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars who are the minority in the strategic peninsula, it is fear that dominates. They fear separation from the homeland; they fear the loss of an identity that has always been vulnerable in Russian-dominated Crimea; and they fear outright attack from thugs who run around unchecked by the Kremlin-planted regional government. By Mike Eckel. SENT: 990 words, photos.
VIENNA -- Austrian authorities say they have arrested a wealthy Ukrainian businessman on an American warrant charging him with bribery and other offenses. The Federal Criminal Office said 48-year-old Dimitry F. was arrested Wednesday night in Vienna without incident and is now being held pending extradition proceedings. The agency said the FBI had been investigating the suspect since 2006. SENT: 130 words. Developing.
ISTANBUL -- Officials say two people have died amid clashes that erupted in Istanbul and other cities following the funeral of a teenager, who died nine months after being hit by a police tear-gas canister. The Istanbul Governor's office said a 22-year old man died in fighting between two groups of youths late on Wednesday, as police fired water cannons and tear gas to prevent crowds from reaching Istanbul's main square after the burial of 15-year old Berkin Elvan. SENT: 130 words.
LONDON -- Distant relatives of England's King Richard III are launching their High Court battle over where to rebury the 15th-century monarch's remains. The remains of Richard -- who was killed in battle in 1485 -- were found in a Leicester parking lot. SENT: 130 words.
BANJA LUKA, Bosnia-Herzegovina -- Bosnian police say the driver of a city bus was killed when a man threw a hand grenade into the vehicle as it stood at a bus stop in Banja Luka. Police spokeswoman Marija Markanovic said Thursday an investigation has been opened. The manager of the bus company, Dejan Mijic, said two more passengers were slightly injured.
VIENNA -- Austrian authorities say they have arrested a wealthy Ukrainian businessman on an American warrant charging him with bribery and other offenses. The Federal Criminal Office said 48-year-old Dimitry F. was arrested Wednesday night in Vienna without incident and is now being held pending extradition proceedings. The agency said the FBI had been investigating the suspect since 2006.
BUSINESS AND FINANCE
LONDON -- Further disappointing Chinese economic figures kept market sentiment in check Thursday, after a volatile week that has been dominated by concerns over the world's number 2 economy. Markets largely brushed aside the move by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to raise its main interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 percent. Though other central banks have raised rates since the global financial crisis of 2008, such as increases in 2011 by the European Central Bank and Sweden's Riksbank, analysts said the move by the New Zealand central bank may represent a milestone in the global recovery. By Pan Pylas. SENT: 470 words.
AMSTERDAM -- Shell's Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden says the company will cut capital spending in the U.S. by 20 percent in 2014 after setbacks in its shale gas operations and in Alaska. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Van Beurden said Thursday that Shell plans to exit its investments in the Eagle Ford shale formations in Southern Texas, where the company took a $2.1 billion write-down last summer. Van Beurden didn't rule out further charges. SENT: 130 words; UPCOMING 300 words by 1430 GMT.
FRANKFURT, Germany -- German automaker Volkswagen gave a cautious outlook for the year ahead Thursday after announcing a modest rise in 2013 earnings. The company warned of a "difficult market environment" with tough competition and sharp ups and downs in exchange rates and prices for raw materials. By David Mchugh. SENT: 330 words.
PARIS -- A grouping of the world's most developed countries says it's provisionally halting accession talks with Russia in a move many will see as a direct response to the country's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which promotes good governance and economic policy initiatives among its 34 mainly rich world members, says it has "postponed activities related to the accession process" with Russia "for the time being." No explanation for the decision was provided in the statement Thursday. SENT: 130 words.
MUNICH -- Prosecutors are asking for more than five years in prison for Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness, who has admitted to evading millions of euros (dollars) in taxes. The 62-year-old Hoeness was charged with dodging 3.5 million euros ($4.85 million) in taxes, but when his trial opened Monday he admitted avoiding 15 million euros more. Then it came out through an examination of documents he provided to investigators shortly before the trial that he owed 27.2 million euros in total -- a number Hoeness did not dispute. SENT: 130 words.