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-AP European News Digest at 1200 GMT, AP

-AP European News Digest at 1200 GMT, AP



MOSCOW -- Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is a leading foe of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was found guilty of fraud and given a suspended sentence of three and a half years on Tuesday, while his brother was sent to prison. The verdict was scheduled for next month, but the court session was abruptly moved forward to the day before New Year's Eve, the main holiday in Russia, leading to speculation that authorities wanted to head off protests. More than 30,000 had previously signed up on Facebook to rally outside the Kremlin to protest what they called an unlawful trial. SENT: 800 words, photos. By Nataliya Vasilyeva.


TIRANA, Albania -- Two Albanian tugboat sailors died Tuesday during operations to secure a Greek ferry adrift for three days since a fire broke out on a car deck, with 10 people killed in the ensuing chaos. The sailors were apparently hit by a line that they had been trying to attach to the crippled, fire-blackened Norman Atlantic, said Dionis Dulaj, the police spokesman in the Albanian port town of Vlore, closest to where the 186-meter (610-foot) -long ferry has been drifting. SENT: 350 words, photos. UPCOMING: 500 words by 1500 GMT. By Llazar Semini and Colleen Barry.


BARI, Italy -- Rain and wind lashed the deck of the burning ferry tossing in the Adriatic Sea, and passengers were fighting for the last places on the only lifeboat. Natasha and Nassos Tsonas stood with their two sons amid the chaos, and the only thing left seemed to say goodbye. They hugged. I love you, they told one another. And they prayed for a miracle to get them off the Norman Atlantic alive. UPCOMING: 1,000 words by 1400 GMT. By Joji Sakurai and Andrea Rosa.


LONDON -- A British health care worker who contracted the Ebola virus in West Africa has been transferred from Scotland to an isolation unit in London for specialist treatment. The woman arrived at the Royal Free Hospital in north London on Tuesday. She was transferred from Glasgow on a military plane in a quarantine tent. SENT: 270 words, photos.


MADRID -- A famed Madrid toy store that has sold handmade dolls since 1942 is closing its doors and the 100-year-old marble bar at the Cafe Galdos live music venue will be wiped down for the last time as Spain prepares for a wave of small business shutdowns. It's happening because of a law passed two decades ago marking Jan. 1 as the end of rent controls that benefited business owners and helped preserve the historical commercial identity of many Spanish city centers. UPCOMING: 400 words, photos by 1400 GMT. By Jorge Sainz,


LONDON -- Luise Rainer, a star of cinema's golden era who won back-to-back Oscars but then walked away from a glittering Hollywood career, has died. She was 104. Rainer, whose roles ranged from the 1930s German stage to television's "The Love Boat," died Tuesday at her home in London from pneumonia, said her only daughter, Francesca Knittel-Bowyer. SENT: 800 words, photos. By Jill Lawless.


LONDON -- Newly released official papers show that former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government considered rebuilding Britain's chemical weapons arsenal in the face of a Soviet threat in the early 1980s. The formerly secret documents show that Thatcher's defense chiefs were worried that Britain had no response to a possible Soviet chemical attack except to retaliate with nuclear weapons. SENT: 400 words, photos. By Gregory Katz.


ATHENS, Greece -- The credit rating agency Fitch has warned that prolonged political uncertainty in Greece could hurt the country's sovereign rating, after a snap general election was called for Jan. 25. The agency said Tuesday it is unclear whether any single party would be able to form a government alone, a stalemate that would "increase the risks to Greece's creditworthiness." It also cited risks of further delays to bailout negotiations and a potential drop in bank deposits. SENT: 130 words, photos.


LONDON -- He was one spy who left many others out in the cold. Declassified British government files reveal how the 1985 defection of a senior KGB agent set off a domino-chain of diplomatic retribution that officials feared could collapse relations with the Soviet Union just as the Cold War was beginning to thaw. SENT: 430 words, photos. By Jill Lawless.