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Aug. 11, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Russia says actions in Georgia almost over

TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Military operations in Georgia are nearly complete, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said Monday even as Russian airstrikes continued.

During a news briefing in Moscow, Deputy Chief of General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russia didn't intend "to invade Georgia" and a key element of the operation was keeping troops in breakaway republic South Ossetia, The Washington Post reported.

The European Commission Monday called on Russian military action in Georgia "to stop immediately." The United States also condemned Moscow's actions.

Georgia has been trying to suppress a separatist movement in the province, historically linked to Russia. Moscow moved tanks and troops into South Ossetia to counter the Georgian offensive.

The Georgian army retreated from South Ossetia Sunday.

Russians conducted airstrikes near Gori, Georgia, Monday, with bombs destroying an abandoned apartment building. The sound of aircraft prompted bodyguards to take protective action for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as they toured the destruction, the Post reported.

Kouchner, attempting to mediate an end to the conflict, said he wanted to visit Gori "to get a strong picture of what was going on." Saakashvili said he signed a cease-fire proposal offered by Kouchner, who travels to Moscow next.

Medvedev repeated charges of genocide by Georgian troops, the Post said

"The information we are receiving attests to the fact that crimes of the most serious kind have been committed: People have been murdered, burned, crushed by tanks, had their throats cut," he said, adding that evidence must be collected for possible criminal prosecution.


Saakashvili says war about Georgia' future

TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- The war in Georgia isn't about breakaway republic South Ossetia, but the independence and the future of Georgia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili wrote.

"No country of the former Soviet Union has made more progress toward consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and building an independent foreign policy than Georgia," Saakashvili wrote in an op-ed article appearing in Monday's The Wall Street Journal. "This conflict is therefore about our common trans-Atlantic values of liberty and democracy."

A Russian military official said operations in Georgia were nearly complete, even as air strikes continued deep in Georgia, The Washington Post reported.

During a news briefing in Moscow, Deputy Chief of General Staff Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russia didn't intend "to invade Georgia," and a key element of the operation was keeping troops inside breakaway republic South Ossetia, The Washington Post reported.

The European Commission Monday called on Russian military action in Georgia "to stop immediately." The United States also condemned Moscow's actions.

Russian planes also were heard flying over the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, CNN reported.

Russia's actions, coming after Georgia offered a cease-fire and pulled its troops out of South Ossetia, has caused international alarm. Two Western officials said it was possible Russia could try to destroy Georgia's armed forces or overthrow the pro-Western Saakashvili, The New York Times said.

"If Georgia falls, this will also mean the fall of the West in the entire former Soviet Union and beyond," he said.


Feds order bus line to stop operations

HOUSTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. officials ordered a company linked to a Texas bus crash in which 17 people died to cease operations because it posed an "imminent hazard."

The orders issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was against motor coach operations Angel Tours Inc.; Iguana Busmex Inc., and the two carriers' chief, Angel De La Torre, CNN reported. Authorities say De La Torre ran his bus fleet under the Iguana name after Angel Tours was ordered to cease operations in June.

The action follows Friday's bus crash, in which the driver of the bus apparently lost control of the vehicle, which smashed into a guardrail before landing in a gully near the Texas-Oklahoma state line. Seventeen people died and more than 30 of the other 54 passengers plus the driver were injured.

"Angel Tours and Iguana currently operate vehicles in a mechanically unsafe operating condition which, if operated, would pose an imminent hazard to the public," the orders said.

Also on Sunday, four people died when a bus taking more than 40 passengers to a casino overturned near Tunica, Miss., CNN reported.

Meanwhile, the Nevada Highway Patrol was investigating what caused a bus carrying employees of Primm, Nev., area casinos and businesses to crash Sunday, injuring 29 of its 33 passengers, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.


Police shooting sparks Montreal riot

MONTREAL, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Provincial police in Quebec, Canada, were investigating weekend racial riots that overtook a north Montreal neighborhood after a youth was shot dead by police.

Hundreds of riot police were deployed Sunday into early Monday as roving gangs of youths torched a fire station, cars and garbage containers, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The violence stemmed from the fatal police shooting Saturday of 18-year-old Honduran immigrant Freddy Villenueva, The Gazette newspaper said.

Two other youths were shot after they claimed a group of 20 youths began closing in on them as they were questioning Villenueva in a predominantly Haitian immigrant neighborhood, the newspaper said. The shots killed Villenueva while the other two youths were recovering in hospital, local media said.

In looting violence early Monday, two police officers were injured, one by a bullet to the leg, and a paramedic also was slightly hurt, CJAD-AM radio reported.


Clinton backers plan big DNC effort

DENVER, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Vocal backers of former U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton say they are planning rallies and television ads during the Democratic National Convention.

The moves are coming even as the Democratic senator from New York is negotiating with the party's likely nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., on a plan to unify the party and find a role for her delegates at the convention, The Hill reported Monday.

The Washington newspaper said a recently formed organization called the Denver Group has filmed a pro-Clinton television commercial and is planning to run it soon. The group says response to its planned Aug. 26 reception is so good that its has booked a second room in Denver to accommodate the attendees.

Another group called 18 Million Voices, alluding to the roughly 18 million votes Clinton received during the Democratic presidential primary elections, says it is organizing Aug. 26 marches in Denver "and nationwide to support Senator Clinton and advocate for women's rights worldwide," the group's Web site says.

The Hill said Clinton believes the Democrats should adopt a strategy of recognizing her delegates at the convention because it would lead to a more unified party.

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