Moscow, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says he believes Russians and Ukrainians constitute one nation and that the countries should find a way to integrate.
Putin made the comments in an interview with the American film director Oliver Stone on June 19; material from the interview was used in a Stone film about Ukraine and the full transcript was published by the Kremlin on Friday.
"I believe that Russians and Ukrainians are one people ... one nation, in fact," Putin said. "When these lands that are now the core of Ukraine joined Russia ... nobody thought of themselves as anything but Russians."
In light of this bond, Putin said "we can use this as our competitive advantage during some form of integration."
Madrid, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — The No. 2 in Spain's Socialist Party says she is optimistic caretaker Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will strike a last-minute deal with the far-left United We Can party to form a coalition government before next week's confidence vote.
Adriana Lastra, the Socialist Party's vice general secretary, said Saturday that she was "convinced" an agreement will be reached.
The Socialists had said negotiations with United We Can were going nowhere until its leader, Pablo Iglesias, ceded on Friday to their demand to not seek a seat in the Cabinet.
Sánchez would still need other parties' support for an absolute majority of the 350-member Parliament on Tuesday.
If he fails, another vote would take place Thursday where the bar is lower and Sánchez would just need more "Yes" than "No" votes.
Hong Kong, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — Police in Hong Kong raided a homemade-explosives manufacturing lab ahead of another weekend of protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
Banners voicing opposition to an extradition bill that has sparked more than a month of demonstrations were found at the lab, according to Hong Kong media reports. Police said the investigation was continuing and that they had not found concrete evidence linking the explosives-making to a major protest march planned for Sunday.
Police said they found about 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of TATP, or tri-acetone tri-peroxide, in the late Friday night raid.
Alick McWhirter, a senior bomb disposal officer, said the homemade explosive is very unstable and extremely powerful. One kilogram was detonated Saturday morning.
Public broadcaster RTHK said a 27-year-old man was arrested. Police said more arrests may follow.
Police have erected huge barricades near government headquarters in preparation for Sunday's march. Earlier protests have often ended with police clashing with groups of protesters who try to occupy streets or refuse to disperse after the demonstration is over.
A counter-rally in support of the police was held Saturday evening. Thousands of people under umbrellas and overcast skies filled a park in central Hong Kong. A giant screen behind a stage for speakers read "Safeguard Hong Kong."
Many wore white, heeding a call by organizers, and did not wear masks or helmets, RTHK said.
Many of the anti-extradition law activists wear black and don protective gear against police pepper spray and batons.
New Delhi, Jul 20 (UNB) - Former chief minister of Delhi and senior Congress leader Sheila Dikshit passed away in Delhi on Saturday at the age of 81 years, reports The Times of India.
Dikshit was unwell for some time and was admitted to a private hospital.
Dikshit served as the chief minister of Delhi for three terms from 1998 to 2013. She was the longest serving chief minister of Delhi.
In the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, under her leadership, the Congress party managed to push AAP candidates on the third place in five of the seven seats in Delhi, besides registering growth in its vote share.
In January this year, the three-time former Delhi chief minister was appointed president of the city unit after the incumbent Ajay Maken stepped down citing health issues.
Despite being an octagenarian, Dikshit led the party in Lok Sabha polls and herself contested against Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari from the North East Delhi seat. She lost by over 3.66 lakh votes.
President Ram Nath Kovind extended his condolences to the family of the Congress leader and said that her term was a period of momentous transformation for the capital.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was one of the first political leaders to extend his condolences.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the party has lost a beloved daughter.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the demise of Dikshit a huge loss for the city.
Belgrade, Jul 20 (AP/UNB) — Serbia's president says the decision by Kosovo's prime minister to step down over a call for questioning by a Hague-based court investigating crimes against ethnic Serbs during and after the country's 1998-99 war is a "political trick."
Aleksandar Vucic said Saturday that Ramush Haradinaj's resignation was designed to rally popular support. He insisted it could fuel ethnic tensions and further stall efforts to relaunch talks on normalizing relations between the former war foes.
Haradinaj announced his resignation on Friday saying he does not want to appear before the court as prime minister. Haradinaj was a top ethnic Albanian rebel commander during the conflict.
A former Serbian province, Kosovo declared independence in 2008 which Belgrade does not recognize. The EU-mediated talks stalled last year over Kosovo's taxes on Serbian goods.