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Baltics mull joint TV channel to counter Kremlin's line

Europe's Baltic states are in talks to set up their own Russian-language television channel in a bid to counter the deluge of propaganda aimed at their ethnic Russian populations by Moscow-backed media. Numerous Russian-language media outlets already exist in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania but most emanate from Russia and toe its line on politics and history -- sensitive issues in a region that endured half a century of Soviet occupation.

Latvia joins Lithuania in temporary ban against Russian TV broadcasts for 'biased' reporting

VILNIUS, Lithuania - Latvia is joining Lithuania in banning Russian state television broadcasts because it found that several programs about the Ukraine crisis were tendentious and not in the Baltic nation's security interests. A three-month suspension of broadcasts of all Rossiya RTR's programs begins April 8, following a decision by the Latvian National Electronic Mass Media Council, the watchdog's spokeswoman Sanita Blomniece told The Associated Press on Monday.

Biden warns Russia on 'dark path' to isolation

By Roberta Rampton VILNIUS (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden reassured the leaders of Lithuania and Latvia that the United States would defend any NATO members against aggression and warned that Russia was on a "dark path" to isolation over its actions in Ukraine. Biden was in the capital of Lithuania, part of a quick trip to reassure Baltic allies worried about what an emboldened, aggressive Russia might mean for their nations. Lithuania, along with Estonia and Latvia, are NATO members.

Biden meets Baltic leaders, pledges support

By Roberta Rampton VILNIUS (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden met with leaders of Lithuania and Latvia on Wednesday, part of a quick trip to reassure Baltic allies worried about what an emboldened, aggressive Russia might mean for their nations. The nations have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin for moving to annex Ukraine's Crimea, and the White House has said it is preparing a fresh round of sanctions in response.

Syria migrant jailed for fleeing Malta

A Syrian migrant who survived the tragedy in Lampedusa in October 2013 was jailed for six months Wednesday after he fled Malta illegally. Omar Younes, 23, managed to flee Malta illegally on a boat and made it to The Netherlands where he was detained and sent back to Malta. He was one of the 200 migrants who survived the shipwreck 60 nautical miles south of Lampedusa on October 12. An estimated 200 migrants are believed to have perished in the tragedy. Of the surviving migrants, 143 were taken to Malta while 56 were taken to Lampedusa.

Baltic states can count on NATO and EU, says Germany

Three ex-Soviet Baltic states can count on the security provided by their membership of NATO and the EU, Germany said Tuesday amid East-West tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. "I am here to say that the Baltic states will not be left alone. This is a joint problem for NATO and the EU," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Tallinn, Estonia, ahead of talks in neighbouring Latvia and Lithuania. bur-mas/lc

Obama reassures Baltic leaders on NATO defense amid Ukraine tensions

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama, speaking to Baltic leaders on Saturday amid rising tensions in Ukraine, told them that the United States supports them and is committed to its NATO defense commitments, the White House said. "The President reaffirmed the United States' unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for the security and democracy of our Baltic allies," the White House said in a statement about the telephone call Obama held.

Italy culture cuts 'disturbing'

Culture budgets in Italy have been drastically cut back in recent years, with spending on upkeep of monuments falling by more than half since 2008, a damning report said on Monday. The Federculture association's report said the cash-strapped city of Rome had reduced spending on culture to 2.23 percent of its budget in 2012 from 4.33 percent in 2002 and would cut transfers further by up to 50 percent this year. The national state budget for the culture ministry was also being reduced to 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) a year for 2014-2016 from 1.5 billion euros in 2013.

Latvia adopts euro, becoming 18th eurozone member

Latvia officially adopted the euro at the stroke of midnight local time, making the former Soviet state of two million people the 18th member of the crisis-hit eurozone. As a huge firework display roared in Riga, the people of the Baltic state bade a reluctant farewell to their cherished lat -- seen as a symbol of independence from the Soviet Union -- to switch to the troubled European single currency. mjc-mas/ric

Latvia becomes 18th eurozone country

Latvia became the 18th eurozone country Wednesday in a manner to help the eurozone restore confidence after being pushed to the brink of collapse on the sovereign debt crisis. Its joining the eurozone has a political effect that demonstrates the euro as still attractive even after the crisis, an analyst said.
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