RUSSIA – Tycoon punches fellow billionaire on TV

MOSCOW — Russian tycoon Alexander Lebedev punched a fellow billionaire on a television panel show after a discussion on the financial crisis degenerated into petty name-calling.

Mr. Lebedev, a former KGB operative and owner of two major newspapers in the United Kingdom, wrote on his blog that property developer Sergei Polonsky had earned the clobbering by behaving abusively throughout the recording of the program.

In a preview clip posted on the NTV channel’s website ahead of the show airing Sunday, Mr. Polonsky is seen saying that he sometimes felt like “bashing [Mr. Lebedev] in the face,” prompting the newspaper owner to jump to his feet.

After sitting back down, Mr. Lebedev then swiftly delivered a sucker punch, sending Mr. Polonsky tumbling to the ground.

Punch-ups and heated exchanges between guests are common on Russian political discussion shows.

LIECHTENSTEIN – Voters reject legalizing abortion

Balzers Castle, Lichtenstein

GENEVA — Voters in the tiny principality of Liechtenstein have rejected a proposal to legalize abortion after the country’s prince threatened to veto any change in the law.

Opponents won the referendum with a majority of just more than 500 votes.

The official count Sunday put no-votes at 52.3 percent, ahead of 47.7 percent who favored the plan to decriminalize abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy or if the child is severely disabled.

Hereditary [heir apparent] Prince Alois of Liechtenstein said in a speech last month that he would use his veto power to block decriminalization because he feared it could lead to late-term abortions of disabled children.

Backers of the change accused him of discouraging people from voting.

MALAYSIA:  Government warns against travel to southern Thailand

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia warned against nonessential travel to southern Thailand on Sunday, after four of Malaysians were killed in bomb attacks in the insurgency-plagued region.

Thai police have said militants may have deliberately targeted tourists in bombings near two hotels and a Chinese-Thai cultural center in a coordinated attack in Narathiwat province Friday night.

Malaysia’s foreign ministry issued a statement Sunday advising travelers to avoid southern Thailand until the security situation improves.

Those killed in the attacks included a 3-year-old boy, the ministry said. The bodies have been returned to Malaysia.

A seven-year rebellion in Thailand’s Muslim-majority south has left thousands dead.

About 4,800 people have been killed in near-daily attacks since early 2004, according to Deep South Watch, an independent research group that monitors the conflict in three southern provinces near the Malaysian border.

(The news briefs above are from wire reports and staff reports posted at: World Scene and Briefly: Europe on September 18th.)


1. For each of the 3 countries, give the following information:
a) location/the countries that share its borders
b) the religious breakdown of the population
c) the type of government
d) the chief of state (and head of government if different) [If monarch or dictator, since what date has he/she ruled? – include name of heir apparent for monarch] e) the population

[Find the answers at the CIA World FactBook website. For each country, answers can be found under the “Geography” “People” and “Government” headings.  Go to for a list of continents.]

2. For Russia:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  How did Mr. Lebedev defend his actions?
c)  Why might Russians NOT be shocked by the attack?

3. For Liechtenstein:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  Had the law been passed, what type of abortion would it have allowed?
c)  What do you think of the Prince’s reason for promising to veto the bill had it been passed?
d)  Supporters of the abortion law accused the Prince of causing people not to vote for the law because he would have vetoed it anyway.  Do you think most voters would have refrained from voting for this reason if they supported the passage of the law?  Explain your answer.

4. For Malaysia:
a)  list the who, what, where and when of the news item
b)  How many people have been killed in almost daily attacks in southern Thailand in the past 7 years?
c)  Who is most likely responsible for the killings?



Alexander Lebedev is a former KGB operative.  Per wikipedia: The KGB was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and its premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.


LIECHTENSTEIN: (from wikipedia)

  • The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east.
  • Its area is just over 62 sq mi, and it has an estimated population of 35,000.
  • Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan.
  • Liechtenstein has the second highest gross domestic product per person in the world, and has the world’s lowest external debt.
  • Liechtenstein is the smallest yet the richest (by measure of GDP per capita) German-speaking country in the world and the only country to lie entirely within the Alps.
  • It is the only predominantly German-speaking country not to share a common border with Germany and the only predominantly German-speaking nation to have a monarch.
  • It is known as a principality as it is a constitutional monarchy headed by a prince.
  • Much of its terrain is mountainous, making it a winter sports destination. Many cultivated fields and small farms characterize its landscape both in the south (Oberland, upper land) and in the north (Unterland, lower land).
  • The country has a strong financial sector located in the capital, Vaduz, and has been identified as a tax haven.



  • Ethnic Malay Muslims form the majority of the population in Thailand’s three southernmost provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, where an [Islamic] insurgency has killed nearly 4,800 people since 2006.
  • The ethnic Malay Muslims fight for autonomy from Thailand’s Buddhist majority in the region just a few hours by car from some of Thailand’s best-known tourist beaches.
  • Muslims in the area largely oppose the presence of tens of thousands of police, soldiers and state-armed Buddhist guards in the rubber-rich region, which was part of a Malay Muslim sultanate until annexed by Thailand a century ago.
  • The violence has ranged from drive-by shootings to bombings and beheadings.
  • It often targets Buddhists and Muslims associated with the Thai state, such as police, soldiers, government officials and teachers. (from and


RUSSIA:  Watch the video of Lebedev and Polonsky below:


LIECHTENSTEIN:  Read about Prince Alois at:,_Hereditary_Prince_of_Liechtenstein

Watch a news video on Prince Alois’ statement below:


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