Putin foe faces 6 years in jail
MOSCOW -- In closing arguments Friday, prosecutors urged a Russian judge to convict political opposition leader Alexei A. Navalny of embezzlement and sentence him to six years in jail -- a verdict that would destroy his political career and eliminate him as a threat to President Vladimir Putin by imprisoning him until after the next presidential election.
Mr. Navalny, the most prominent opposition figure in modern Russia to face prosecution, has accused the Kremlin of pursuing trumped-up charges as political retribution. While denying the allegations, he has long said that he expects to be convicted in the trial, which is being streamed live online from Kirov, a regional capital. The verdict is to be delivered July 18.
Mr. Navalny has declared his candidacy for mayor of Moscow in an election to be held in September, but he has also said he hopes one day to be president. If Mr. Navalny, 37, is convicted of criminal charges, he will be barred from seeking office.
Snowden offered asylum
MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- The presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela offered Friday to grant asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden, one day after leftist South American leaders denounced the rerouting of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane over Europe amid reports that the American was aboard.
Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela made their offers during separate speeches in their home countries Friday afternoon. Mr. Snowden has asked for asylum in numerous countries, including Nicaragua and Venezuela.
Spain on Friday said it had been warned along with other European countries that Mr. Snowden was aboard the Bolivian plane, an acknowledgement that the manhunt had something to do with the plane's unexpected diversion to Austria.
'Green' energy gaining
FRANKFURT, Germany -- Germany's $710 billion green-energy drive is cutting production at nuclear reactors, the nation's most profitable large-scale plants, as power prices slump to a six-year low.
The proportion of hours during which electricity traded at less than 30 euros ($39) a megawatt-hour, the level at which UBS AG says reactors start losing money, rose to 50 percent last month, the most since 2007 and 92 percent more than a year ago, data from the Epex Spot SE exchange show. RWE AG cut output at its Gundremmingen plant near Munich 31 times in the first half as solar and wind output jumped, compared with 18 times in 2012, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The reductions, which typically last for hours at a time, underscore how Chancellor Angela Merkel's plan to replace atomic power with renewable energy within a decade is gaining ground at the expense of profit at utilities.
Mandela family feud
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The family of former South African President Nelson Mandela is now engulfed by an acrimonious feud, even as the elder statesman lies critically ill.
The bitterness spilled out Thursday as Mandla Mandela, a grandson of Nelson Mandela, accused a half brother, Mbuso, impregnating Mandla's wife; called another brother, Ndaba, illegitimate; and said Nelson Mandela's eldest daughter, Makaziwe, was sowing "divisions and destruction" in the family.
His assertions followed accusations this week by Ndaba Mandela that Mandla was illegitimate, an apparent effort to topple him as chief as the family battles over future use of the famous Mandela name.