Russia

Greenpeace charges closed

Russian investigators have dropped charges against all but one of the 30 crew of a Greenpeace ship, who were accused of hooliganism following a protest outside a Russian oil rig in the Arctic, the group said Wednesday. Cristian d’Alessandro of Italy failed to get his case closed due to the lack of an interpreter and will have to visit the St. Petersburg branch of Russia’s Investigative Committee today, said Violetta Ryabko, a Greenpeace spokeswoman. Criminal charges against the crew were closed under an amnesty passed by the parliament this month. Ryabko said foreign members of the crew expect to get exit visas in the next few days.

Ukraine

Activist is beaten

A prominent civic activist and journalist was brutally beaten outside Kiev Wednesday, the latest in a string of attacks on activists and opposition members amid weeks of protests calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Cabinet. Hundreds of journalists and opposition activists gathered outside the Interior Ministry headquarters in Kiev on Wednesday, demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko after the attack on Tetyana Chernovil. Some held pictures of Chernovil, who has also been one of the leaders of mass demonstrations that have rocked the capital for more than a month since Yanukovych decided to scrap a deal with the EU in favor of forging stronger ties with Russia.

BRAZIL

Flooding death toll rises

Civil defense officials said the death toll in the floods and mudslides caused by heavy downpours in two states in southeastern Brazil has risen to 32. More than 50,000 have been forced to leave their homes. The civil defense department of Minas Gerais state Wednesday said on its website that 17 people died in floodwaters or mudslides. It said about 4,000 people were forced to seek shelter in public buildings or in the homes of friends and relatives. In neighboring Espirito Santo state the civil defense department said on its website that 15 people were killed and close to 50,000 people were forced from their homes by mudslides and rivers overflowing their banks.

Compiled from wire reports.