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Russian poet Natalya Gorbanevskaya, one of the former Soviet Union's foremost civil rights activists, has died in Paris at the age of 77, friends in Moscow told AFP. On August 25, 1968 she was one of seven dissidents who publicly denounced the invasion in Moscow's Red Square. She was arrested following the Red Square protest and sent to a psychiatric prison in Kazan, 800 kilometres (500 miles) east of Moscow, where she underwent treatment for alleged schizophrenia. Gorbanevskaya was freed after massive support by civil rights activists in the West and forced into exile.
Libya stopped three boats off its coast packed with almost 300 African migrants apparently trying to reach Europe, the state news agency Lana said on Friday. The migrants were taken to detention centres for processing by Libya's department for illegal migrants. Hundreds of people have died in the past two months in the stream of refugees trying to enter the European Union by boat from North Africa through Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily. Many come via Libya, which is struggling with growing anarchy two years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.
By Joe Penney BANGUI (Reuters) - Central African Republic has called for a ban on its diamond exports to be lifted, saying it needed the tax revenue from sales to revive its crisis-crippled economy. The Kimberley Process, a global watchdog set up to stop the trade in "blood diamonds", announced a suspension of certified diamond trading with the country in May, two months after a coalition of mainly Muslim Seleka rebels ousted President Francois Bozize. "Diamonds have nothing to do with the situation in Central African Republic," said Herbert Goyan Djono-Ahaba, mines minister in a transitional government meant to lead the country to fresh elections. Diamonds are an important source of revenue for the government in Bangui and the ban makes interim president Michel Djotodia's task of staging polls even more daunting.
Benin freed a former militant leader from Nigeria's oil-rich Delta region on Friday after a personal intervention by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, a government spokesman said. Mujahid Dobubo-Asari had been arrested in the West African nation's capital Cotonou on Tuesday. Like Jonathan, Asari is from the Ijaw ethnic group. He is best known for staging attacks on oil infrastructure in the swampy creeks of OPEC member Nigeria that drove up oil prices to record highs in 2004.