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Sweden steps up hunt for 'foreign underwater activity'

Crew members onboard a Swedish Navy fast-attack craft stand guard at the Stockholm archipelago. Credit: Reuters

Sweden has boosted its military presence in the Stockholm archipelago to search for "foreign underwater activity" in the county's largest mobilisation of troops and ships since the end of the Cold War.

The search in the Baltic Sea less than 31 miles (50 km) from Stockholm began on Friday and this operation comes amid increasing tension with Russia among the Nordic and Baltic states over the Ukraine crisis.

Finland last week accused the Russian navy of interfering with a Finnish environmental research vessel in international waters.

Swedish military spokesmen said the information about suspicious activity came from a trustworthy source and that more than 200 military personnel were involved in the search.

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, citing unidentified sources with knowledge of the search, said the military operation began after a radio transmission in Russian on an emergency frequency was intercepted.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev 'in hospital'

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Credit: Reuters

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is in hospital "determined to fight for his life", Russian state media sources are reporting.

He is cited as telling Interfax news agency that his health was deteriorating, but that he was "determined to fight for his life".

My state of health has been moderate for a week and today I am in hospital. My health is deteriorating.

I'm hooked up to a monitor.

You know my character. I am determined to fight for my life.

– Mikhail Gorbachev, cited by RIA Novostri

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Moscow celebrates Vladimir Putin's 62nd birthday

People in the Russian capital of Moscow have been seen celebrating president Vladimir Putin's 62nd birthday today.

A huge banner hung from a bridge in the city showing US president Barack Obama wearing a T-shirt wishing happy birthday to 'global daddy' Putin.

A huge banner depicting US president Barack Obama wearing a Putin T-shirt hangs on a bridge in Moscow. Credit: Reuters

Shops in the capital sold T-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with their leader's face.

A shop assistant in Moscow shows off his Putin sweatshirts. Credit: Reuters
A Moscow shop sells sweatshirts printed with a sunglasses-wearing Putin. Credit: Reuters

But demonstrators in Poland chose today to protest against Putin's rule outside the Russian embassy in Warsaw.

Demonstrators in Poland hold anti-Putin posters in Warsaw on the Russian president's 62nd birthday. Credit: Reuters

Russia blocks import of 500 tonnes of US chicken legs

DPA

Russian consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor says it had stopped imports of more than 500 tonnes of US chicken legs as part of efforts to prevent "counterfeit and prohibited" food entering the Russian market.

The watchdog said in a statement it had also stopped more than 70 tonnes of pig products from Poland and Germany as well as 100 tonnes of apples because they were labelled improperly.

'At least ten dead' after shelling of Donetsk playground

At least 10 people have reportedly been killed after shelling of a school playground and a nearby street in the Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

Witnesses quoted by Reuters said a biology teacher and a parent of one of the school's pupils were killed during the blasts, although no children were among the dead.

The area has been a stronghold of pro-Russian separatists since the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

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Protesters pull down Lenin statue in Ukraine

Credit: RTV

Protesters have pulled down one of the biggest statues of communist leader Vladimir Lenin in Ukraine.

Hundreds of nationalists cheered and danced around as the monument came crashing down in the country's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

Lenin is considered by many Ukrainians as an undesired link to Moscow.

The tearing down of the memorial is said to be supported by Kiev officials.

After it fell most people in the crowd rushed to the ruins to collect a small piece of the once powerful symbol to take home.

Watch the video in full here:

Moscow: Time to 'modernise Russia's nuclear arsenal'

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted on Sunday as saying that the time had come for his country to modernise its nuclear and conventional arsenals.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov Credit: PA Wire

"I don't think we are on the verge of a new arms race. At least, Russia definitely won't be part of it. In our case, it's just that the time has come for us to modernise our nuclear and conventional arsenals," Lavrov said, according to a transcript of an interview with Russia Today television published on its website.

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