Russia banned imports of Georgia's best-known brand of mineral water just weeks after having banned imports of Georgian wines. On May 4, Russia's consumer protection agency said it was banning the Borjomi mineral water due to health reasons. Georgian Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli said the ban was political, and that Moscow was seeking to punish Georgia for its pro-Western policies.
The family of Chechen separatist leader Aslan Maskhadov, who was killed in March 2005, asked Finland for political asylum. According to Finland-Caucasus, a local organization, Maskhadov's family is currently residing in Baku. The president's chancellery has confirmed the request for asylum but has made no comment so far, Finnish media wrote.
Finland plans to lobby for a hike in the duties on hard liquor and beer during its six-month term as president of the European Council. The country has seen revenues on these two items fall drastically since Estonia, where many Finns travel to in order to stock up on alcohol, joined the European Union. Finance Minister Eero Heinaluoma told the STT news agency that the issue would be raised. However, he said there were no plans to introduce a minimum duty on wine.
Residents of Hammerfest, one of the most northern towns in the world, started building a 12-mile fence to keep reindeer from wandering the streets. "Having reindeer walking around sounds exotic, but it isn't for those who live here," Mayor Alf Jakobsen told Reuters. "Reindeer are a big nuisance. They come into town, get into [hotel and business] reception areas, into churches, into traffic," he said.
Denmark has announced that it will keep troops in Iraq for at least another year. Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller was quoted as saying that there would be a slight reduction in the number of troops 's currently at 530 's but it would be less than one-fifth that many are predicted. "We feel that extending the mandate for another 12 months is the right thing to do," Mr. Moller said. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen told The Washington Times that the violent reaction among Muslims over the publication of cartoons of Muhammad had only "strengthened our resolution" to keep Denmark's troops in Iraq.
Russia warned Georgia and Ukraine that the two countries would lose any energy subsidies if they withdraw from the Commonwealth of Independent States, which both nations have hinted they will do in consultation with one another. "In the wake of statements made by the leaders of Georgia and Ukraine about the possibility of their withdrawal from the CIS, the government of Russia is considering canceling a number of benefits, which these states enjoy within the CIS," a government source told the RIA-Novosti news agency.