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Ukrainian protest leader accuses Russian agents in kidnapping

KIEV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian protest leader who vanished for a week and then emerged from a forest late last month saying he had been “crucified” gave his first full account of his ordeal on Thursday.

The activist, Dmytro Bulatov, appeared with a Lithuanian doctor to rebut government claims that he had suffered only “a scratch” and to accuse Russian secret service agents and a friend of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia of having a possible hand in his kidnapping and torture.

The suggestion of a Russian role came as a Kremlin adviser, in a scathing attack, accused the U.S. of funding and arming protesters in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, and as the U.S. assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Victoria Nuland, arrived in Ukraine to meet with the government and the opposition.

Urging the Ukrainian authorities to crush what he described as an attempted coup by U.S.-armed “rebels,” the Kremlin adviser, Sergei Glazyev, said in an interview published Thursday that the U.S. was “unilaterally and crudely interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs” in violation of a 1994 agreement.

This, he said, gave Russia the legal right to intervene in the crisis. He did not specify what form any such intervention might take.

—Andrew Higgins, The New York Times

Google settles an antitrust case in Europe, but critics remain

Google has agreed to a settlement with European competition regulators that leaves the company with a few bruises, yet victorious overall — and would end half a decade of wrangles with antitrust authorities across the globe.

Under the settlement, which awaits formal approval by the European Commission, Google agreed to the harshest penalties it has yet received in an antitrust inquiry anywhere.

But it escaped a fine and a finding of wrongdoing. And it protected its crown jewel — its secret algorithm — from oversight by regulators, and avoided a court battle or potential consequences like a $5 billion fine or a ruling to make major changes to its company structure or its products.

The changes Google agreed to did little to satisfy the competitors whose formal complaints prompted the inquiry by European antitrust regulators. The investigation focused on whether Google abused its dominant position in the European search market, where it has about 90 percent market share, versus two-thirds in the United States.

“The basic pronouncement is, Google’s not an illegal business,” said Tim Wu, a professor of antitrust law at Columbia who worked on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust case against Google, which ended with a finding that Google had not violated antitrust law. “Their main business goes full speed ahead. Obviously what some of Google’s competitors would have liked was much more aggressive.”

The deal’s limited scope, however, did not stop Joaquín Almunia, the European Union’s competition commissioner, from hailing it as a major success.

“No other antitrust body has secured such concessions from Google,” Almunia told reporters on Wednesday. ‘The agreement is far-reaching and creates a level playing field across Europe.“

The decision would force Google to give its rivals more prominence in specialized search results, like those for shopping, travel and local business reviews. Most noticeably, Google said it would display results from at least three competitors each time it shows its own results for specialized searches related to things like shopping, restaurants and travel. In some cases, competitors will pay when people click on these results.

—Claire Cain Miller and Mark Scott, The New York Times