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Ukrainian security forces on Wednesday pulled out of the epicentre of mass protests in Kiev after a nine hour standoff with thousands of demonstrators, in a major boost for the opposition to President Viktor Yanukovych. Elite Berkut anti-riot police and interior ministry special forces moved against the protestors who have occupied Kiev's Independence Square for over a week at around 2:00 am (midnight GMT). US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed "disgust" at the crackdown, which came as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton were in Kiev for talks with all parties to find a way out of the crisis.
Time magazine on Wednesday named Pope Francis its person of the year, saying that in nine months in office the head of the Catholic Church had become a new voice of conscience. "For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is TIME's 2013 Person of the Year," wrote managing editor Nancy Gibbs. "Rarely has a new player on the world stage captured so much attention so quickly -- young and old, faithful and cynical -- as Pope Francis. "In his nine months in office, he has placed himself at the very center of the central conversations of our time: about wealth and poverty, fairness and justice, transparency, modernity, globalization, the role of women, the nature of marriage, the temptations of power."
By Estelle Shirbon LONDON (Reuters) - A woman who wants to get married in a chapel of the Church of Scientology in London won her case on Wednesday at Britain's Supreme Court, which ruled that Scientology was a religion and the chapel was a place where marriages could be solemnised. Louisa Hodkin, 25, had launched legal action after officials refused to record the chapel as a place that could be used to celebrate marriages, citing a court ruling from 1970 that said Scientology did not involve religious worship. It's been a long and demanding journey, but the Supreme Court's decision today has made it all worthwhile," Hodkin said in a statement. "We are really excited that we can now get married." The Church of Scientology itself was not a party to the legal action, but the Supreme Court's ruling is a notable victory for an organisation that has struggled to gain recognition as a genuine religion in many countries.