News in Brief

Gaydamak applies to be Russian againSenior Kremlin officials said business tycoon Arcadi Gaydamak lodged a request yesterday in Moscow for Russian citizenship.

The officials said the billionaire hopes to receive a passport within days, ahead of the March 4 verdict in a French court over his involvement in the "Angolagate" arms-dealing affair. Prosecutors are seeking an extended prison sentence.

Gaydamak was forced to relinquish his Russian passport in the 1970s upon emigrating to Israel, after which he spent 17 years in France. Gaydamak is reportedly hoping Russian citizenship will complicate potential efforts to have him extradited from the country to France. (Haaretz Service)

Debt break not extended to Cast Lead reservists

A law extending by 30 days the time period reserve soldiers may pay bills to government and private agencies will not be implemented for those who served in Operation Cast Lead, the Defense Ministry has announced.

The law was passed in 1975, following the Yom Kippur War, to protect reservists from financial penalties for failure to pay money owed to various organizations.

Following the Gaza offensive, reservist organizations asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak to enact the same provision, but after several weeks were informed the operation was too short and involved too few reservists to qualify. The law was implemented following the 2006 Second Lebanon War. (Anshel Pfeffer)

Man gets 1 year in jail for drunk driving

A man was sentenced to a year in prison yesterday for drunk driving - an unusually harsh sentence - and his driver's license was revoked for eight years.

Mahmoud Ali Madir Hana, 50, was arrested Sunday after police stopped him for driving recklessly on the Tiberias-Rosh Pina highway. His blood alcohol level proved to be five times the legal limit.

In its ruling, the Nazareth Magistrate's Court wrote that drunk driving endangers the life of everyone on the road, and must therefore be deterred by stiffer sentences. It also cited Hana's criminal record, though this does not include previous traffic offenses. (Eli Ashkenazi)

Israeli authors make fiction prize shortlist

Two Israeli authors are among the 16 finalists competing for the 2009 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. The prize, which is sponsored by Arts Council England and the Independent newspaper of London, is for outstanding works of fiction in translation.

Finalists include A. B. Yehoshua for his book "Friendly Fire," and Eshkol Nevo for "Homesick." The winner will be announced in mid-May in London, and the prize money, 10,000 euros, will be split between the author and translator. (Haaretz Staff)