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Scottish Islanders Don Helmets for Viking Fire Festival

Dressed in Viking warrior outfits and brandishing swords and shields, the men of Britain's remote Shetland Islands were bristling for Tuesday's spectacular festival of fire celebrating their Nordic roots.

Wearing winged helmets and boasting some impressive beards, around a thousand "Guizers" were marching through the streets of Lerwick as the Up-Helly-Aa festival got under way in the Scottish islands' only town.

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India Marks Republic Day with Camels and Women Stunt-Riders

Thousands gathered in New Delhi amid tight security Tuesday for India's annual Republic Day parade, a pomp-filled spectacle of military might featuring camels and daredevil stuntwomen, with French President Francois Hollande the chief guest.

A contingent of French infantry in India for joint military exercises led the march down the capital's central Rajpath avenue, the first time foreign forces have ever taken part in the parade.

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Putin Still Has His Communist Party Card, Likes Socialist Ideals

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday revealed he has kept his USSR Communist Party membership card, and still has a soft spot for socialist ideals.  

"I didn't throw out my party card, I didn't burn it," said Putin, a former KGB agent in East Germany, at a meeting with supporters, quoted by Interfax news agency. "My card is lying round somewhere."

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Pope to Visit Sweden in October to Mark Protestant Reformation Anniversary

Pope Francis will visit Sweden in October to mark next year's 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation in Europe, the Vatican said Monday.

The Argentinian pontiff, a champion of inter-faith dialogue, will attend an ecumenical commemoration ceremony jointly organized by the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Lund on October 31.

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Merkel to Open Holocaust Art Expo with Anti-Semitism Warning

Chancellor Angela Merkel will open Monday the exhibition "The Art of the Holocaust", featuring works created by concentration camp prisoners, as the German leader pledged to combat the threat of rising anti-Semitism.

The show brings together 100 works on loan from Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial by 50 artists created in secret between 1939 and 1945 while they were confined to the camps or ghettos.

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Egypt Museum Staff to Face Disciplinary Hearing over Tutankhamun Mask

Eight employees of Cairo's Egyptian Museum will face a disciplinary hearing over a botched repair of the golden mask of King Tutankhamun, officials said on Sunday.

The 3,300-year-old funerary mask of the boy pharaoh was damaged when its beard was knocked off in August 2014 as museum staff removed it from its display case to repair the lighting.

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Lenin Watches on over Increasingly Indifferent Russians

To reach the gigantic statue of Vladimir Lenin that overlooks Moscow's October Square, pedestrians can stroll down streets named after the Bolshevik revolutionary's wife or mother, or cross Lenin Avenue that intersects with a road named after his brother.

More than a quarter of a century has passed since the fall of Communism but reminders of the Soviet Union's founding father Lenin -- who died on January 21, 1924 -- are still easy to find.

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Italy Battle over Gay Civil Unions Heads for the Streets

Italy's battle over legalizing same-sex civil unions is about to get heated, with supporters and opponents ready to take to the streets as lawmakers address the deeply divisive issue.

Italy is the only major Western European country not to have enacted legislation allowing gay couples to have their relationships legally recognized and protected. A bill, which the Senate will start examining on Thursday, is the first to get to parliament.

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Saudi Fatwa Banning Chess Stirs Online Outcry

A fatwa issued by Saudi Arabia's top cleric prohibiting chess in Islam and equating it with gambling has caused a stir on social media.

In a video of a television program posted online, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh appears categorical when asked about the board game in Islam.

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Russians Break Door at Top Museum as Record Crowds Rush to Art Show

A top Russian museum struggled to control record crowds on Friday as thousands rushed to see a 19th-century art exhibition, queuing for hours in the snow and even breaking a door.

The exhibition of paintings by Valentin Serov, renowned for his society portraits, broke attendance records at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery, with visitors queuing outside in freezing temperatures to see the show before it closes Sunday.

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