* Five Belarusian opposition activists have been sentenced for up to four years for their part in mass protests against the reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko.
* The international Libya contact group has announced the establishment of a fund to help Libyan rebels.
* New York prosecutors issued a memorandum on Thursday in which they agreed not to refer to suspected Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout as “the Merchant of Death.”
* Workers entered one of the damaged reactor buildings at the Fukushima nuclear power plant for the first time since it was crippled in a blast, the NHK TV channel said.
* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday instructed the Agriculture and Energy ministries to solve the problem with gasoline shortages in the country to ensure the start of spring cultivation.
* The prosecution called for a life sentence for Nikita Tikhonov for the killing of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova in Moscow in 2009.
* Two Russian prosecutors suspected of protecting underground casinos have been put on the federal wanted list.
* Russian police have arrested some 500 illegal Vietnamese immigrants in the Moscow Region’s village of Malakhovka, a police source said.
* Police in the Urals city of Yekaterinburg have detained an artist who supposedly made a poster depicting Jesus Christ giving the middle finger and displayed it near a church.
* Sergei Mironov, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament, is facing a recall procedure and may lose his job later this month.
* FIFA President Sepp Blatter arrived in Moscow and was met by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who declared Russia’s support for the reelection campaign of the head of world football’s governing body.