Source Pravda.Ru

Queen Elizabeth Calls 2009 Difficult Year

Friday in her Christmas message Britain's Queen Elizabeth paid tribute to the armed forces and referred to the recession, describing 2009 as a "difficult year."

"Each year that passes seems to have its own character. Some leave us with a feeling of satisfaction, others are best forgotten. 2009 was a difficult year for many, in particular those facing the continuing effects of the economic downturn," she said, as she opened her message.

The queen, who is the titular head of the military, said she was saddened by the casualties suffered in Afghanistan, but added: "We can be proud of the positive contribution that our servicemen and women are making, in conjunction with our allies."

The number of British troops killed in Afghanistan this year reached 100 in early December, with six more deaths in recent days, including two by 'friendly fire', taking the total to 106. British troops are deployed in more than 80 countries, including around 10,000 in Afghanistan, Reuters reports.

Queen Elizabeth II said the Commonwealth is the "face of the future" in her annual Christmas message on Friday and described 2009 as a "difficult year".

The queen said the diversity of its 54 member states and its billion-strong population aged under 25 showed the Commonwealth could transcend political, religious and racial boundaries.

Each year that passes seems to have its own character. Some leave us with a feeling of satisfaction, others are best forgotten," she said.

"2009 was a difficult year for many, in particular those facing the continuing effects of the economic downturn," the 83-year-old monarch said, AFP reports.

The Queen ended by urging the British people to show compassion and concern for those less fortunate, even though "we may ourselves be confronted by a bewildering array of difficulties and challenges".

The address had echoes of the Guildhall speech in which the Queen famously referred to 1992 as her "annus horribilis". It was the year that Windsor Castle was damaged by fire, and that the Duke and Duchess of York announced their separation.

Members of the Royal Family attended a Christmas Day church service at Sandringham, Norfolk.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, Princes William and Harry, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Phillips were among those who made the quarter mile walk along an icy path from Sandringham House to St Mary Magdalene Church, Telegraph.co.uk reports.

The Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested Michael Calvey, the founder of Baring Vostok investment fund, on allegations of embezzling 2.5 billion rubles from Vostochny Bank. Calvey will be held in custody until April 13

Putin informed about arrest of US investor Michael Calvey
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