News in Brief

Generals Run a Kilometer



Generals and officers in the Defense Ministry's central staff are undergoing physical-fitness examinations for the first time in years, Interfax reported Friday.

The officials are being tested on short- and long-distance running, speed swimming and pistol practice, a Defense Ministry source told Interfax.

Physical fitness norms for staff aged 45 to 50 require that they run a kilometer in 4 minutes.

The tests will be completed by the end of February. (MT)




4 Years for Food Theft



A Saratov resident was sentenced Friday to four years in a maximum-security prison for stealing six cans of jam, 2 kilograms of tomatoes, 20 kilograms of sugar and a casserole.

The unidentified man broke into a woman's apartment in July and August, stealing the food worth a total of 1,080 rubles ($44), Saratov region prosecutors said, Interfax reported.

The man carried out the first theft a month after being released from prison, where he had served time for stealing, the report said. (MT)




2 Killed in Chechnya



Two police officers were killed by rebels in Chechnya, and several others were wounded in militant raids' in neighboring Ingushetia, officials said Sunday.

The clash in the Vedeno region in Chechnya's southern mountains occurred late Saturday when a group of local policemen were conducting a security raid and confronted a group of rebels. A gunbattle ensued, and two officers were killed and one wounded before the militants fled, the Chechen branch of the Interior Ministry said.

In Ingushetia's main city, Nazran, several gunmen driving in a car late Saturday fired at a police checkpoint, wounding an officer, said Svetlana Gorbakova, a spokeswoman for the regional branch of the Investigative Committee. A similar attack Sunday in Nazran left three more police officers and a civilian wounded, she said. (AP)




Radioactive Material Halted



BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Customs police have found radioactive material on a train heading to Iran from Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz presidential press service said late last week.

The unspecified cargo was intercepted in Uzbekistan about a month ago, and the train was sent back, the press service said. An investigation has been opened. In Vienna, a spokesman with the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said a Kyrgyz contact had told the agency that the radioactivity of the train's cargo was not high enough to pose a serious risk to health. (Reuters)




Parrot Smuggler Foiled



Border guards foiled an attempt Friday to smuggle in 82 parrots from Ukraine, Interfax reported.

A Ukrainian national from Simferopol was detained in the Oryol region after passing three cages of parrots to a train conductor on a trip from Simferopol to Moscow, Interfax said, citing the Federal Customs Service. A criminal case has been opened.

Border guards in Belarus in late January foiled an attempt to smuggle 277 parrots from Ukraine aboard a bicycle. Several days later, Belarussian veterinarians destroyed the parrots, fearing a possible outbreak of bird flu. (MT)




Tajiks Seize Drug Stash



DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- Tajik authorities have claimed a rare victory against the drug smugglers working along the country's border with Afghanistan when security officers seized one of their largest hauls of illicit narcotics in years.

Special service officers late last week seized about 500 kilograms of illegal narcotics, including 73 kilograms of heroin, and detained eight smugglers, said Nozirdzhon Buriyev, a spokesman for the state security service. (Reuters)




Spa Messes Up Enemas



People visiting a health resort received a rude shock when a nurse used hydrogen peroxide instead of water to give them enemas.

Seventeen tourists in the spa town of Yessentuki in the Stavropol region had to be treated in hospital after the mix-up, Itar-Tass reported late last week

Sources at the spa said the mistake had occurred because water and hydrogen peroxide looks the same. Hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to bleach hair, is used as a disinfectant but should not be ingested. (Reuters)