News in Brief

Three Attacks Against Jews

Russia's Jewish community on Thursday reported three attacks in the last two weeks, including a raid on a synagogue and desecration of a memorial to Holocaust victims.

In Ulyanovsk, a group of about a dozen young men painted swastikas Tuesday on the walls of a synagogue and cursed at members inside, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia said.

In Volgograd, anti-Semitic slogans were scrawled on a memorial to Holocaust victims Sunday, the group said.

Last week, several young men burst into a synagogue in Nizhny Novgorod, throwing religious books out a window and beating up a security guard, it said. (AP)

Bombers Training in Arctic

Russia sent eight bombers to train for combat with enemy aircraft and attacks on ships over international Arctic waters Thursday, Interfax quoted a senior Air Force officer as saying.

More than 40 planes were participating in the Arctic drill, supporting two Tu-95MS bombers and six Tu-22M3 bombers but would not violate international borders, Air Force Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky told Interfax. The agency did not say where in the Arctic region the exercises would take place.

"The crews will train in reconnaissance, bombardment of enemy ships, air combat and patrolling above the Arctic Ocean," Drobyshevsky was quoted as saying. (Reuters)

Nazran Web Site Under Fire

NAZRAN, Ingushetia -- An opposition web site in Ingushetia accused local authorities Thursday of trying to shut it down after it promoted protests and published details of kidnappings and murders. had been one of the only information sources criticizing the authorities from the mainly Muslim region bordering Chechnya.

The web site promoted and helped organize a protest on Saturday in which demonstrators armed with petrol bombs clashed with police and burnt a pro-government newspaper office.

On Thursday the web site was closed, founder Magomed Yevloyev said, accusing authorities of hacking into the site to try to silence opposition. Yevloyev has pledged to restart the site again. (Reuters)

Warsaw Claims Blackmail

WASHINGTON -- Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski on Thursday accused Russia of blackmailing it with threats aimed at derailing a deal to allow the United States to install missile defense interceptors on Polish territory.

Sikorski did not specifically name Russia in accusing it of blackmail, but it was clear from the context of his speech which nation he was referring to.

"Poland has come under political pressure and has even been blackmailed by some of our neighbors who fiercely oppose this project," Sikorski said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank where he once worked. (AP)

Georgia Gets New Cabinet

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's parliament approved a new Cabinet on Thursday proposed by President Mikheil Saakashvili after his re-election earlier this month.

The vote was boycotted by the 225-seat legislature's 40 opposition lawmakers, who do not recognize the legitimacy of Saakashvili's re-election, claiming that the Jan. 5 vote was rigged.

Of the 141 lawmakers who took part in the vote, all backed the new Cabinet, which does not include a single member of opposition.

Saakashvili replaced Foreign Minister Gela Bezhuashvili who sought to repair the ex-Soviet republic's ties with Russia. (AP)

Jailed Oppositionist Dies

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- A senior member of Tajikistan's Islamic opposition party died from cancer after spending five years in jail for purportedly organizing a criminal group, his party said Thursday.

Shamsiddin Shamsiddinov, deputy leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party, died Wednesday from throat cancer, IRP leader Mukhitdin Kabiri said. He was 55.

Shamsiddinov had been arrested in 2003, and was sentenced the following year to 16 years in prison. (Reuters)