News in Brief

Latvians Name Diplomat



Latvia's secret service said the Russian expelled for spying this week was Alexander Rogozhin, second secretary at the Russian Embassy in Riga.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry announced the expulsion Jan. 21 without naming the diplomat. Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Riekstins said the diplomat had "access to classified information," in televised comments on Jan. 22. "You could call it spying,'' Riekstins said, adding that Russia might respond in kind.

The Constitutional Protection Bureau, Latvia's secret service, has "indisputable documentary evidence" of Rogozhin's spying, spokeswoman Iveta Maura said today in an e-mailed statement. Rogozhin left Latvia late Wednesday, she said.

The expulsion comes after relations between Latvia and Russia warmed following the completion of a border treaty signed Dec. 18. (Bloomberg)




Military Officers Fired On



ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying military officers near their post in Ingushetia, killing two and wounding three others, the regional Interior Ministry said.

The attack occurred as the officers were returning to their post Wednesday in the settlement of Troitskaya, the ministry said. The officers returned fire but the assailants escaped, it said.

Largely Muslim Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, is a poor region troubled by daily violence, tension with neighboring regions and widespread distrust of government forces. (AP)




Kyrgyz Street Protest Plans



BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz opposition leader Azimbek Beknazarov said Thursday that he was planning street protests to try to unseat Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

The Central Asian state has been volatile since 2005 when mass riots, triggered by a flawed parliamentary election, toppled long-serving leader Askar Akayev and brought Bakiyev to power.

"Our aim is to remove Bakiyev from his post for failing people's hopes," Beknazarov told reporters. He did not say when the protests might start.

Bakiyev was elected president after Akayev's fall in a 2005 election judged free and fair by Western observers.

Since then, some of his former allies, including Beknazarov, have switched sides and turned against the president, accusing him of usurping power and not tackling corruption and crime. (Reuters)




Nazarbayev Shuffles Circle



ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has reshuffled top officials in his inner political circle, including his chief of staff and the head of a financial watchdog.

Nazarbayev made the announcement at a meeting Wednesday with senior members of his party, Nur Otan.

Kairat Kelimbetov, hitherto chairman of state investment vehicle Kazyna, was named the new head of the presidential administration -- a powerful position in Kazakhstan.

His predecessor, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov, was appointed aide to Nazarbayev and will double as acting chairman of Nur Otan.

Arman Dunayev, head of the Financial Supervision Agency, will replace Kelimbetov at the Kazyna fund. His deputy, Yelena Bakhmutova, will assume the top job at the regulatory body. (Reuters)




Adamov Could Get 9 Years



Prosecutors on Thursday asked the Zamoskvoretsky District Court to sentence former Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov to nine years in prison on charges of corruption and undermining nuclear safety.

Prosecutor Viktor Antipov accused Adamov of fraud and abuse of office.

Adamov's lawyer, Genri Reznik, told reporters that his client faced a "a tome of accusations" but said there was no proof of his guilt.

Charges are also outstanding in the United States against Adamov, who is accused by U.S. prosecutors of misusing $9 million in aid intended to upgrade safety at Soviet-era nuclear reactors in the late 1990s. (Reuters)