News in Brief

Latvia to Expel Diplomat



RIGA, Latvia -- Latvia said Monday that it was expelling a Russian diplomat for activities incompatible with his status.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the diplomat at the Russian Embassy had been declared persona non grata on the basis of information supplied by Latvian state security bodies.

The statement did not name the diplomat. (Reuters)




Bus Driver Sold Heroin



A Moscow bus driver made more than $10,000 a month selling heroin to local addicts at stops along his route, the Federal Drug Control Service said Monday.

Drug police arrested the driver, 39, on Jan. 14 after he finished his shift, an agency spokesman said. He has since been charged with dealing and faces up to three years in prison if convicted, the spokesman said.

The driver was selling around 200 grams of heroin -- worth more than 250,000 rubles ($10,200) -- a month to addicts at the bus stops, the spokesman said.

A medical examination revealed that the driver, who resisted arrest, had been driving under the influence of heroin that day, the spokesman said. The arresting officers found him in possession of 2 grams of heroin.

Citing the ongoing investigation, the spokesman declined to give the suspect's name or the bus route on which he worked. This information would be released at a later date, he said. (MT)




German Carjacked



Two traffic police in Bashkortostan have been charged with carjacking a German citizen on his way to Kyrgyzstan last year, Interfax reported Monday.

The suspects pulled the German over in his Mercedes on Nov. 4 and ordered him out of the car, the regional Interior Ministry said, Interfax reported. A struggle ensued, and the suspects managed to speed off in the car, taking 20,000 rubles ($810) in cash and spare car parts they found inside, the ministry said.

Investigators found the car in a garage rented by one of the traffic cops, the ministry said.

The suspects have been charged with violent robbery, punishable by up to 12 years in prison, and abuse of office, punishable by up to three years in prison, the ministry said, Interfax reported. (MT)




German Robbed in Astana



A German television producer was beaten and robbed in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Saturday, Interfax reported.

Marcus Bensmann, of the German network ARD, arrived in Astana early Saturday to shoot a film about the city, colleagues said.

Bensmann, 39, was found lying on a roadside late Saturday and taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion, a broken jaw and severe frostbite, Interfax reported. (MT)




Send in the Clowns



ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmenistan will end its seven-year ban on opera and the circus introduced by late President Saparmurat Niyazov, state media reported.

Niyazov banned opera, ballet and the circus, saying they were "alien" to Turkmen culture. (Reuters)