News in Brief

Putin's Last Press Conference

President Vladimir Putin will hold his seventh and last annual news conference in February, the Kremlin said Tuesday.

The Kremlin did not give an exact date for the event, which will take place less than a month before the presidential election.

Putin will use the news conference to discuss a broad range of issues, and it will be held in a Kremlin hall, Kommersant reported on its web site.

Putin gave his first such news conference in July 2001, where 400 foreign and Russian journalists participated. Last year, 1,100 journalists were accredited for the annual presser, which lasted a record 3 hours and 32 minutes. (MT)

Politkovskaya Honored

STRASBOURG, France -- European Union lawmakers honored slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Tuesday by naming a press room at the European Parliament after her.

"Anna Politkovskaya was a courageous woman who fought for freedom of the press and of expression in her country," European Parliament President Hans-Gert P?ttering said in a statement. "She is a symbol of these values, and we honor that she stood for them under very difficult conditions." Politkovskaya, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in 2006 in her Moscow apartment building. (Reuters)

Voice of Beslan Case Moved

An Ingush court agreed on Tuesday to transfer hearings on whether the Voice of Beslan group is extremist to North Ossetia, where Beslan is located.

Ingush prosecutors brought extremism charges against the group, which includes women who lost relatives in the 2004 school attack, over a 2005 open letter that accuses President Vladimir Putin of mishandling the crisis. Voice of Beslan founder Ella Kesayeva said the date of the first court session would be set within 10 days. (Reuters)

Novosibirsk Reporters Sued

The Novosibirsk branch of a state medical agency has sued local journalists for citing an anonymous web post that criticized the agency's work, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Tuesday.

The local branch of the Federal Mandatory Medical Insurance Fund sued the magazine Expert-Sibir for citing a critical post on a local Internet forum, the report said. (MT)