News in Brief

Bomb Targets Legislator

MAKHACHKALA -- A bomb blast ripped through a car in the republic of Dagestan Wednesday, injuring a top railway official and his driver, law enforcement authorities said.

The explosion in the capital Makhachkala hit a car in which Gazi Gaziyev, the top railway official in Dagestan and a member of the provincial legislature, was riding, city police deputy chief Shamil Guseinov said.

Gaziyev and his driver were hospitalized with minor injuries and their lives were not in danger, said Akhmed Magomayev, head of the transport police in Makhachkala. (AP)

Officer Killed in Ingushetia

One police officer was killed and another wounded in an attack by insurgents in the republic of Ingushetia on Tuesday night, a North Caucasus security official said, Interfax reported.

"Small arms and grenade launchers were used in the attack. A major from the Sunzha district police department was killed, and a lieutenant from the town of Salsk in the Rostov region was wounded," the source said. "He was hospitalized, and he is out of danger now." (MT)

Storchak Likely to Stay Put

Investigators have asked a Moscow court to extend the detention of Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak until April 9.

"We have received notification of this,'' Igor Pastukhov, a lawyer for Storchak, the country's top foreign-debt negotiator, said by telephone Wednesday. A court hearing would be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, he said.

Storchak, detained on Nov. 15, is awaiting trial on charges of attempting to embezzle $43.4 million from the federal government.

A court earlier rejected a request to release him on bail even though Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin gave assurances that Storchak would attend all required hearings. (Bloomberg)

Deputies Decry Coverage

Valery Rashkin and Sergei Obukhov, State Duma deputies from the Communist Party, have asked Central Elections Commission head Vladimir Churov to investigate what they called unequal television coverage, Interfax reported Wednesday.

In the text of a statement released Wednesday, they said that a study of coverage by the Russian Center of Political Studies in December highlighted gross violations of the election laws in the coverage of the nomination congresses of the United Russia, the Communist and the Liberal Democratic parties. (MT)

Poland Wants Defense Deal

WARSAW -- Poland's new center-right government will not agree to host a U.S. anti-missile site unless Washington commits to boosting Polish air defenses, Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said Wednesday.

Klich said he would discuss Poland's demands, which also include a higher level of military cooperation, with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Washington later this month.

The plan has met fierce resistance from Russia, which says the central European part of the shield would threaten its security. (Reuters)