News in Brief

FSB Reports Election Plots

Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev said Wednesday that his agency thwarted attempted terrorist attacks during the March 2 presidential election, Interfax reported Wednesday.

"Thanks to advance warnings, diversionary terrorist attacks that bandits had been planning to carry out were prevented, including attacks set to take place during the campaign and on the day of the presidential election," Patrushev said at a meeting of the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, Interfax reported. (MT)

Ukraine Asylum for Activist

An activist with the banned National Bolshevik Party convicted of hooliganism for a political stunt has been granted asylum in Ukraine, opposition coalition The Other Russia said Wednesday.

Moscow's Tverskoi District Court convicted Olga Kudrina, 24, in May 2006 of hooliganism and intentionally damaging property, sentencing her to 3 1/2 years in prison for hanging a banner reading "Putin, Quit Your Job!" from the Rossiya Hotel.

Kudrina, however, did not show up to hear the verdict, going to Ukraine instead, The Other Russia said in a statement. Ukraine granted her asylum several days ago, the coalition said. (MT)

Copters Heading for Chad

PARIS -- Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia had approved the deployment of helicopters to bolster a European Union peacekeeping force along Chad's border with Darfur, possibly putting Russian forces under EU command for the first time.

President Vladimir Putin approved the mission, and government funds have been allocated, Serdyukov said Tuesday during a visit to Paris.

A European diplomatic and security official in Brussels said such a role would mark the first time that Russians had contributed to an EU mission. (AP)

Cheney to Pitch Shield

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney will ask Turkey to allow the U.S. military to build a missile defense system on its territory to guard against attacks by "rogue" states such as Iran, Aksam newspaper reported.

Cheney will make the request during talks in Turkey's capital, Ankara, as part of a tour of the Middle East starting March 16, Aksam said, citing unidentified Turkish officials.

The United States is negotiating with Poland and the Czech Republic to host parts of the missile system. President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of planning to use the shield to blunt Russia's nuclear missile deterrent. (Bloomberg)

Spassky Visits Fischer Grave

REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Former world chess champion Boris Spassky visited Bobby Fischer's grave Tuesday at a small cemetery near Reykjavik.

Fischer, who died in January at age 64, defeated Spassky in 1972 to become the first, and still the only, American world chess champion.

A clearly moved Spassky bent and dusted snow off the grave and flowers before straightening up and wiping his eyes.

"Do you think the spot next to him is available?" he joked to reporters afterward, adding, "We will see what happens." (Reuters)