News in Brief

Reiman and Zurabov Return



President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed former IT and Communications Minister Leonid Reiman and former Health and Social Development Minister Mikhail Zurabov as his advisers, Interfax reported Tuesday.

The IT and Communications Ministry was disbanded in a government reshuffle Monday. Zurabov lost his job in a Cabinet reshuffle in September. (MT)




Ivanov Keeps Portfolio



Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday that his portfolio would remain unchanged from his time as first deputy prime minister, Interfax reported.

Some doubt had lingered over Ivanov's role after Prime Minister Vladimir Putin skipped over Ivanov when detailing ministers' portfolios to the new Cabinet on Monday.

Ivanov said he would continue to oversee the defense industry, transportation, communications, science and high technology. (MT)




Ecstasy and Uppers Bust



A German citizen has been arrested on suspicion of trying to sell about 5,000 Ecstasy and amphetamine pills in the Altai region, Interfax reported Tuesday.

The suspect, who was not identified, has been charged with conspiring to sell a large amount of illegal drugs, the report said, citing the region's prosecutor's office. If tried and convicted, he faces seven to 15 years in prison.

The suspect was born and grew up in the Altai region but moved to Germany in 1994, Interfax said. While there, he served time in jail for possession of heroin.

Investigators believe the pills, weighing about 700 grams, were brought into the country in a secret compartment in a car. (MT)




Sakharov Director Charged



The director of the Sakharov museum was charged Tuesday with inciting ethnic and religious hatred for a 2007 exhibit that contained works portraying Jesus Christ as Mickey Mouse.

Yury Samodurov, charged by prosecutors from the Investigative Committee's branch in Moscow's Tagansky district, faces up to five years in prison if convicted, Interfax reported.

Samodurov denied the charges, his lawyer Anna Stavitskaya said.

The "Forbidden Art" exhibit, which included paintings of Jesus Christ with the head of Mickey Mouse, fornicating soldiers and Lenin's image on a crucifix, had angered Russian Orthodox leaders. (MT)




Poland Asks U.S. for More



WARSAW -- Poland said Tuesday that recent U.S. proposals to strengthen Polish defenses in return for hosting a controversial U.S. missile shield fell short of its demands.

Washington wants to install 10 land-based interceptors in Poland as part of an anti-missile system designed to protect the United States and its NATO allies from attack by what it calls "rogue states," especially Iran. Russia opposes the plan.

"We have the right to set our own conditions and expectations. At the moment, the U.S. proposals have not reached a satisfactory level for Poland," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said.

"There will be a missile shield once our conditions are met," he said, in his first public comments on the shield since U.S. and Polish negotiators discussed the initiative last week. (Reuters)




Kyrgyz Aid to HIV Children



BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has provided aid to scores of children who contracted HIV because of apparent negligence at local hospitals.

Bakiyev's office said Monday that he ordered a one-time payment of $14,600 to each of the children affected.

Health authorities say 72 children have been infected with HIV in the two southern Kyrgyz hospitals, and 16 mothers also contracted the virus. The scandal has rattled the country.

Charges were filed earlier this year against 14 medical personnel accused of negligence in administering injections and blood transfusions. Their trial is set to start this week. (AP)




Lukashenko Offers Hope



MINSK -- President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday that he hoped a parliamentary election in September would deliver some seats to the opposition to disarm Western criticism of human rights in Belarus.

Lukashenko warned the European Union against joining the United States in imposing economic sanctions, reminding the bloc that Belarus was a transit country for Russian oil and gas.

"I would like for at least a few opposition figures to win support so that you cannot accuse us of not having an opposition in parliament. But that will depend on the people," Lukashenko said.

The opposition currently has no seats in the parliament. (Reuters)