News in Brief

Yashin Pulls Out of Race

Ilya Yashin, leader of Yabloko's youth branch, has withdrawn his candidacy to head the party and thrown his backing behind Maxim Reznik, leader of Yabloko's St. Petersburg branch, Interfax reported Thursday.

Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky, who has headed the party since he co-founded it in 1995, is hoping to be re-elected to the post for another four years at a party congress this weekend.

Reznik and Yashin want new leadership after Yabloko again failed to win any seats in the State Duma last December. (MT)

Yeltsin Videos Confiscated

Law enforcement officials have confiscated the video archive of the personal cameraman of former President Boris Yeltsin, Kommersant reported Thursday.

The cameraman, Alexander Kuznetsov, linked the seizure to his plans to use the footage in a documentary film about the state of democracy in Russia, the report said.

Law enforcement officials declined to comment to the newspaper.

A few dozen police officers on Wednesday afternoon stopped a bus carrying the videotapes, recorded from 1988 to 2000, saying they suspected the tapes were pirated copies. Kuznetsov was the only operator filming the White House from the inside during the August 1991 coup attempt. (MT)

Blimp Hunts Immigrants

Police in the Perm region are using an airship to hunt for illegal workers from other former Soviet republics, the state channel Vesti-24 reported.

Video footage showed an unmanned airship, equipped with a video camera able to identify a face from a distance of 5 kilometers, hovering over private cottages near the city of Perm.

"Now there's no escape from this all-seeing eye," the news announcer said.

The video showed a group of migrants, identified by a policeman as from Tajikistan, building a private house.

"Literally just an hour after this cat-and-mouse game, police and migration officers detained some 70 illegal migrants. Some of them are sure to be expelled from Russia," the announcer said. (Reuters)

House Cement-Bombed

Air Force planes dropped a 25-kilogram sack of cement on a home in the Moscow region last week while seeding clouds to prevent rain from spoiling the Russia Day holiday.

"A pack of cement used in creating … good weather in the capital region … failed to disintegrate completely at high altitude and fell on the roof of a house, making a hole 80 to 100 centimeters," said a police official in Naro-Fominsk, a town located 70 kilometers southwest of Moscow, RIA-Novosti reported.

Ahead of major holidays, the Air Force often dispatches up to 12 cargo planes carrying loads of silver iodide, liquid nitrogen and cement powder to seed clouds above Moscow and empty the skies of moisture.

An Air Force spokesman refused to comment. (Reuters)