News in Brief

Pride for Military Surges



The violent conflict with Georgia over the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia has boosted Russians' pride and respect for their armed forces, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Thirty percent of Russians are proud of their army, while 29 percent treat it with respect, according to a poll conducted by state polling agency VTsIOM, Interfax reported.

Eleven percent said they believed that the army would not be able to defend the country from a real military threat, compared with 33 percent three years ago, the poll said. (MT)




Sakharov Museum Change



Yury Samodurov, the curator of the Sakharov Museum who is facing charges of inciting religious hatred with an art exhibit, has resigned.

Samodurov said he resigned to protest a decision by the museum's founding organization, the Sakharov Fund, to cut the museum's financing, Kommersant reported Wednesday.

Samodurov faces up to five years in prison for organizing the "Forbidden Art" exhibit, which sparked protests from the Russian Orthodox Church and other religious groups after it opened at his museum last year. The City Prosecutor's Office last month wrapped up the investigation into Samodurov and sent the case to court. (MT)




Belarus Frees 2 Activists



MINSK -- Belarus has released two businessmen who were jailed last April after taking part in a protest and who are considered political prisoners in the West, the mother of one of them said Wednesday.

The release of Andrei Kim and Sergei Parsyukevich, not confirmed by authorities, came barely a week after Alexander Kozulin, the country's most prominent jailed activist, was freed.

Both men were jailed last April, Parsyukevich for 2 1/2 years and Kim for 1 1/2 years. (Reuters)




Belarussian Air Defense Pact



Russia will sign a deal later this year on creating a joint air-defense system with Belarus, a former Soviet ally that has joined Moscow in opposing the U.S. defense shield, the Kremlin said.

President Dmitry Medvedev and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko met for talks Tuesday in Sochi, where Medvedev has his official summer residence.

The Kremlin said in a statement that the two leaders discussed preparations for a high-level Russian-Belarus summit in Moscow later this year. They "agreed by that meeting to complete work on an inter-state agreement on the creation of a single air-defense system, which will be signed during the meeting," the statement said. (Reuters)