News in Brief

Karabakh Talks Planned



YEREVAN, Armenia -- President Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday that he would host peace talks between Azerbaijan and Armenia, which appear willing to negotiate a settlement of their 20-year conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Medvedev's announcement follows a statement by a U.S. diplomat that the United States also would step up efforts to help settle the conflict. (AP)




Greenpeace Sues Agency



The Russian branch of environmental watchdog Greenpeace sued the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage on Tuesday, accusing it of not disclosing information as required by law, RIA-Novosti reported.

The government requires its agencies to provide information about their activities, but one of the nature service's regional branches refused a Greenpeace request for information, Greenpeace official Ivan Blokov said. (MT)




Warship Nears Pirates



A Russian warship moved through the Suez Canal on Tuesday to join military vessels from other nations protecting shipping in pirate-infested waters off Somalia, Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said.

Dygalo said the guided-missile frigate Neustrashimy would join warships from other nations surrounding an arms-laden Ukrainian vessel seized by Somali pirates three weeks ago.

The Russian deployment has raised media speculation that Moscow could use force to free the crew of the MV Faina. Dygalo refused to comment on the speculation. (AP)




Lexus Theft Spree



Three luxury Lexus sedans were stolen off Moscow streets in the span of 15 minutes Tuesday, Interfax reported.

Starting at 8:40 a.m., unknown thieves took one from Akademika Vargy Ulitsa. The second was stolen off Beskudnikovsky Bulvar at 8:50 a.m, and the third was taken at 8:55 a.m. from 2nd Shchemilovsky Pereulok.

Four additional Lexus sedans were stolen throughout the day Monday.

On Monday night, a tow truck was also stolen, but it was later stopped and the driver detained. (MT)




Police See Drop in Crime



Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev hailed a 10.6 percent drop in registered crimes in the first nine months of the year Tuesday, Itar-Tass reported.

Nurgaliyev credited the drop to anti-alcohol and anti-drug campaigns and a government effort to help former prisoners adapt to life outside prison. (MT)




Militants Kill 6 Policemen



MAKHACHKALA -- Militants ambushed a police contingent in Dagestan on Tuesday, killing six officers and wounding nine others, officials said.

The militants first killed a police officer and then ambushed a police convoy, killing five others in a mountainous area south of Makhachkala, regional Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky said. (AP)




Space Tourist Exuberant



CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The world's latest space tourist, a computer game wizard and astronaut's son who paid $30 million to fly to the space station, said from orbit that he's gotten his money's worth.

With his 12-day adventure winding down this week, Richard Garriott said it had been especially gratifying speaking from space with his father, retired astronaut Owen Garriott, 77, who flew on NASA's first space station, Skylab, in 1973. Their next conversation will be face-to-face at the Soyuz landing site in Kazakhstan on Friday. (AP)




Army Redfaced Over Corn



Krasnodar prosecutors said Tuesday that they were investigating the unauthorized use of a military airfield by a local farmer to grow corn and sunflowers, RIA-Novosti reported.

The farmer could not produce any documents authorizing his use of the land, classified as a strategic object by the Defense Ministry, while the military unit in charge of the airfield could not explain why the farmer was allowed to use it, prosecutors said. The farmer faces a fine of up to 1,000 rubles ($37). (MT)