News in Brief

Politkovskaya Trial Delayed

The Moscow Military District Court on Thursday postponed the trial of three men charged in the 2006 murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

Judge Yevgeny Zubkov postponed the trial until Dec. 1, said Murad Musayev, a lawyer for two of the defendants.

Zubkov on Wednesday ruled that the case would be tried behind closed doors, reversing his earlier decision to open it to the public. He said the move was necessary to ease jurors' concerns for their safety. A man identifying himself as a juror in the trial told Ekho Moskvy radio on Thursday that, contrary to Zubkov's statements, jurors had not asked for a closed trial.

It could not be independently confirmed Thursday whether the man, who identified himself as Yevgeny Kolesov, was in fact a juror. (MT)

Germans Get Transit Route

Russia has granted the German military permission to ship weapons and equipment for its force in Afghanistan overland through Russia, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

"The Federal Customs Service has issued a general permission for … transit by rail through Russian territory of the Bundeswehr's arms, military equipment and military goods to Afghanistan," the ministry said in a statement. (Reuters)

Georgia Reports Shelling

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian officials said Thursday that Russian and separatist forces attacked a Georgian police checkpoint near the breakaway province of Abkhazia.

Abkhaz separatists said they had simply responded to Georgian fire, and no Russian troops were involved. Neither side reported casualties. (AP)

Czechs Likely to Back Treaty

The Czech Republic will probably ratify the European Union's Lisbon Treaty, as the country needs to choose allegiance between the 27-nation bloc and Russia, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said.

While the accord does not completely represent his preferences, the premier backs its approval, Topolanek wrote in an opinion piece in Thursday's edition of the Prague-based Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper.

"It's by far better" to "kiss the German chancellor than to hug the Russian bear," Topolanek wrote in the article. "I don't believe that in a country that the last Russian occupier left in June 1991," most of us "don't have a clear opinion on this." (Bloomberg)

Russia Reassures Bogota

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Russia has reassured U.S. ally Colombia over its arms sales to Venezuela and its planned Caribbean naval exercises, dismissing claims that it was challenging Washington in a replay of the Cold War, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Russia's Peter the Great battle cruiser and other vessels will hold exercises with Venezuela in the first naval maneuvers in Washington's traditional backyard since the Cold War.

Moscow has already sold helicopters, fighter jets and Kalashnikov rifles to Venezuela.

"We have confirmed our willingness to dismiss any worries that might arise … and the Colombians are satisfied," Lavrov told reporters Wednesday. (Reuters)