News in Brief

Police Storm Dagestan Hotel

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Police stormed a small hotel where armed militants were blockaded in Dagestan on Saturday, and two rebels and a policeman died, the Interior Ministry said.

Details of the attack on the two-story hotel with about 10 rooms near the regional capital, Makhachkala, were sketchy. But the ministry's southern Russia division said the action was launched after police failed to negotiate a surrender with the militants. (AP)

Duma Takes On Jury Trials

State Duma deputies passed legislation in a first reading Friday that would end jury trials on terrorism, treason and other charges.

The bill also would ban juries for such crimes as involvement in illegal armed units, violent seizure of power, armed rebellion and mass riots.

An opponent of the bill, Just Russia Deputy Yelena Mizulina, warned that the government could abuse the law to punish opposition figures who take part in rallies. The bill's author, Vladimir Vasilyev of United Russia, said it was needed because juries often have acquitted suspects despite strong evidence incriminating them. (AP)

Medvedev Signs DNA Law

President Dmitry Medvedev has signed into law a bill allowing the creation of a DNA database for serious offenders, the Kremlin said Friday.

The new law allows the government to extract and retain DNA data from those convicted of serious crimes such as murder and rape. (AP)

No More Red Stars

After more than 90 years, the Russian stars will no longer be all red. They'll be red, white and blue.

The State Duma voted 389 to 2 on Friday to replace Soviet-era red stars on military aircraft with ones bearing the three colors of the Russian national flag.

The Duma made the move even though the red star was officially restored as a military symbol and brought back to the military's parade banners in 2002. The stars had remained on the planes all along, however. (AP)

For the Record

Kyrgyzstan's state radio station has taken BBC programming off the airwaves, days after withdrawing broadcasting rights from U.S.-funded Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz service. (AP)

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko spurned parliament Friday, rejecting an invitation to a hearing to solve a political crisis and announcing instead a visit to Lithuania. (Reuters)