News in Brief

Jury Trial Bill Approved



The State Duma on Wednesday passed in a crucial second reading a bill that would eliminate jury trials for cases involving terrorism, espionage and attempts to overthrow the government.

The bill was introduced by the pro-Kremlin party United Russia, which says the legislation is necessary because juries in volatile southern regions have been lenient toward defendants accused of involvement in armed groups and organized crime.

Deputies passed the legislation by a vote of 343-95, Interfax reported. (MT)




Zimin Is Khakasia Governor



The republic of Khakasia's regional parliament on Wednesday confirmed State Duma Deputy Viktor Zimin as the next governor of the Siberian region.

Khakasia's Supreme Council confirmed Zimin by a vote of 66 to 3, Interfax reported. Zimin, head of United Russia's branch in Khakasia, was nominated for the post Tuesday by President Dmitry Medvedev.

Zimin, who will assume office Jan. 15, replaces Alexei Lebed, one of the last popularly elected governors before the Kremlin scrapped gubernatorial elections in 2005. (MT)




Shots Fired at Observers



TBILISI, Georgia -- Shots were fired at international monitors patrolling near the de facto border between Georgia and the breakaway territory of South Ossetia on Wednesday, but no one was hurt, Georgian police said.

A police spokesman said five shots hit an armored vehicle of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the windshield. (Reuters)




U.S. Honors Latynina



U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has presented Yulia Latynina, a journalist with Novaya Gazeta and a talk show host with Ekho Moskvy radio, with the U.S. Freedom Defenders Award.

"In her investigative reporting and hard-hitting commentary, Yulia has exposed corruption and abuses of authority among government officials as well as egregious human rights violations by both government authorities and private actors, particularly in the North Caucasus," Rice said at a ceremony Monday.

Latynina writes a weekly column for The Moscow Times. (MT)