News in Brief

Yabloko Expels Yashin



The liberal Yabloko party expelled prominent youth activist Ilya Yashin from its ranks late Thursday over his leadership role in the new opposition movement Solidarity, Interfax reported.

Yashin's membership in the party came into question after he joined Solidarity at the organization's founding congress last weekend. The movement, which includes former world chess champion Garry Kasparov and other prominent Kremlin critics, was created in an attempt to unite the country's fractious political opposition.

Yabloko has been consistently reluctant to deepen cooperation with other opposition groups on the grounds that it could compromise the party's social-democratic identity.

Yabloko and Solidarity "deeply disagree on several key issues," Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin told Interfax. He added, however, that cooperation "on specific issues is possible, or even necessary." (MT)




FSB: 150 Spies Uncovered



Russian counterintelligence unmasked nearly 150 spies in 2008, including a network operating on behalf of neighboring Georgia, Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov said Thursday.

"Activities of 48 staff officers of foreign intelligence services have been stopped, as well as actions of 101 local agents of foreign special services," Bortnikov told an annual meeting with the national media.

Six foreign staff officers and three agents had been "caught red-handed," and nine foreigners accused of spying had been expelled, Bortnikov said.

Bortnikov said his agency had uncovered a network of agents of the Georgian special services in Russia. (Reuters)




Politkovskaya Juror Out



The judge in the case of three men on trial for the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya has removed a juror for failing to show up at court two days in a row, Interfax reported Thursday.

The judge at the Moscow District Military Court granted a request to remove the juror made by lawyers representing the family of Politkovskaya, who was killed in 2006, Interfax said. The court also ordered that Politkovskaya's phone records from the day of the murder be unsealed. (Bloomberg)




No Parole for Child Rapists?



The government may eliminate the possibility of parole for people convicted of raping a minor, Interfax reported Thursday, citing draft legislation.

A bill submitted to the State Duma would amend the Criminal Code to bar early release from prison for anyone convicted of "crimes directed against the sexual inviolability and sexual freedom of minors." (Bloomberg)