News in Brief

Cuban President to Visit

Cuban President Raul Castro is planning to visit Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday in the latest sign of warming ties between the Cold War allies.

"I hope that the coming visit to Russia of the head of the State Council and Council of Ministers of Cuba, Raul Castro, will give a serious impulse to our bilateral relations," Medvedev said.

Medvedev was speaking at the Kremlin after accepting the credentials of Cuba's new ambassador to Moscow. He did not say when Castro planned to visit.

Medvedev visited Havana in November. (Reuters)

4 Dead in Plane Collision

Two military transport planes collided at an airport in Dagestan, killing at least four people, officials said Friday.

An Il-76 aircraft was landing when it collided with another Il-76 on the runway at the main airport outside Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala. The accident also injured two people, officials said. (Reuters)

Bangladeshi Student Beaten

A Bangladeshi medical student was beaten by unknown assailants in southern Moscow late Thursday, RIA-Novosti reported.

The unidentified man was hit over the head with a heavy object during the attack but managed to make his way to a police station a few hours later to report the crime, the report said, citing a police source. It was unclear whether the attack was racially motivated.

A Cameroon national died following an attack by a group of unidentified assailants earlier this month. (MT)

New Editor at New Times

Journalist and radio host Yevgenia Albats has been appointed editor-in-chief of The New Times weekly magazine, Interfax reported.

Albats is known for her outspoken anti-Kremlin views. She previously worked as the deputy editor of The New Times and also hosts a talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio. (MT)

Hockey Death Suspensions

The Continental Hockey League suspended five officials on Friday in connection with last year's death of rising star Alexei Cherepanov.

The 19-year-old Cherepanov died in October after collapsing on the bench during a game between his club Avangard Omsk and Vityaz Chekhov. An autopsy showed he suffered from a chronic condition that obstructed blood to the heart and other organs.

The KHL announced that Avangard president Konstantin Potapov, general manager Anatoly Bardin and one of its team doctors, Sergei Belkin, were suspended indefinitely from positions in the league. Another Avangard doctor, Dmitry Batushenko, was suspended for two years. Vityaz president Mikhail Denisov was also suspended indefinitely. There were complaints that Vityaz did not have proper medical services at the Chekhov arena. (AP)

Strong Quake Shakes Kurils

GOLDEN, Colorado -- A strong quake struck early Friday outside the Kuril Islands, shaking the territory long disputed by Russia and Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

The magnitude 7.3 quake struck 430 kilometers southeast of the four-island chain, which has prime fishing grounds and has about 17,000 inhabitants, nearly all Russian.

There were no reports of damage or injuries on the remote islands. (AP)

No Plans to Close Air Base

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- The United States has no plans to close its military air base in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. regional military chief said Saturday.

A source close to Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's office said Jan. 13 that the country was preparing a statement announcing the closure of the base, a key U.S. staging post for its operations in nearby Afghanistan.

But U.S. Central Command chief General David Petraeus, visiting Tajikistan as part of a regional tour that also took him to Kyrgyzstan last weekend, said the United States had no plans to stop using the airbase. "We look forward to discussing the future of the base there, and we certainly have no plans to change anything, frankly," he told reporters. (Reuters)

Kyrgyz Politician Detained

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz police detained an prominent opposition leader on Saturday, accusing him and his supporters of trying to organize an illegal protest.

Omurbek Tekebayev, head of the opposition Ata Meken party, said he had been detained in the northern Talas region where his party had been due to hold a conference.

"I have been detained," he said by telephone from a regional detention center. "They are now processing documentation accusing me of trying to hold an unsanctioned rally."

A Kyrgyz Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed Tekebayev's detention but could not give more details.

Tekebayev, long at odds with Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has recently sharpened his criticism of the authorities and used difficult economic times, caused by a global financial crisis, to unite the opposition. (Reuters)

Conductor Dudarova Dies

Conductor Veronika Dudarova, who led Moscow orchestras for 60 years, has died at the age of 92.

Dudarova's death Thursday in a Moscow hospital was announced by representatives of North Ossetia, where she was from. No cause of death was given.

Dudarova became a conductor at the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra in 1947 and in 1960 was named chief conductor and artistic director. She left the orchestra in 1989. From 1991 until she died she headed the Symphony Orchestra of Russia, which she had founded.

A memorial service will be held Monday in the Moscow Conservatory. (AP)