News in Brief

7 Detained at Moscow Rally



Moscow police detained seven people on Sunday for holding a small, unsanctioned protest in memory of a human rights lawyer and a journalist who were killed in January.

Police spokesman Maxim Kolosvetov said the protesters were rounded up near the place where lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasiya Baburina were gunned down. "They will be released after a short explanatory conversation," he said. (AP)




New Georgian Premier



TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's former finance minister, Nika Gilauri, was endorsed as the country's fifth prime minister in five years on Friday, promising to tackle the economic fallout of war with Russia and the financial crisis.

Gilauri, 33, replaces Grigol Mgaloblishvili, who resigned a week earlier after just three months in the job, citing poor health.

Parliament voted 106-8 to endorse Gilauri as prime minister and Kakha Baindurashvili, 30, as his replacement at the Finance Ministry. (Reuters)




Call for Ukrainian Vote Date



KIEV -- Ukraine's parliamentary speaker said the country's bickering leaders must agree quickly on a presidential election in January next year to avert any risk of pitching the country into renewed uncertainty or disorder.

"I believe Jan. 17 is the date set down in the constitution," Volodymyr Lytvyn, who occupies the third-most powerful position in the political hierarchy, said in an interview late last week. (Reuters)




Japanese Fishermen Freed



TOKYO -- The coast guard on Saturday released all 10 Japanese crew members seized aboard a fishing boat in late January after purportedly straying into Russian waters, Japanese officials said.

The president of Hiyoshi Suisan, a seafood processor that owns the boat, announced Thursday that the crew would be released after the company paid an undisclosed fine as part of a negotiated agreement to release the vessel and crew. (AP)




Vilnius Ready for Better Ties



VILNIUS, Lithuania -- Lithuania's foreign minister said he was ready to warm up ties with Russia, a marked change in tone for a nation that last year was the only EU state against restarting cooperation talks with Moscow.

"Signals toward warming up relations have come from both sides, from Vilnius and Moscow," said Vygaudas Usackas, in an interview last week.

Usackas said one sign of better relations was Russia's willingness to work more on judicial issues, including the case of a Lithuanian businessman missing in Kaliningrad. In turn, Lithuania has tried to float the idea in the EU of a special visa-free regime for people in Kaliningrad. (Reuters)




2 Camels Freeze at Customs



DONETSK, Ukraine -- Two camels, part of a circus bound for Bulgaria, died in freezing temperatures on Russia's border with Ukraine after waiting five days for permission to cross, local news agencies reported Friday.

The dead camels were among a group of 20 that had come by truck from the republic of Kalmykia.

Ukrainian officials feared that the animals might carry the highly contagious African Swine Disease and were waiting for their veterinary documents, the reports said. But Anatoly Prigodin, a senior Ukrainian veterinary official, said the camels had been given permission to enter Ukraine but were on their way to Novorossiisk to be sent to Bulgaria by boat. "The Ukrainian side acted in an entirely proper fashion," he said.

(Reuters)