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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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2-year-old has heart surgery

Nikita Mitriayev, the 2-year-old recipient of funds raised during last year's Mad Hatter Ball, is on his way home to Moscow following successful surgery in the United States. Nikita was born with a serious cardiac defect that made it unlikely he would live beyond age five. On July 13 surgeons at the University of Wisconsin Hospital connected a vein from Nikita's shoulder to his lungs, which increased the flow of oxygen. The child will return to the Wisconsin hospital in two years for surgery to correct the malfunctioning valve, a family friend said. ""Nikita shows much more energy - walking, jumping and playing with my grandson, who is about the same age"", said Sarah Harder, who helped arrange the surgery. Last October, two American businessmen based in Moscow held a charity event that raised $2, 700 for Nikita. Healing the Children, a Wisconsin charity, agreed in May to pay transportation and hospitalization. Doctors at the hospital waived medical fees.

Russian politicians face off in Kurile row

The Kurile Islands have become a political battleground this week between Russia's Foreign Ministry and parliament. The development follows a warning last week from a senior member of the parliamentary committee on international relations, Viktor Sheinis, who said in an interview that because of disagreements over the future status of the Kurile Island territories, ""now is not a very favorable time"" for President Boris Yeltsin to plan a visit to Tokyo. That visit is due to start on Sept. 15. On July 24 the chairman of parliament's Constitutional Commission, Oleg Rumyantsev, proposed that deputies vote to recommend postponement of the presidential visit unless Yeltsin and parliament first agreed on the constitutional limits of the president's power to negotiate the future of the islands. A closed-door hearing on this issue was called by Rumyantsev at the Supreme Soviet on Tuesday.

African students demand stipend hikes With prices rocketing, dorm life has become a battle for survival

For the seventh consecutive day, Samuel Omandi awoke inside his shanty beside litter and militia guards at the doorstep of the Kenyan Embassy. The 25-year-old agriculture student is one of 15 Kenyans protesting the low stipend he receives as a student in Moscow ""I will stay here as long as there are no positive results"", Omandi said Wednesday ""Our government has closed its ears to our demand for money"". For the last seven months African students like Omandi have been making independent pleas to embassy officials for more funds, but have seen little results Over the last two weeks the students have stepped up their lobbying efforts by forming united fronts on the doorsteps of more than seven African embassies in Moscow. Omandi says he can no longer live on his paltry 370-ruble monthly stipend meted out by the Russian government. Omandi, like thousands of African students studying in the former Soviet Union, has become caught in the crossfire of change.

Visas: The scam Fake invitations are sold outside Western embassies

Every day they can be found at the U. S. , French and German embassies, working the lines, fleecing the scores of Russians who dream of starting a new life in the West. They are a new breed of opportunists operating a small-time visa scam in which they sell applications for entry visas to foreign countries and forged invitations for Russian exit visas to would-be Russian emigrants. Business is thriving. Consular officials at three Moscow embassies said this week that both scams are on the rise. ""It started out about a year ago with a few forged invitations"", said a consular officer who requested anonymity. ""Most of them were obvious. Now we see about 500 false documents a month, and they have improved"". The officer attributed the increase to stringent French government requirements for invitations. ""It is getting more difficult now to obtain invitations in France"", she said. An employee at the U. S. Embassy's visa section said that the going rate for such forgeries was about 900 rubles.
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