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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Arrest in Energy Crisis

The Associated Press

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East — The chief of a municipal heating company in the Far East has been arrested for negligence in a severe energy crisis that left thousands of people without heat for weeks, officials said Thursday.

Sergei Melnikov, responsible for heating in the city of Artyom, was the first suspect arrested in connection with the heating shortages, which have stoked political quarrels and mutual accusations among local and federal officials.

If found guilty, Melnikov could face a fine or up to three months in prison, the prosecutor’s office in the Primorye region said Thursday.

The regional prosecutor’s office said it has opened 11 criminal probes into the heating crisis, which left some 40,000 Primorye residents without heat in their apartments at times this winter, as temperatures outside plunged below freezing.




Tax Evasion Service

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin has approved plans to create a financial intelligence service that would investigate money laundering and tax evasion, officials said.

Tax police chief Vyacheslav Soltaganov proposed to Putin on Wednesday that a special financial intelligence department be formed, the press service of the tax police said.

Putin approved the proposal, the service said without providing any details.

Soltaganov only quoted Putin as saying that tax police should work "within the limits of law," Interfax reported.




Maskhadov Wounded?

Reuters

The Kremlin said that Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov had been wounded over a month ago, but a rebel spokesman denied the report.

Interfax quoted the office of Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky as saying Maskhadov’s driver and two bodyguards had been killed in a special military operation Nov. 7. Maskhadov was wounded, but escaped and was in hiding, the report said.

Umar Sugaipov of the Chechen Information Center in London denied the report. The center is run by Maskhadov’s government.




4 Chinese Killed

The Associated Press

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East — Four Chinese citizens were found dead with knife and bullet wounds near a garbage dump in Vladivostok, police reported Thursday.

A police spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that police were investigating the theory that the killers had seen their victims gambling at a local casino Wednesday and robbed them. She said that another Chinese citizen had escaped the killers and alerted police.




Russia Supports Iraq

Reuters

UNITED NATIONS — Russia blocked a UN committee Wednesday from telling buyers of Iraq oil not to pay a surcharge Baghdad is reportedly demanding for its crude exports, meeting participants reported.

U.S. officials had proposed the Security Council’s Iraqi sanctions committee ask oil companies "not to pay a surcharge of any kind to Iraq." Oil industry sources have said Baghdad has asked for 40 cents a barrel.

Russia’s envoy was the sole committee member to object, Western diplomats said, adding that he expressed concern over the statement’s timing and over Iraq’s reaction, as it has not admitted to asking buyers to pay the surcharge.