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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ode to Edmond Pope

The Associated Press

Pavel Astakhov, the attorney for U.S. businessman Edmond Pope, asked a Moscow judge Friday to acquit his client of espionage charges — and read his closing argument in verse.

The former naval intelligence officer is accused of obtaining classified torpedo designs. Defense lawyer Andrei Andrusenko told the court that Russia cannot call the designs a state secret, as Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan also have the technology, and Kazakhstan has sold Shkval torpedos to China. Astakhov then read his closing argument — in verse.

He repeated fragments to reporters afterward: "I call on you to open your eyes, tune in your ears and speak the truth from your lips. There is one truth. He is not guilty."

Astakhov did not explain why he read the statement in verse. He praised the judge for recognizing its iambic pentameter, but said the court interpreter threw up his hands at the task of translating it.




Maskhadov Ally Jailed

The Moscow Times

A Chechen field commander and former Chechen security minister Turpal-Ali Atgeriyev was arrested in October by the Federal Security Service and has been in Lefortovo Prison ever since, Vremya Novostei newspaper reported Friday.

Interfax said sources in the so-called "power ministries," which include the military and police, have confirmed this information, but the FSB refused to comment.

Atgeriyev is a close ally of Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov. The paper cited his lawyer as saying he was arrested when he came to Moscow to discuss peace negotiations between the Kremlin and Maskhadov.




Cabinet Not in Danger

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin on Friday denied rumors that he was planning to sack his Cabinet, Interfax reported.

Putin told reporters the rumors were "ill-intentioned and unfounded," the agency reported from Belarus, where Putin was attending a meeting of the CIS. Media have been reporting for weeks that Putin was dissatisfied with Cabinet members, particularly Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, and would soon sack them. Kasyanov himself denied the speculation Wednesday.




Bears Over Siberia

The Associated Press

The Russian air force on Friday dismissed the Pentagon's claim that Moscow plans to fly its Tu-95 Bear bombers close to U.S. airspace off Alaska and described the aircraft deployment as a routine training mission.

The air force has moved several of the bombers to air bases in northern Siberia, and a spokesman for U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said the U.S. military anticipated some of the planes might be flown close to Alaska in a Cold War-style exercise.

Air force spokesman Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky confirmed that the bombers flew to northern Siberia for a regular training.




Visas to Slovakia

Reuters

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia — The Slovak Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that it would impose a visa regime on citizens of Russia and Belarus from Jan. 1.

The government had signaled earlier this year that it would require such visas. Russia said then it would reciprocate with visa rules for Slovaks, also from Jan. 1. Slovakia has said all the visa moves were aimed at harmonizing the country's policies with the European Union, which it hopes to join.