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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


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Finnish Leader to Visit Russia

Finniush Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen is to come to Moscow on Tuesday for a two-day visit that will include a meeting with President Vladimir Putin, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday. Lipponen also will hold talks with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and a meeting is likely with Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of the Duma, the lower house of parliament, the ministry said in a statement. The talks are expected to focus on joint Russia-Finland efforts, including trade and economic matters, the statement said.

Five Die in Chechen Fighting

NAZRAN, Russia — Five Russian servicemen died and eight were wounded in fighting in Chechnya over the past 24 hours, an official in Chechnya's pro-Moscow administration said Saturday. Chechen rebels attacked Russian positions and checkpoints 19 times over the past day, including intensive clashes in the capital Grozny, Argun in southern Chechnya, and in the outskirts of Gudermes, Chechnya's second largest city, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. Three Russian servicemen were killed in the clashes, he said. Two other Russian soldiers were killed and eight were wounded when a military convoy came under attack late Friday on the road from Grozny to Khankala, the main Russian military base west of the capital, the official said. A prominent Chechen separatist, Movladi Udugov, said a group of rebels led by field commander Arbi Barayev attacked a police station in Argun on Friday, killing at least nine policemen.

No Guarantees for NTV Sale

A senior Russian official said on Saturday that foreign investors who wanted to buy shares in the embattled independent NTV television should not expect any preferences or guarantees from the Kremlin. ""The state cannot and has no right to create special conditions for any separate market player, including a player in the media market,"" Interfax news agency quoted Alexei Volin, an influential aide to Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, as saying. Volin's comments followed remarks by a group of foreign investors linked to U.S. media magnate Ted Turner, who said they were ready to clinch an investment deal in NTV provided they received pledges from the Kremlin that it would not interfere. NTV is part of Media-Most, Russia's only independent nationwide media empire. Media-Most is headed by Vladimir Gusinsky, who is now in Spain pending a decision on a Russian extradition request.

FinMin Hopes to Settle with Creditors

Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said on Saturday the government was looking for extra revenues to meet foreign debt obligations and hoped to settle all issues with creditors by the end of the first quarter. Russia drew a sharp response from the Paris Club of creditor nations earlier this month after it said funds were tight and it would be able to pay only a small part of the $1.6 billion it owed to the group in the first quarter. President Vladimir Putin on Friday gave the government three weeks to resolve what he described as technical, temporary problems with payments and to come up with ways of satisfying both foreign creditors and domestic spending needs. Kudrin told reporters the government would seek to amend the budget by mid-February so that a greater share of expected additional revenues could go towards foreign debt payments.

Latvians Mark Anniversary of Soviet Crackdown

RIGA, Latvia — Latvians built bonfires outside parliament and gathered in wintry chill Saturday to remember the five people shot to death by Soviet soldiers in the 1991 crackdown that failed to crush Latvia's independence movement. Parliament Speaker Janis Straume, in a special session to launch an evening of commemorative events, recalled the courage of countrymen who defended key Riga buildings by serving as human shields against possible military aggression. ""Your faith and determination flamed as brightly as the campfires.... They convinced the Soviets that terrorism was not going to force Latvians to concede,"" Straume said. Outside parliament, people filled the cobblestone streets to sing folk songs around bonfires similar to ones that warmed those who manned the makeshift barricades 10 years ago. ""There was a feeling that we had to be there, that the time to stand firm had come,"" recalled Ainars Alkis, a student when he participated in events a decade ago. On the night of Jan.
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