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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

German Beef Ban


Russia has banned imports of live cattle from the German states of Bavaria, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony due to fears about mad cow disease, the Agriculture Ministry said Tuesday.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is believed to be linked to the spread of the deadly human brain disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

Germany has confirmed a total of 16 cases of BSE since national tests were launched after the emergence of its first case last November.

The ministry said in a statement that the veterinary services of Russia and Germany held talks in Berlin last week on joint measures aimed at preventing the spread of the disease and strengthening controls over meat supplies.

German veterinarians agreed to keep their Russian counterparts posted on developments, it said.

In December, Russia banned live cattle imports from the Netherlands and restricted beef imports from Portugal, Switzerland, Ireland, France and Britain because of fears over BSE.

Reporters, Watch Out


PARIS Colombia and Russia are the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, a media watchdog group said Tuesday.

In a statement, the World Association of Newspapers said 10 reporters were killed last year in Colombia and six in Russia. Colombia is in the grip of a decades-old civil war, while Russia is fighting a war in Chechnya.

The Paris-based group said 53 reporters were killed worldwide in 2000 down from 71 killed in 1999. But despite the encouraging figures, some worrisome trends have emerged.

"Unfortunately, far more journalists were killed in their homes and offices," said Anne-Marie Stott, a policy adviser for the group. "This is a disturbing trend many of them appear to be retributive attacks."

Antarctic Station Plan


HOBART, Australia An Australian company said Tuesday it had won a contract to build a large scientific base for Russia in the Antarctic.

Sayers Buck Pty. Ltd. said it would construct the base for the Russian governments Antarctic program at Larsemann Hills in eastern Antarctica, some 10 kilometers from a Russian port and about 200 kilometers from Australias Davis Station.

Russia and 28 other nations maintain scientific and other facilities in the Antarctic.

The new facility, with room for about 25 people in two buildings, will replace an older base that is causing serious environmental problems, the company said.

Sayers Buck, which is involved in several Antarctic programs, declined to give details on the value of the contract, saying they were still being worked out.

Kiev Denounced


PARIS A Paris-based international press rights group accused Ukrainian judicial authorities on Tuesday of serious failings in their probes into the disappearance of Georgy Gongadze, a journalist critical of President Leonid Kuchma.

Reporters Sans Fronti?res called on Ukraine to launch a new investigation into the disappearance of Gongadze, saying the public prosecutor had mostly sought so far to absolve authorities of responsibility.

A decapitated corpse found in November outside Kiev is thought to be that of the journalist, who ran an Internet site critical of Kuchma.

RSF made its accusations in a report following a weeklong visit to Kiev by an RSF delegation this month. The group said the delegation interviewed dozens of people, including Kuchma.

"RSF denounces the grave failings of Ukrainian judicial authorities in their investigation of Georgy Gongadzes murder," the report said.

Smuggled Fish Seized

The Associated Press

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) Customs officers seized two trucks attempting to smuggle 3.5 tons of sturgeon and pickled jellyfish into China, officials said Tuesday.

Two Russian truckers were stopped Monday at the Poltavka checkpoint in the Primorsky region, the regional customs department said. One truck was carrying 2.5 tons of sturgeon, coveted for its caviar, and the other contained barrels holding a ton of jellyfish, a delicacy in China.

The fish were stashed under scraps of metal designated for export, the department said.

Reactor Shuts Down

The Associated Press

MOSCOW A reactor at the Smolensk nuclear plant was shut down Tuesday by its automatic safety system after an unexplained malfunction, according to an official statement.

There was no radiation leak or danger to the plants personnel, said the statement from Rosenergoatom, the state nuclear power monopoly.

The safety system shut off reactor No. 2 at the Smolensk nuclear power station. Operators were studying what caused the malfunction, the statement said.

Ukraine Deputy Dies

The Associated Press

KIEV A member of Ukraines parliament was found dead from a gunshot wound in his office in eastern Ukraine, police said Tuesday.

The body of Yuriy Kononenko, 45, a lawmaker with the pro-government Peoples Democratic Party, was found late Monday in the city of Kharkiv near the Russian border, a spokesman for the Interior Ministrys Kharkiv department said.

Police were investigating several possible scenarios, including suicide, the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

Kononenko had been a member of the parliaments committee on press and information freedom since February 2000. The committee has in recent months actively discussed a political scandal surrounding last falls disappearance of journalist Georgy Gongadze, who was critical of the government in his reports. Opposition politicians allege Gongadze was killed and that government officials were linked to the death, a charge the government fiercely denies.

The spokesman in Kharkiv said police had no evidence linking the two cases.

Guilty Caviar Plea

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES When Elena Voronina told customs agents she intended to serve $20,000 worth of caviar at a childrens birthday party, they thought it sounded fishy.

On Monday, Voronina pleaded guilty to smuggling the delicacy and could be sentenced to five years in prison.

Voronina, a 34-year-old of Russian origin and living in Los Angeles, was arrested in July at Los Angeles International Airport after customs officials found almost 26 kilograms of caviar in her bags.

She had arrived on an Aeroflot flight and said she had nothing to declare at customs. Caviar imports to the United States require a federal permit. Voronina had none.