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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Spy Jets Tracked


The air force spots and tracks more than 100 foreign spy planes around its borders every month, Interfax reported Thursday.

The head of the air force, General Anatoly Kornukov, told Interfax that air defense forces had sent up interceptors 30 times in the past year to chase off planes trying to violate Russian airspace. There were 10 cases when foreign planes breached air defenses.

Each month, up to 70 foreign military reconnaissance planes were tracked in the Far East, up to 20 over the Arctic Barents Sea and up to 15 over the Baltic Sea, he said.

During the Cold War, aircraft from both sides regularly flew missions to test defenses. That practice tailed off after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, but still continues.

Last month, the Pentagon said Russian Tu-95 bombers had been moved to the Far North with a view to testing U.S. air defenses. But Kornukov later denied this, saying the crews were taking advantage of fresh fuel supplies to train in Arctic conditions.

Tyumen Picks Leader

The Moscow Times

A group of Central Elections Commission officials was to leave Thursday to monitor fiercely fought gubernatorial elections this weekend in the Tyumen region, Interfax reported.

In election campaigns marred with accusations of misconduct, incumbent Governor Leonid Roketsky will be challenged Sunday by Sergei Sobyanin, deputy to the president’s representative to the Urals Federal District.

Sobyanin, who portrays himself as the Kremlin’s candidate, is also supported by the incumbent governors of the Khanty-Mansiisk and Yamal-Nenets autonomous districts. Located in the north of the region, the thinly populated districts rich with natural gas and other resources have some of the highest per capita incomes in Russia.

Although part of the Tyumen region, the two districts hold a special status and will hold their own elections Sunday.

Also Sunday, elections will be held in the Nenets Autonomous District in the Arkhangelsk region.

Incumbent Governor Vladimir Butov was to face charges of campaign violations in an Arkhangelsk regional court Friday.

Ambassador Snubbed

The Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus — In a snub to the United States, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus failed to invite the newly named U.S. ambassador to his traditional "Old New Year’s" reception.

Lukashenko traditionally invites foreign diplomats accredited to Belarus for a celebration Jan. 13, the day the country marks the new year according to the Orthodox calendar.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Pavel Latushko told a regular news briefing an invitation had not been sent to Michael Kozak, who arrived in Minsk on Oct. 20 and has been waiting ever since to present his diplomatic credentials.

So far, Kozak has not obtained a meeting with Lukashenko, and it is unclear when he officially will be able to assume his duties.