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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Quake Rattles Kurils

The Associated Press

HONG KONG — A magnitude 5.8 earthquake jolted the Kuril Islands in the Far East on Thursday, the Hong Kong Observatory said. No injuries or damage were immediately reported.

The quake hit at 0:55 a.m. local time in the Kuril Islands and was centered about 130 kilometers south of the town of Kurilsk.

Tunnel Plot Averted

The Associated Press

NAZRAN, Ingushetia — Federal forces averted a rebel plan to bomb a police station using a lengthy tunnel, an official said Thursday.

Authorities on Wednesday evening discovered a 30-meter tunnel in Gudermes, Chechnya’s second largest town. The tunnel led from a residential house toward a police station and was packed with explosives, an official in Chechnya’s Kremlin-appointed administration said on condition of anonymity. Russian sappers defused the explosives Thursday, he said.

Meanwhile, seven soldiers were killed and 16 were wounded in Chechnya in the past 24 hours, he said.

Israelis Talk Peace

The Associated Press

Top Israeli officials have made a one-day visit to Moscow to brief Russian diplomats on the Middle East peace process and ask Russia to use its influence to discourage violence in the region.

Israeli Cabinet secretary Yitzhak Herzog and Danny Yatom, Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s political and security adviser, met Wednesday with Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeyev. They gave Avdeyev a message from Barak for President Vladimir Putin.

Herzog said on RTR television that he delivered a message from Barak to Putin about Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat’s meetings in Washington. The contents of the letter were not made public.

10 Months for Fraud

The Associated Press

CHICAGO— A Russian who worked as an agricultural marketing official at the U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg has been sentenced to 10 months for helping two fellow countrymen commit visa fraud.

Igor Galitsky, 43, was convicted in September of lying when he vouched for his fellow countrymen as legitimate business executives who wanted to attend a food marketing trade show in the United States. Galitsky was sentenced Wednesday.

He has spent the last eight months in the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago and must stay there for several more weeks under federal Judge Harry Leinenweber’s sentence.

Pleading for mercy, Galitsky told Leinenweber on Wednesday that he once associated with professors and business executives but now is penned in with drug dealers and bank robbers at the correctional center.

"My life has been destroyed," he said.

Schroder Visits

The Associated Press

BERLIN — German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and his wife Doris will celebrate Orthodox Christmas in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin and his wife, a government spokesman said.

The weekend visit is billed as private, but spokesman Bela Anda told reporters Wednesday that political discussions were likely.

The leaders and their wives will share lunch in the Kremlin on Saturday, followed by a performance of the Bolshoi ballet company.

The couples will celebrate Orthodox Christmas at a midnight Mass beneath the golden domes of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.

On Sunday, they will travel to the former summer residence of the tsars, Kolomenskoe. They are also to lunch with Patriarch Alexy II in Sergiyev Posad.

62% Mark Christmas

The Moscow Times

The number of Russians who will celebrate Orthodox Christmas on Jan. 7 has declined from last year, Interfax reported Thursday.

A survey by the All-Russia Center for the Study of Public Opinion found that 62 percent of Russians plan to mark Christmas this weekend, down from 67 percent in 2000, Interfax said.

The number, however, is still higher than the 57 percent who celebrated the holiday in 1998.

The survey of 1,600 Russians conducted at the end of December found that the festive-minding respondents tended to be mainly women and men in top management positions.