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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Afghan Talks



MOSCOW (MT) -- The Kremlin on Tuesday welcomed the opening of talks on the future government of Afghanistan as a step toward restoring normalcy, but Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov warned that global anti-terrorist operations were only in their opening phase and there were other countries sheltering terrorists that had not yet been touched.

The talks between Afghan political factions in Germany will help "turn Afghanistan into a peaceful and neutral state free from religious extremism, terrorism and narcotics, having normal relations with its neighbors and the rest of the world," said a Foreign Ministry statement, The Associated Press reported.

However, Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying Tuesday, "It is too early to make triumphant claims. The anti-terrorist operation is now in its first, initial stage and no more. The civilized world has not yet started to work on other countries where terrorists have nests."

It was not clear which countries Ivanov was referring to, but it was the first time any Russian figure of Ivanov's rank had even obliquely suggested that the U.S.-led fight against terrorism might be directed against countries other than Afghanistan, Reuters reported.




Czech Opposition



PRAGUE, Czech Republic (Reuters) -- Czech President Vaclav Havel said Tuesday he opposed any attempt to integrate Russia into NATO, warning it would hurt the alliance's identity and turn it into a new "boundless" institution such as the United Nations.

In an address to the Czech Senate, Havel said the alliance should act with self-restraint and caution before radically upgrading cooperation with its former Cold War foe.

"The alliance cannot casually offer membership to somebody with whom it has at the moment harmonic relations," Havel said, adding that he was referring to planned tighter cooperation between Russia and the alliance.

Havel said he would prefer cooperation between Russia and NATO as two separate entities, instead of any form of membership.




Sklyarov Hearing



SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- A resolution appears unlikely any time soon in the case of a Russian computer programmer charged with violating copyrights on Adobe Systems Inc. software.

At a hearing in a U.S federal court Monday, prosecutors and attorneys for Dmitry Sklyarov, 27, agreed to file motions in coming months, with pretrial hearings scheduled to begin March 4.

In the first criminal prosecution under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Sklyarov and his employer, ElcomSoft Co. Ltd. of Moscow, are charged with releasing a program that let readers disable restrictions on Adobe's electronic-book software. The program is legal in Russia.

Sklyarov was arrested after speaking at a hacking convention in Las Vegas on July 16. He could face up to five years in prison for each of the five counts against him; he and the company could be fined $500,000.




Smugglers Caught



MOSCOW (AP) -- Border guards apprehended two smugglers on horseback from Mongolia who had brought 7,000 marmot pelts worth 700,000 rubles ($23,000) into Russia in the biggest catch of illicit fur in the past decade, an official said Tuesday.

The Mongolian smugglers carried the pelts in sacks on their backs. They used cover of darkness to cross into Buryatia in Western Siberia, where they stored their merchandise at a farm with the help of two Russian accomplices, said Oleg Titov, a spokesman for the Baikal regional border guards.

In addition to arresting the two Mongols, the border guards detained the two Russians, as well as the wife of one of the Mongolian smugglers who had entered Russia earlier to set up the deal.




Far East Hit



VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- Assailants firing from two parked cars mortally wounded the director of Russia's largest Pacific Ocean port, Vostochny, police said Tuesday.

Leonid Bochkov died in a hospital three hours after the apparent contract killing Monday at the port, in the city of Nakhodka, about 6,400 kilometers east of Moscow.

Local police spokesman Fyodor Asalkhanov said Bochkov, 52, received two bullet wounds in the head and died after surgery.

The killers made their getaway in the two cars, but police said they intercepted the vehicles shortly after the attack and detained four men. Nakhodka prosecutors have opened an investigation.




Navy Suicide Probe



MOSCOW (MT) -- A criminal investigation has been started into the recent suicide of a Pacific Fleet officer, Interfax quoted Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo as saying Tuesday.

Commander Igor Vasilenko, who served on the Pacific Fleet's nuclear submarine Omsk, shot himself in the temple, Dygalo said.

According to the Pacific Fleet headquarters, the incident occurred Monday. Vasilenko was brought to the garrison hospital where he died without regaining consciousness.

The criminal investigation is being led by Pacific Fleet Deputy Commander Alexander Konev.

"The investigators are checking whether family problems may have been the cause of the officer's suicide," Dygalo said.

Vasilenko, born in 1968, was married and had a son.




Putin to Visit Britain



MOSCOW (MT) -- President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit Britain in December, British ambassador to Moscow Roderic Lyne said Tuesday, Prime-Tass reported. He said no exact date for the visit had been set yet.

Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are expected to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and relations between Russia and NATO.

The most recent meeting of the two leaders took place in early October, when Blair arrived on a one-day visit to Moscow.