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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Parties Unite

MOSCOW (MT) -- The leaders of the Unity, Fatherland and All Russia parties will unite their efforts and create a new party called the All-Russian Party of Unity and the Fatherland, Interfax reported Wednesday.

"[Sergei] Shoigu, [Mintimer] Shaymiyev and [Yury] Luzhkov, the founding fathers of the three parties, will become co-chairmen of the new party," said Alexander Bespalov, committee chairman of the union.

The party sees its leader as President Vladimir Putin. "There is a unifying force in this party, and we all know this man," Bespalov said.

The party plans to propose its members as candidates for government positions, and will form a shadow Cabinet that will be ready to replace existing Cabinet members when the time comes, he said.

Mideast Accord

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it largely agreed with Washington in its approach to seeking a Middle East peace settlement as set out in a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday.

"The vision of ways of overcoming Palestinian-Israeli confrontation and achieving an overall settlement in the region outlined by [Powell] is largely in line with Russia's position," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said in an interview released by the ministry.

Ivanov welcomed Powell's announced intention to cooperate with Russia in helping Israel and the Palestinians resolve the conflict, including monitoring and verification.

Senior Officials Fired

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (Reuters) -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev dismissed two senior officials Wednesday amid a row over the pace of political reforms.

The president's press secretary, Asylbek Bisenbayev, told a news conference in the capital Astana that Uraz Dzhandosov, a deputy prime minister and former central banker, had been sacked along with Deputy Defense Minister Zhanat Yertlesov.

The two men, who had earlier offered to step down if the president so wished, were part of a political group formed last weekend with a pledge to deepen political reforms.

Weapons Destroyed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A state commission tasked with destroying Russia's 40,000-ton stockpile of nerve and chemical agents said Wednesday it had destroyed all of its category three chemical weapons -- the lowest -- ahead of schedule, evidence of a commitment to destroy the vast arsenal it inherited from the Soviet Union.

"The destruction of chemical weapons of the third category ? has today been fully completed," said Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the commission. "That means all our bombs and ammunition and the rest are no longer weapons ? [and] can never again be used as weapons."

Ministers Confirmed

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia's parliament Wednesday confirmed four members of the new Cabinet proposed by President Eduard Shevardnadze last week, including Defense Minister David Tevzadze, who preserved his post through the recent government crisis.

Shevardnadze's list of 19 nominees included 14 from the previous Cabinet, including Tevzadze and Foreign Minister Irakly Mengarishvili.

Also approved Wednesday were Justice Minister Roland Giligashvili, who preserved his post, and newcomers Koba Narchemashvili as interior minister and Valery Khaburzania as security minister.

Accepted in Absentia

Moscow (MT) -- Exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky joined the Liberal Russia movement as a member of its political council, Interfax reported Wednesday.

Duma Deputy Sergey Yushenkov, deputy chairman of the movement, said the decision to accept Berezovsky was made unanimously at a meeting of the political council Wednesday.

When asked how Berezovsky, wanted by Russian authorities, would take part in the council's work from abroad, Yushenkov said Berezovsky would participate in preparing all materials, "and would vote on decisions over the telephone or by proxy."

Candidates Approved

MOSCOW (MT) -- Four political parties -- Unity, Fatherland, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces -- have approved a unified list of candidates for the Moscow City Duma elections, but have delayed its publication, Interfax reported Wednesday.

According to one of the participants of the agreement, all the candidates have been registered.

However, questions have arisen about some of the Duma hopefuls' registration. Specifically, Yevgeny Balashov, who is currently a deputy and on the agreed list of candidates, has had his registration revoked.

Minister: No Repeats

MOSCOW (AP) -- Ukraine's new defense minister said Wednesday that his nation was determined to avoid a repeat of last month's accident in which a Ukrainian missile downed a Russian passenger plane.

"We intend to do everything possible to rule out similar tragic incidents," Ukrainian Defense Minister Vladimir Shkidchenko said in Moscow on Wednesday.

Shkidchenko replaced Defense Minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk, who was fired along with his aides on Oct. 24 over the catastrophe.

For The Record

Human error was to blame for the Nov. 7 train crash on the Trans-Siberian Railroad near Itat-Tisul, according to the head of the Krasnoyarsk railroad, Pyotr Kucherenko, Interfax reported Wednesday. Workers at the Bogotol station, who did not notice a defect in one of the ill-fated train's cargo cars in time, caused the 15-car derailment, he said. (MT)

The trial of Chechen rebel Salman Raduyev adjourned Wednesday after many witnesses summoned by the court failed to appear. Court officials said the trial will resume Monday, allowing some of the witnesses to reach the court in Makhachkala. (AP)