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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Stroyev Resigns

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The long-serving speaker of the Federation Council, Yegor Stroyev, resigned Tuesday, bowing out of a chamber stripped by President Vladimir Putin of its clout as a power base for regional bosses.

Stroyev's largely symbolic gesture was announced by a fellow member of the Federation Council, Interfax reported. It comes as part of Putin's reform of the upper house under which governors can no longer sit in parliament. Stroyev's resignation became inevitable after he easily won re-election as governor of Oryol earlier this year.

Emerging as a frontrunner to head the chamber is Sergei Mironov, head of the local assembly in Putin's native city of St. Petersburg who is seen as close to the Kremlin.

Mideast Concerns

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Tuesday that Russia was "extremely concerned" by escalating violence in the Middle East and urged Palestinian leaders to stop extremists wrecking any political settlement.

"The Palestinian leadership must take tough measures against extremist political organizations to prevent them from upsetting steps toward a political settlement," Ivanov said.

Ivanov's comments came on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in the Romanian capital, Bucharest.

Ivanov also said that Russia and the United States, as co-sponsors of the collapsed Middle East peace process, agreed Tuesday to work together to "avoid the worst" in the Middle East.

"The situation in the Middle East has reached a critical stage," he told reporters after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Ivanov, who was due to meet Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres later Tuesday, said he and Powell had agreed to coordinate their diplomatic efforts in the Middle East.

Negotiator Killed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Police in Chechnya found the body of a top official and former peace negotiator Tuesday, the latest in a long list of prominent local figures to die in the conflict.

Interfax said Risvan Lorsanov, who brokered talks between Russian authorities and separatists leading to the end of the first Chechen conflict in 1996, had been found by his wrecked car off a highway.

Interfax quoted local authorities as saying the car carrying Lorsanov and two passengers had apparently driven over an explosive device, probably a landmine, last Friday.

His two companions were found dead with him. The exact circumstances surrounding the incident were unclear.

Lorsanov's death emerged as a delegation from the Council of Europe human rights body, headed by Britain's Lord Judd, toured the region.

Judd was visiting Tuesday one of the camps just outside Chechnya housing some 170,000 refugees who have fled the latest war launched by Russian forces against separatists in 1999.

Raduyev Trial

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan (AP) -- Two women serving prison sentences for the 1997 bombing of a railway station in southern Russia testified Tuesday that they were following the orders of Salman Raduyev, the Chechen warlord on trial for terrorism and other crimes.

Fatima Taimaskhanova and Aiset Dadasheva testified that they were ordered to plant a bomb at the railway station in Pyatigorsk, a resort town in the north Caucasus, by Raduyev's deputy, Vakha Dzhafarov. Taimaskhanova said she was certain Dzhafarov was simply passing on Raduyev's order.

Raduyev said the women had been pressured into testifying against him.

Two people were killed and more than a dozen injured in the April 1997 bombing in Pyatigorsk.

Reaction to U.S. Tests

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia gave a muted response Tuesday to the latest U.S. missile defense tests.

"We knew about the tests, we were warned about them. Let's see what happens in the future," Itar-Tass quoted Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying of Monday's downing of a dummy warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean.

Submarine Inaugurated

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday visited a northern shipyard to inaugurate a new nuclear submarine during a trip intended to boost the navy's morale.

Putin briskly walked to the Gepard nuclear submarine built by the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk, handing over a flag to its captain and welcoming the crew, which snapped to attention on the deck.

"I congratulate you on the launch of your submarine," Putin said. "The navy has received a ship it can be proud of."

For the Record

Mourners gathered Tuesday to pay their last respects to space designer Gleb Lozino-Lozinsky, best known for his work developing the Soviet space shuttle. He died last week in Moscow at the age of 91. (AP)

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev will not attend the Nobel Peace Prize centennial celebrations in Norway next week for health reasons, his office said. (AP)

A cargo plane on its way to China made an emergency landing in Siberia on Tuesday, officials said. The crew requested an emergency landing shortly after takeoff from Irkutsk airport, said Viktor Zamotayev, deputy chief of the Eastern Siberian division of the Federal Aviation Service. The plane landed safely, he said. (AP)

Salvage workers have found the bodies of all 18 people killed when a military cargo plane crashed in the Far East, emergency officials said Tuesday. (AP)