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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Putin in Seoul

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — President Vladimir Putin arrived in Seoul on Monday night for a trip aimed, in part, at changing Russia's undefined role on the Korean peninsula. He was scheduled to leave Wednesday.

Trade will feature in talks between Putin and President Kim Dae-jung. The two sides are expected to discuss a possible South Korean purchase of Russian military hardware to settle debts owed by Moscow.

The Soviet Union opened diplomatic ties with South Korea in 1990 and got a massive infusion of aid in return. Russia appears eager to play a role in the reconciliation process between the two Koreas.

Human Rights Woes

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Russia's government has serious human rights problems and its victims include Chechens, the press and its prison population, the U.S. State Department said Monday.

"Although the government generally respected the human rights of its citizens … serious problems remain," the department said in its annual report on human rights around the world.

That included "the independence and freedom of the media and the conditions of pretrial detention and torture of prisoners," it said. "Its record was poor in Chechnya, where the Russian security forces demonstrated little respect for basic human rights."

Communist Victory

The Associated Press

CHISINAU, Moldova — Calling closer ties to Moscow "inevitable" after his party's sweeping election victory, the head of the Communists said Monday he would call a referendum on joining Moldova to a union of Russia and Belarus.

Vladimir Voronin made the announcement in a radio interview with Radio Free Europe. His decision reflected concerns by opponents that the country would move closer into Russian orbit.

Near-final results of Sunday's parliamentary election gave the Communists slightly more than half the votes. The Communists will hold nearly 70 percent of seats in the 101-seat parliament.

Voronin, 59, also said he would like to make Russian an official language — "for social peace" — alongside Moldovan.

Yeltsin in Hospital

The Associated Press

Former President Boris Yeltsin, hospitalized a month ago with what was described as a viral infection, is recovering more slowly than expected and will remain in the hospital for more analysis, an aide said Monday.

The announcement came after President Vladimir Putin visited his predecessor in the government's Central Clinical Hospital on his way to South Korea.

Yeltsin was hospitalized three weeks ago with a fever and suspected viral infection. He has been recovering "more slowly than the doctors initially believed," Vladimir Shevchenko, Yeltsin's protocol chief, said Monday, according to Interfax. He gave no further details.

Gil-Robles Visit


The Council of Europe's human rights supremo started a visit to Russia on Monday to study the situation in war-torn Chechnya.

Alvaro Gil-Robles, human rights commissioner for the Strasbourg-based democracy watchdog, will visit Chechnya on Tuesday and Wednesday after talks in Moscow.

Gil-Robles met the republic's Kremlin-appointed Prime Minister Vladimir Yelagin and Sergei Yastrzhembsky, chief Kremlin spokesman on the region, focusing mainly on ways to boost humanitarian aid to the war-devastated province.

Yelagin said in televised comments that the government would set up in the next few days a special commission to coordinate the flow of humanitarian aid to Chechnya, which would include representatives of international humanitarian organizations.

Lawmaker Fined

The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A court in Dubai on Monday found a Russian legislator guilty of involuntary manslaughter in a traffic death and ordered him to pay 86,000 dirhams ($23,560) in blood money and fines, court officials said Monday.

Alexander Popov, 53, was in Dubai on a private visit when he ran over a 22-year-old tailor, Nthi-hien, as she crossed a busy road Jan. 15.

Both Popov and the prosecution have 15 days to appeal. Popov represents the Rostov region in the Federation Council.

He was in the Emirates on a tourist visa and was not under diplomatic immunity.

Under sharia, or Islamic law, a person who causes the death of another must pay blood money to the victim's family. Currently, the blood money payable to the relatives of a male road accident victim in the Emirates is $41,000. Relatives of female victims receive half of that.

Progress Launched


Russia has launched a cargo ship taking food, fuel and equipment to the international space station, mission control said Monday.

"The main task is to deliver fuel and a payload … of scientific equipment, food, personal hygiene products, a medical kit and American equipment for experiments," said a spokeswoman for mission control outside Moscow.

A Progress cargo capsule blasted off from Baikonur around 11 a.m. Moscow time. The ship is due to dock with the ISS on Wednesday, the spokeswoman said.

Visa Seekers Stranded

The Associated Press

TBILISI, Georgia — Snow avalanches have killed one traveler and left hundreds of Georgians stranded on their way to receive Russian visas before a March 1 deadline, officials said Monday.

The key mountain pass between Russia and Georgia was closed because of the heavy snowfall, leaving about 400 stuck over the weekend, said Georgian Emergency Department spokesman Tamaz Goguadze.

The Georgians live and work in Russia and were trying to reach the consulate in Tbilisi to receive visas.