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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Soyuz Redocked

The Associated Press

The three crew members aboard the International Space Station, Alpha, repositioned a Soyuz module Saturday to make room for a Russian supply ship to dock, officials said.

The Soyuz TM-31, piloted by cosmonaut Yury Gidzenko, was undocked from the station and flown around to a different docking port, said Nikolai Lipatov, chief of operations at Mission Control.

The repositioning of the Soyuz sets the stage for the docking of a Russian Progress resupply ship that will be carrying supplies for the next crew to man the station. The Progress M-44 will be launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome on Monday and is to dock Wednesday.

U.S. Strip Club Trial


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A March 19 trial date has been set for four people accused of using false pretenses to bring Russian folk dancers to Alaska then forcing them to dance topless and nude at a strip club, a U.S. federal prosecutor said Friday.

The defendants are a married couple from the Anchorage suburb of Chugiak, a well-known dance instructor from the Krasnodar region of Russia and a Russian-American man who operated a web site advertising "Russian brides" and "Sex tours of St. Petersburg," according to legal documents.

Maximum penalty for some of the charges they face is life imprisonment, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Cooper. The case is the first to be prosecuted under a law passed in October aimed at traffickers in humans, Cooper said.

NTV Meet Banned

The Associated Press

A Moscow court has banned NTV from holding an emergency shareholders meeting in Gibraltar, a move the station Friday called biased and illegal.

The suit was filed in a Moscow district court by Gazprom-Media, whose spokeswoman, Aelita Yefimova, confirmed the court had ruled in the company’s favor. Gazprom was not pleased when NTV chairman Vladimir Gusinsky called the board meeting in Gibraltar.

In a statement released Friday, NTV said the decision to ban the meeting was illegal as only private individuals can sue in district court. The station said a suit by a legal entity such as Gazprom-Media must be filed in arbitration court. NTV also accused the court of basing its decision on "the friendly relations it has developed with Gazprom-Media."

No to Tribunal

The Associated Press

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia should be shut down in the interests of boosting stability in the Balkans, according to a news report Friday.

Ivanov said there was no necessity today for the Hague-based tribunal, Interfax reported.

"The tribunal was formed at a time when Bosnia and the Balkans were in a state of war, when there were no democratic institutions or institutions of justice," Ivanov was quoted as saying. The tribunal’s continuing operation can only lead to mistrust and interfere with the resolution of problems in the region, he said, so the UN Security Council should consider ending its work.

Terrorism Law

The Associated Press

Russian authorities have welcomed a new British law that bans the operation of groups sponsoring terrorism abroad and voiced hope that it would be used against groups allegedly supporting Chechen rebels.

A Foreign Ministry official said Friday that the Terrorism Act, which went into effect Monday, was viewed with interest and attention in Moscow.

Earlier this week, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, the main Kremlin spokesman on Chechnya, said Moscow hopes Britain will include groups supporting Chechen rebels on the list of organizations banned under the new law. Yastrzhembsky has mentioned several groups in London as allegedly raising funds for the rebels and recruiting fighters.

Mabetex Papers

The Associated Press

Russia has sent documents relating to its investigation of former Kremlin property chief Pavel Borodin to Switzerland, where he has been charged in absentia with money laundering, the Prosecutor General’s Office said Friday.

Borodin, now in a New York jail, and other members of former President Boris Yeltsin’s inner circle have been accused of taking kickbacks from two Swiss firms that were awarded fat contracts to renovate Kremlin buildings.

A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, who declined to give his name, said documents relating to the investigation, including Russia’s conclusion to close the probe, have been sent to Switzerland in the interest of cooperation.

Self-Sinking Trawler

The Associated Press

Russian coast guards suspect that the crew of a trawler that sank after trying to elude them for 23 hours sank the ship themselves to destroy evidence of poaching, Itar-Tass reported Friday.

They also said the captain was reported to have been killed when his vessel sank, but they now suspect he was hiding among 28 rank-and-file crew members who were picked up from lifeboats, the report said.

The vessel sank off the southern Kuril Islands on Thursday after Russian coast guards fired warning shots, then fired directly at the ship. The border guards’ press service said Thursday that it had sunk as a result of the coast guard fire.

The press service could not confirm the news report Friday.

150 Freed in Tunnel


Russian rescuers have freed 150 people who were trapped in an avalanche-hit mountain pass between Russia and Georgia, officials said Saturday.

"There are no people remaining inside the tunnel now. Some of them did stay in there for a night though," said Boris Dzgoyev, the emergency situations minister for North Ossetia.

A ministry spokesman in Moscow said earlier this week that rescuers had led nearly 1,000 people out of the Roksk tunnel from Wednesday to Thursday, but about 150 people remained trapped.