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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Joint bin Laden Hunt

The Moscow Times

The Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Security Service have joined forces to search for Osama bin Laden, the accused mastermind of an international terrorist network who is believed to be holed up in Afghanistan, Time magazine reported Monday.

FSB chief Nikolai Patrushev has instructed Russian agents in Afghanistan to feed information about bin Laden to U.S. intelligence officers, the magazine said in Monday's edition. CIA agents will use the information to track down bin Laden's emissaries when they venture out of Afghanistan.

"Russians have unmatched capabilities as far as human intelligence [in Afghanistan] goes," a terrorist specialist told Time.

An FSB official Monday refused to say whether a joint search was on for bin Laden, but he noted that the FSB and CIA regularly exchange information on such "international terrorists."

Putin on Latvia

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin has urged better treatment of ethnic Russians in Latvia and told Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that more work is needed to improve tense relations between their nations.

Vike-Freiberga, meanwhile, said Sunday that her Saturday night meeting with Putin in Austria was a first step toward improving ties. It was their first meeting and a rare encounter by top Latvian and Russian officials.

"This could be the beginning of an important improvement in the climate between our countries," Vike-Freiberga said at a news conference upon her return to Riga.

Putin dismissed accusations of imperialist attitudes in Russia toward Latvia. "We are prepared to resolve all problems no matter how acute they would appear. … We only ask that the same rules be applied in relation to Latvia's Russian-speaking population as are applied to ethnic minorities in Europe," he was quoted by news agencies as saying.

Vike-Freiberga rejected charges of discrimination. In some cases, "Mr. Putin has insufficient information that does not correspond to the actual situation in Latvia," she said.

Aide Defends Reform


A Kremlin aide defended controversial court reform proposals Monday, saying reining in judges would help create an unbiased legal system.

Dmitry Kozak, a Kremlin deputy chief of staff in charge of a commission drawing up reform proposals, told Kommersant newspaper the new measures were intended to root out corruption on the bench linked to organized crime.

The proposals, opposed by Russia's Council of Judges, would allow judges to be targets of certain criminal probes and place outside experts on qualifying boards that approve new judges, now made up only of other judges.

Kozak said the measures were needed to "shield judges from attempts by organized criminal groups to influence them and minimize the possibilities for buying judges."

Another measure would impose a mandatory retirement age of 65 or 70 for judges in place of existing lifetime terms. Liberals have said that measure would increase judicial turnover, giving politicians more opportunities to pack the bench with their supporters.

Kozak said the proposal "has no fundamental political character" and was intended purely to set a reasonable age limit.

Ex-PM's Son Held


MINSK — The Belarussian government said police have arrested the son of former Prime Minister Mikhail Chigir.

The Interior Ministry said Sunday that Alexander Chigir, 24, was arrested with two other people on suspicion of selling spare parts from stolen cars.

His father told reporters he believed the arrest was politically motivated and stemmed from his plans to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in presidential elections in September.

"My son has become a hostage to his father's political activity," Chigir said, adding that he would not be deterred from running for president.

Chigir spent seven months on remand in 1999 on corruption charges that prosecutors were subsequently unable to prove in court.

CSKA Arrest

The Moscow Times

A nephew of CSKA soccer team president Shakhrudi Dadakhanov has been detained for the alleged possession of a grenade, in a move the soccer official believes is connected to a change of ownership at the club.

Officers of the Interior Ministry's organized crime task force seized 21-year-old Aslanbek Dadakhanov early Saturday in northwestern Moscow upon finding an RDG-5 grenade on him, a spokesman for the task force said.

The detectives then searched Aslanbek Dadakhanov's rented apartment, where they found another grenade, $25,400 in counterfeit bank notes and a videotape of Chechen rebels executing Russian soldiers, the spokesman said. The young Dadakhanov was detained in 1999 for possession of a pistol and then in January for hooliganism, he said.

Police have maintained that Shakhrudi Dadakhanov, an ethnic Chechen, has channeled some of his earnings from renting out CSKA premises to fund rebels in his troubled homeland.

Dadakhanov, who has denied links to Chechen rebels, told Interfax on Monday that his nephew's arrest "is connected to the struggle for control over the team." Dadakhanov recently announced that he will sell his shares in the club to outside investors, citing pressure from law enforcement officials. The size of his stake in CSKA is not known.

RTR Launches Show

The Moscow Times

State-owned RTR television launched a news program for the Moscow area Monday.

The 20-minute "Vesti Moskva," which follows an 8 p.m. nationwide broadcast of "Vesti," is part of RTR's effort to introduce federal control over regional airwaves, where local news programs — usually controlled by regional governors — are often broadcast in prime time.

RTR is launching local news programs in other regions that will have fixed time slots after the national news is broadcast from Moscow.