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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Fighting in Chechnya

The Associated Press

GROZNY Six soldiers were killed and at least 16 wounded in fighting in Chechnya over the past 24 hours, and at least one pro-Moscow Chechen policeman was killed, an official said Thursday.

The casualties came as Russias chief security official in charge of the war said that rebel units were more numerous than previously reported. Nikolai Patrushev, director of the Federal Security Service, said that about 5,000 rebels are active in Chechnya now, according to Interfax.

But he said only about 1,500 rebels belonged to groups that Russia has no hope of talking into surrendering or joining a pro-Moscow faction.

Gusinskys Property

The Associated Press

Russia has asked Spain to freeze the property of media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, whom Moscow wants extradited to face fraud charges, Deputy Prosecutor General Vasily Kolmogorov said Thursday.

Gusinsky owns a villa in Spain, where he has been under house arrest while Spanish authorities consider Moscows extradition request.

Gusinsky, who heads Russias largest private media holding, Media-MOST, was arrested in Spain on Dec. 12 on a warrant from Moscow.

He maintains that the case against him is punishment for his news organizations criticism of President Vladimir Putin an accusation that the Kremlin denies.

Ivanov Talks NMD


GENEVA Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov called Thursday for "active dialogue" with Washington to find an alternative to the proposed U.S. national missile defense program.

Ivanov suggested a set of fresh measures that he said would preserve the Russian-U.S. Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Measures to dispel perceived "new missile threats" would include setting up the agreed joint U.S.-Russian Missile Launch Data Exchange Center and international cooperation regarding theater missile defense systems, Ivanov said.

Ukrainian Protesters

The Associated Press

KIEV Opposition protesters from western Ukraine have started a march on Kiev to demand that President Leonid Kuchma step down over a mushrooming scandal that involves the disappearance of journalist Georgy Gongadze.

About 1,000 marchers left the city of Zhytomyr on Wednesday, while protesters from other towns are expected to join the march later. They plan to reach the capital on Feb. 6 for a demonstration.

Journalist Attacked

The Moscow Times

An unknown assailant attacked the Ukraine correspondent for the Izvestia newspaper in Kiev earlier this week in what the victim and her colleagues said was an attempt to intimidate the journalist.

Yanina Sokolovskaya, 29, was attacked Tuesday evening as she was entering her apartment building. The attacker slashed her face and hands with a knife, shouting threats, but fled when a neighbor opened the door of her apartment after hearing Sokolovskaya scream for help.

Police initially probed the attack as an attempted murder, but then decided to investigate it as hooliganism much to the dismay of the victim and her colleagues, Interfax reported Thursday.

Sokolovskaya believes the attack could have been prompted by her coverage of allegations that Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma ordered the killing of Ukrainian journalist Georgy Gongadze.

Putin in Vietnam


HANOI, Vietnam Vladimir Putin will visit communist Vietnam in March, becoming the first Russian president to visit what was a close ally of Moscow during the Cold War, Hanois Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh said the official visit would take place in "early March," but gave no precise date.

Sickle Attack

The Moscow Times

Two young men were detained in Moscow after being accused of mugging a woman at sickle-point, Interfax reported Thursday.

The woman complained to the Tsaritsino police department that two men had threatened her on Ulitsa Medikov in southern Moscow on Wednesday with the unlikely weapon and stole her purse, with a large sum of money and her pension card.

The suspects, aged 20 and 23, were detained within hours. Although often used by dacha gardeners, the sickle one of the two Soviet symbols has seldom been registered as a mugging weapon.