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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

EU Protests Food Ban

The Associated Press

The European Union on Thursday protested Russia's ban on a wide variety of food imports as an "excessive and disproportionate" response to the foot-and-mouth outbreak in Europe.

Russia on Monday banned imports of animals, meat and meat products, milk and dairy products, fish and fish products and animal feed from the EU, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet states on the Baltic.

"In view of the strong measures taken by the European Union to curb the spread of the disease, the decision by the Russian authorities appears excessive and disproportionate," said a statement issued by the delegation of the European Commission in Russia.

The protest was aimed at two aspects of Russia's ban: that it affects exports from EU member states that have no recorded cases of foot-and-mouth disease; and that it includes products which "present no risk for spreading the disease," such as fish and dairy products.

Foot-and-mouth is harmless to humans, but an outbreak can be devastating to livestock producers.




Press Protest Saturday

The Moscow Times

Up to 120 prominent public figures — including writers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists and politicians — have announced they will take part in a rally on Saturday in defense of NTV television and press freedom in Russia.

The protest was initiated by the Russian Journalists Union and the liberal political movements Union of Right Forces and Yabloko.

Among those who signed up for the protest are poets Andrei Voznesensky and Bella Akhmadullina, conductor Vladimir Spivakov, pop diva Alla Pugachyova, politicians Mikhail Gorbachev and Grigory Yavlinsky, Yegor Gaidar. The rally will take place at noon Saturday on Pushkin Square.




Amato Meets Putin

The Associated Press

Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato met President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to discuss trade, the unrest in the Balkans and the upcoming Group of Seven summit in Italy.

Amato said at a news conference afterward that the general theme of the summit will be "the fight against poverty," including eliminating trade quotas for developing countries and looking for ways to control disease and improve education.

Amato smoothed over questions about possible summit conflict between U.S. President George W. Bush and Putin following a spy scandal between their countries. "The U.S. administration has only begun its work, and the first days are always chaotic," Amato said.

Amato also met with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov about Russia's debt to European countries, including Italy.

He said he told Kasyanov that Italy thinks it should continue its dialogue with IMF and other international organizations, given the fact that Russia's payment obligations will peak in 2003.




Adamkus Visits

The Associated Press

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus launched his first state visit to Russia on Thursday for talks on improving relations between the two neighbors and on his Baltic nation's European Union candidacy.

Adamkus was to meet President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov during the three-day tour.

On Saturday, Adamkus was to visit the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad.

Lithuania's ambassador to Russia, Zenonas Namavicius, said the most pressing issue would be Kaliningrad's status and trade and visa regulations once Lithuania and Poland join the EU in several years, Itar-Tass reported.

Adamkus' press service issued a statement saying its aim was "to reaffirm Lithuania's striving to continue to pursue a policy aimed at maintaining good-neighborly relations with the Russian Federation," Itar-Tass said.




More Spies in Germany

Reuters

Russia has increased the number of spies operating out of its diplomatic missions in Germany, according to a report from the German internal security agency on Thursday.

"The number of intelligence operatives has increased as the amount of embassy personnel has grown," the Federal Agency for the Protection of the Constitution said in its annual report.

A Russian Embassy spokesman in Berlin had no immediate comment on the report, but the news comes on the heels of the biggest spy dispute between the United States and Russia since the end of the Cold War.

"Everything points to the conclusion that the Russian intelligence services have been strengthened" under President Vladimir Putin, said the report, which was presented by German Interior Minister Otto Schily.




Kursk Raising Plan

The Associated Press

When Russia lifts the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, it will leave the vessel's mangled torpedo compartment on the Barents Sea floor, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said Thursday.

Klebanov said raising the compartment would jeopardize the ambitious operation because it remains filled with torpedoes that could explode, Interfax reported.

"It will be cut away from the rest of the submarine with special equipment," he was quoted as saying.

The torpedo compartment in the front of the Kursk was severely damaged when the submarine suffered massive explosions and slammed into the sea bed in August, killing all 118 men aboard.

The raising of the Kursk is planned for later this year. Klebanov would not give an exact date for the lifting operation, saying only that it will begin when all the necessary funding is gathered.




Missile Official Dies

Reuters

The man in charge of the safety of the nation's vast nuclear missile arsenal has died from injuries he suffered in a car crash last month, the Strategic Rocket Forces said Thursday.

A spokesman said that Major General Vladimir Grigoryev had died on Saturday after a series of unsuccessful operations. He was involved in a car crash in Tatarstan on Feb. 15.