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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

New Mass Grave

The Associated Press

GROZNY — Investigators have discovered a new mass grave in the Leninsky district of Grozny, but did not say how many bodies it contained, an official in the Kremlin-appointed Chechen government said Wednesday.

The announcement follows an investigation opened last month into scores of corpses found sprawled around a summer home community near the main military headquarters in Chechnya on the city's outskirts.

Relatives and human rights activists say that most were civilians detained and executed by the military. The military rejects the charge.

Meanwhile, 15 soldiers were killed and more than 28 wounded in fighting over the past 24 hours, the official said.

The attacks included five ambushes on military columns in various parts of Chechnya. Rebels blew up four armored personnel carriers with remote controlled mines during the attacks, and sprayed troop transport trucks with machine-gun fire.

Mrs. Mavrodi Arrest

The Moscow Times

Police have arrested the wife of Sergei Mavrodi, founder of the infamous MMM pyramid scheme, for trying to kidnap a newborn child, RIA Novosti reported.

Yelena Mavrodi, 32, and three accomplices were arrested Tuesday and accused of intending to put the kidnapped baby up for illegal adoption, said the report citing the press service of Moscow's organized crime unit.

The child was being treated at the Academy of Medical Sciences pediatric institute on Lomonovsky Prospekt. Mavrodi's accomplices were a 46-year-old pediatrician from the institute and two unemployed persons, aged 44 and 38.

If convicted, Mavrodi could face 5 to 10 years in jail.

VOA Denied License

The Associated Press

Russian authorities Wednesday rejected applications for broadcasting licenses from two affiliates of the U.S. government-owned radio station Voice of America, saying the stations failed to meet broadcasting standards.

The rejections followed statements from Press Minister Mikhail Lesin that he would clamp down on foreign broadcasters in Russia after U.S. authorities turned down an application for a Russian radio station in the United States.

The applications for AM frequencies in the cities of Volgograd and Ufa in southern Russia were rejected during a Press Ministry tender for broadcasting rights in several Russian regions.

Voice of America spokesman Joe O'Connell in Washington confirmed the rejection, but said the stations would have an opportunity to resubmit their applications in two weeks.

"We're looking ahead to that," he said.

O'Connell said Voice of America "was certainly aware," of concerns over press freedom in Russia, but hoped the applications would be accepted the second time around.

The Press Ministry evaluated the equipment, finances and the editorial content of Voice of America in the two cities, and judged them inadequate, a spokeswoman who identified herself only as Yelena said. She declined to provide details.

No other companies competed for broadcasting rights in Volgograd and Ufa, she said. Broadcasting rights in other cities were awarded mostly to local Russian companies.

Voice of America's editorial policy is controlled by the U.S. government. It is broadcast in 53 languages around the world.

Rokhlina Verdict

The Moscow Times

A Moscow regional court declined on Wednesday a request from the Supreme Court to reexamine the case of Tamara Rokhlina, who was convicted last year of killing of her husband, prominent lawmaker General Lev Rokhlin.

Rokhlina's lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said he plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court once again. "We plan to appeal the case based on a lack of evidence proving her guilt," he said in a telephone interview.

Last November, Rokhlina was sentenced to eight years in prison by a court in the town of Naro-Fominsk, outside Moscow, for killing her husband, who was shot with his own gun July 2, 1998. A month later, the prison term was cut to four years.

Rokhlina initially confessed to the killing but later rescinded, saying she confessed after the real killers had threatened her and her children. She has called her husband's murder politically motivated.

Hunt for Bombers

The Associated Press

With the nation jittery after car bombings near Chechnya, police on Wednesday brought in a special robot to inspect a suspicious car in southern Russia and discovered an explosive in a Black Sea resort.

An investigation into Saturday's blasts, which left 23 dead, led police to a car parked in a neighborhood of summer cottages near the southern town of Cherkessk, news reports said. A sapper robot was sent to check the vehicle for explosives, but after an hours-long operation Wednesday no bomb was found, Interfax reported.

Meanwhile, a bomb was found under a bench near a house in Sochi and successfully defused, Itar-Tass reported. Investigators said it appeared to be an attempt at a criminal settling of accounts, rather than terrorism, because the bomb was planted in a relatively quiet street.

Seventy-nine people injured in Saturday's bombings remained hospitalized Wednesday, some of whom sought help days after the attack, Interfax reported.

Joint Crime Fight

The Associated Press

BEIJING — Chinese and Russian police broke up a pair of Chinese gangs that blackmailed and kidnapped Chinese merchants trading between the two countries, the state-run Xinhua news agency said Wednesday.

The gangsters worked out of hide-outs in Russian cities and had links to the Russian mafia, Xinhua said.

One gang, whose 13 members were based in the western city of Ussuriysk, had taken millions of dollars in money and loot. The other group had 17 members and was based in Khabarovsk. Both cities are in the Far East, which shares a lengthy border with China.