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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Shaimiyev Re-elected


Mintimer Shaimiyev won a third term as president of Tatarstan in an election on Sunday, according to results published Monday.

With almost all ballots counted, Shaimiyev, 64, had won 79.59 percent of votes cast in the autonomous republic, the Central Election Commission said.

Three other main candidates were trailing with less than 6 percent of the vote each. Voter turnout was 79.39 percent.

Tatarstan is home to 4 million predominantly Moslem, Turkic-speaking Tatars and Bashkirs and mostly Orthodox Christian Russians.

Shaimiyev's fight for autonomy of his oil-rich republic riled the Kremlin after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

But Shaimiyev is now seen as a force for stability and has the wary support of Moscow, as well as enjoying a role in forging links with Russia's Moslem allies.

Shaimiyev capitalized on a law passed this year that removed the two-term limit on most current governors, a reform approved by President Vladimir Putin as part of an appeasement package to regional leaders whose powers he sharply reduced.

Reporters Protest

The Moscow Times

A group of prominent Chechen journalists lashed out at the Kremlin on Monday for what they called one-sided coverage of the Chechnya conflict, Interfax reported.

The journalists, who work for state-owned media in Chechnya, said in a statement that the Kremlin's information policy was inciting hatred from federal troops stationed in Chechnya.

"Since the start of the anti-terrorist operation [by the federal troops in August 1999], the nationwide media are deliberately being silent about the casualties among the civilians, presenting periodically only losses among the military," Interfax quoted a statement from the journalists working for state-owned media in Chechnya as saying.

"Since law enforcers communicate with civilians rather than militants, their wrath falls on helpless and innocent citizens," it said. "Nonmotivated arrests, beatings and disappearances of detainees are becoming a sign of the times, and the media only provoke the military to carry out these actions."

Kravchenko Sacked


KIEV — Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on Monday sacked Interior Minister Yury Kravchenko, a key figure in a scandal over a murdered journalist.

"The president has today sacked Yury Kravchenko from his post as interior minister," a spokesman at the president's office said. "On March 26 he also signed a decree to appoint Yury Smirnov as the new interior minister."

Kravchenko's dismissal was first reported a week ago, but officials were initially unable to confirm or deny the reports as Kuchma was on holiday in the Crimean peninsula. The president returned to Kiev on Saturday.

Thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest in recent months after publication of tapes in which voices similar to those of Kuchma and Kravchenko discuss kidnapping journalist Georgy Gongadze, whose headless corpse was found in November.

Both deny involvement in Gongadze's death.

Ukraine Sells Copters

The Associated Press

KIEV — Ukraine has sold Macedonia eight army helicopters but will not intervene in the government's fighting there with ethnic Albanian rebels, the Defense Ministry said Monday.

Some 48 Ukrainian troops are currently in Macedonia, including 33 crew members and technicians of a Ukrainian helicopter unit that had served with peacekeeping forces in neighboring Kosovo until its mandate expired, the ministry said in a statement.

The rest are crew members and technical personnel of two Mi-24 helicopters that were sold to Macedonia, it said.

Overall, Ukraine has sold Macedonia four Mi-8, the former Soviet military's main workhorse, and four Mi-24 attack helicopters. Their transfer, according to the ministry, is due to be completed by April 20.

The Mi-24s already took part Saturday in fighting against the Albanians, but the Defense Ministry was quick to deny possible suggestions of Ukrainian involvement.

"Not a single Ukrainian serviceman has partaken, is partaking or will partake in combat operations of the Macedonian republic's armed forces," it said.

U.S. Criticized

The Associated Press

A Russian official on Monday strongly criticized the U.S. State Department for planning a meeting with an envoy for Chechen rebels, saying the meeting would be a "challenge to Russia," news reports said.

Russian officials call the separatist fighters in Chechnya terrorists and have lashed out at foreign governments for meeting Chechen emissary Ilyas Akhmadov, who travels frequently to European capitals and has visited Washington before.

Any meeting with Akhmadov would be an affront to Russia, said Russia's minister for social and economic rehabilitation in Chechnya Vladimir Yelagyn, according to Itar-Tass.

If U.S. officials go ahead with the talks, Russia "will find diplomatic methods to react," Itar-Tass quoted Yelagin as saying.

It was not clear Monday when the meeting was planned.

Reactor Glitch

The Associated Press

Operators discovered a minor glitch at Russia's newest nuclear power plant during start-up tests, Rosenergoatom said Monday.

No radiation leaked during the test Sunday, which pushed nonradioactive steam through the generating turbines at the Rostov nuclear power plant near the southern city of Volgodonsk, Rosenergoatom said in a statement.

But steam leaked from the secondary cooling pipes, the statement said. Engineers fixed the problem and continued the test.

The secondary cooling system carries hot water from the reactor core to power generators.