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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechen Mass Grave

The Associated Press

Federal forces have buried dozens of unidentified bodies found near a main military base in Chechnya, and a respected human rights group said Monday that authorities were unlikely to investigate the deaths.

At least 48 bodies were found lying in a deserted neighborhood just outside the military base at Khankala, near Grozny.

No independent observers have been allowed to visit the site, but an official in Chechnya's Kremlin-appointed administration, speaking on condition of anonymity, put the number of bodies at 80.

Human rights group Memorial said that most of the bodies found in Zdorovye appear to be those of Chechen civilians detained by federal forces and summarily executed.

Sixteen bodies have been identified by relatives; the rest were buried earlier this month in the Grozny suburb of Prigorodnoye, said Chechnya's top prosecutor Vyacheslav Chernov.

"Although the Chechen prosecutor says all measures have been taken to carry out a forensic examination later, this causes us a great deal of doubt," said Memorial's deputy head Tatyana Kasatkina. "And so the criminal case regarding this crime will probably be closed."

Chernov mentioned no date for a possible exhumation of the bodies, and his office could not be reached for comment Monday.

Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov traveled to Chechnya on Monday, saying he intended "to investigate violations of human rights in Chechnya and to see how prosecutors and law enforcement agencies are working in the region," Interfax reported.




Envoys Ordered Out

The Associated Press

Russia on Monday told three Bulgarian diplomats in Moscow to leave the country in an apparent retaliation for Bulgaria's move to kick out three Russian diplomats in the wake of a spy scandal.

Bulgaria's ambassador in Moscow, Ilian Vassilev, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and told that the three diplomats must leave by Friday, a ministry statement said.

The Bulgarians were asked to leave for "activity inconsistent with diplomatic status" — a euphemism for spying.

On Sunday, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said Bulgaria had urged Russia to recall three of its diplomats suspected of being involved in a spying scandal.

The Russians were told that they must leave within a week or be declared persona non grata.




Copter Crash Kills 3

The Associated Press

A Federal Border Guards helicopter crashed Monday in the central city of Ulyanovsk, killing three crew members, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The Mi-8 helicopter was traveling from Tajikistan, where the border guards are assisting Tajik government troops in their attempts to stop the flow of drugs, arms and suspected militants from Afghanistan, Itar-Tass reported.

It that that the helicopter was being taken to St. Petersburg for refitting.

The helicopter went down in the vicinity of the city airport in Ulyanovsk, some 720 kilometers east of Moscow, as it was attempting to land for refueling. All aboard were killed, ministry spokeswoman Irina Andriyanova said.

The border guards' press service said that an initial investigation indicated the crash resulted from "a technical problem."




Skinhead Attack

The Moscow Times

A group of skinheads attacked an Armenian school last week, putting one boy in the hospital with a broken collarbone, local newspapers reported Monday.

The group of apparently drunken teenagers swooped down on students at school No. 1110 on Ulitsa Tsuryupa in southern Moscow on Thursday afternoon, Segodnya reported. The skinheads, who were shouting Nazi slogans, also threw a beer bottle through a school window.

Police are dismissing the attack as a fight between schoolchildren, according to Segodnya.

But Moskovsky Komsomolets quoted Sergei Tsoi, the press secretary of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, as saying that the offenders would be brought to justice.




Saddam Courts Putin

Reuters

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein hopes to meet President Vladimir Putin, State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said Monday after returning from a weekend trip to Baghdad.

"[Saddam] said he wants to personally get acquainted with President Putin," Seleznyov told reporters.

Putin has made a point of expanding ties with countries seen as rogues by the United States. He has paid visits to the leaders of North Korea and Cuba, and last week hosted Iran's President Mohammad Khatami. But no plans for a meeting with Saddam have been announced.

Seleznyov described Saddam as having a "sharp mind."

"It was very interesting. I had wanted for so long to meet a person we know only through the media," he said, adding that Saddam had "a very precise evaluation of the international situation."




For the Record



  • Confusion continued to surround the reported dismissal of Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko on Monday, with authorities remaining mum but some lawmakers insisting that the minister indeed had been fired. President Leonid Kuchma's office refused to confirm or deny the ouster and said there was no such decree "yet." (The Associated Press)

  • Alexander Lyubimov, a prominent television journalist who hosts the daily "Zdes i Seichas," or "Here and Now," interview program on ORT television, was appointed the company's first deputy general director Monday, Interfax reported. Lyubimov, who became famous in the 1980s as the host of the exceedingly popular perestroika-era show "Vzglyad," also chairs the board of directors of the VID television company. (The Moscow Times)