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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Putin Vacation

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin arrived early Tuesday in the Siberian region of Khakasia, where he is taking a short vacation, a Kremlin spokesman said.

The spokesman said he had no information about how long the trip would last or what Putin would do there.

But Putin's representative in the State Duma, Alexander Kotenkov, said the president would use the time to work on his annual address to parliament, Interfax reported. Kotenkov said Putin would deliver the address in late March or early April.

NTV said Putin also planned to go skiing.




Security Chief to U.S.

Reuters

The head of Russia's influential advisory Security Council will visit Washington on Wednesday, for only Moscow's second top level contact with the new administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

A spokesman said the Security Council's secretary, Sergei Ivanov, would meet his U.S. counterpart, White House National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, as well as Secretary of State Colin Powell, during a one-day trip.

Powell met Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Cairo last month while on a Middle East tour. But Sergei Ivanov's Washington trip will be the highest level visit either side has made to the other's capital since Bush took office in January.




Chechnya Pullout

The Associated Press

NAZRAN, Ingushetia — Federal troops held ceremonies marking a limited withdrawal from Chechnya, in a move officials said Tuesday showed peace was returning to the region.

Wearing muddy uniforms, soldiers from the 70th Motorized Infantry Division were shown in television reports standing next to a train at military headquarters in Khankala. A brass band played the popular march "Slav's Farewell."

Russia has been slowly reducing troop strength in Chechnya from a peak of 100,000 soldiers since wide-scale fighting stopped last spring.

About 80,000 remain in Chechnya. The army contingent will be gradually reduced by about 25,000, officials say.




Gluck Claim

Reuters

The Chechen rebel web site Kavkaz.org posted a letter purportedly from a top separatist leader Tuesday acknowledging rebels had kidnapped a U.S. aid worker and apologizing for his month in captivity.

Kenneth Gluck, head of the regional mission of M?decins sans Fronti?res, or MSF, was seized by gunmen Jan. 9 in Chechnya and held for a month. The incident forced relief groups to suspend deliveries of aid.

Kavkaz.org said the letter had been written by Shamil Basayev, whom the site is known to support.

"A sad misunderstanding has taken place, which requires some explanation," the letter, dated Jan. 27, said.

"A group of our Mujahideen decided independently to free several people by exchanging them for you" in a prisoner swap with Russian forces, it said. It added that the actions were considered a mistake, so the kidnappers would not be punished.

After his release, Gluck gave few details of who he thought had held him.

Media had speculated that Moscow might have had a hand in Gluck's capture, to discredit the rebels and discourage foreigners from travelling to Chechnya.




Borodin in Hospital

Reuters

NEW YORK — Pavel Borodin, a former Kremlin aide being held in a U.S. jail on Swiss money laundering charges, has been moved to a hospital to be treated for chest pains, sources familiar with the situation said Tuesday.

But Russian officials complained to U.S. authorities that they were not told soon enough about Borodin's condition.

Borodin was moved to a hospital Monday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry, which has been pressuring the United States to release Borodin, said he "was moved to hospital amid complete secrecy and the Russian officials and his lawyers were not informed for quite some time."

"The Russian side … hopes that U.S. authorities will not allow such actions in future."

A prison spokeswoman and Borodin's attorney declined comment.




St. Nicholas Relics

The Associated Press

A Vatican delegation has turned over to the Russian Orthodox Church some of the relics of St. Nicholas the Miracleworker, one of Russia's most popular saints, which had been kept at an Italian church for centuries.

Father Giovanni Matera, superior of the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari, said the move was intended "as a sign of love for our Orthodox brethren."

"We receive this as a holy object, which will strengthen our believers in the spiritual renewal which is taking place in Russia," said Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Alexy II, according to Itar-Tass.




Publisher Slain

The Associated Press

TALLINN, Estonia — The weekend murder of a Russian newspaper publisher shocked Estonians who were outraged it apparently happened in front of his nine-year-old grandson.

Newspapers reported Monday that Vitaly Haitov, owner of the country's largest Russian-language daily Estoniya, was shot twice in the head at close range Saturday afternoon while sitting in his jeep outside his home in an exclusive residential suburb of Tallinn.

His grandson and namesake, who last year witnessed his father similarly killed, was beside him in the vehicle, according to reports.

Police wouldn't speculate about a motive for the murder of the 57-year-old Russian citizen and former Soviet naval officer. They had no suspects.

Postimees newspaper, citing witnesses and police sources, reported an assailant stepped from a car, shot the publisher's Rottweiler dog, then killed Haitov from point-blank range.

Haitov's son Marian, 32, was shot outside his home last year while his son Vitaly was waving to him from a nearby window, police said. No one has been charged.