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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Emergency Bill Passed

The Associated Press

Lawmakers approved a bill in final reading Thursday that sets rules for introducing a state of emergency.

The State Duma passed the bill by a 303-6 vote in the third reading. The bill must also be approved by the Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin to become law.

According to the bill, the state of emergency can be "introduced only in circumstances that threaten the life and security of citizens or the foundations of the constitutional order, and that cannot be eliminated without taking emergency measures."

The state of emergency is introduced by the president. It must be approved by the Federation Council and can last no longer than 30 days nationwide and 60 days in separate regions.

The original version of the bill, which had been submitted by former President Boris Yeltsin and was later endorsed by Putin, gave the president broad legislative rights and limited the parliament's role during a state of emergency. Lawmakers amended the bill to say that parliament must retain its full functions during the state of emergency and limit the president's right to dismiss officials.

Fewer Inmates

The Moscow Times

For the first time in nearly a decade the population of the country's overcrowded prisons has dropped to less than 1 million, Deputy Justice Minister Yury Kalinin said Thursday.

The number of prisoners has dropped to 962,700 people this month, due to an amnesty announced last April, he said.

As of April 1, there were 699,300 people serving sentences in 739 prisons across the country, and 246,400 people were being held in 184 pre-trial detention centers awaiting trials.

Russia boasts one of the largest prison populations in the world.

About 129,000 convicted prisoners and 40,000 suspects awaiting trials have been released under the amnesty, which commemorated the 55th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Autopsies Examined

The Associated Press

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia — Judges in the trial of Colonel Yury Budanov, who is accused of abducting and murdering and an 18-year-old Chechen woman, have called witnesses to assess two conflicting autopsy reports.

The conflicting accounts are key in the closely watched case, the first against a Russian soldier accused of human rights abuses in Chechnya.

Budanov is charged with abducting Elza Kungayeva from her family home near the Chechen village of Tangi-Chu and murdering her. Budanov has admitted to strangling the young woman, but said he suspected she was a rebel sniper and killed her in a rage during interrogation.

However, the victim's family members say an autopsy report also indicated rape.

On Wednesday, Captain Vladimir Lyanenko, a forensic specialist with the Defense Ministry, said he examined Kungayeva's body as it lay on a stretcher in the open air of a military field hospital soon after the March 26, 2000, killing.

A copy of the autopsy report without a stamp or signature was given to the victim's mother, Rosa Bashayeva, an official with the military prosecutor's office testified Wednesday.

Bashayeva earlier said this copy indicated her daughter had been raped. A signed copy from the military prosecutor's office submitted to the court had no mention of rape.

Lyanenko, whose work was the basis for both reports, told the court details of his autopsy without making a judgment on the rape issue.

Bomber Ruled Insane

The Associated Press

A Moscow court on Thursday sentenced a man to obligatory psychiatric treatment for planting a bomb near the Federal Security Services headquarters in 1998, Interfax reported.

Alexander Biryukov was accused of detonating a bomb near the building on Aug. 13, 1998. The court ruled that Biryukov was insane and sentenced him to mandatory treatment.

The report could not immediately be confirmed as most staff at the court were evacuated Thursday after a bomb threat, a court official said.

Mubarak Talks Peace


Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived Thursday on the third leg of an international tour aimed at securing deeper involvement by Europe and Russia in the foundering Middle East peace process.

Mubarak's plane landed at Vnukovo-2 airport in the early afternoon, flying in from Romania.

Mubarak said before leaving Bucharest that discussions during the three-day visit in Moscow would focus on the Middle East conflict and bilateral ties. The two sides are also due to tackle business projects, including possible leasing by Cairo of Russian long-haul passenger jets and gas exploration. Mubarak's first meetings are scheduled for Friday.

17 Soldiers Killed

The Associated Press

NAZRAN, Ingushetia — Seventeen soldiers were killed and 28 wounded in fighting in Chechnya over the past 24 hours, an official said Thursday.

Seven soldiers were killed and 12 were wounded in 14 separate attacks on federal checkpoints and positions, said the official in Chechnya's Kremlin-appointed administration on condition of anonymity.

In other action, two soldiers were killed and nine were wounded when their military column was ambushed near the village of Serzhen-Yurt. Two more were killed in a separate shootout near Chiri-Yurt, the official said. Four people were killed in their homes in nighttime attacks by a rebel squad in Duba-Yurt.

Also, a Kremlin spokesman reported that investigators had exhumed the remains of 35 people from a mass grave near Georgia. He said the victims were killed in 1996-97, and that all had been beheaded.

For the Record

  • A high-ranking North Korean military delegation led by Defense Minister Kim Il Chol arrived in Moscow on Thursday on a two-day visit focusing on military cooperation. The two sides plan to sign an agreement on military cooperation. (AP)

  • NTV's new board of directors picked popular news anchor Tatyana Mitkova as the new chief editor of the channel on Thursday. The board also appointed former news editor Vladimir Kulistikov as deputy general director and former TV6 deputy general director Alexander Oleinikov as chief producer. (MT)