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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Elections in Tula

The Associated Press

Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev's grandson and an official who tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 were among the choices in voting Sunday for governor of the Tula region 200 kilometers south of Moscow.

Andrei Brezhnev, head of a minor communist group, challenged incumbent Vasily Starodubtsev. Starodubtsev was a member of the group that staged an unsuccessful attempt to depose reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in August, 1991, and restore hardline rule.

Results were not expected until Monday. Elections also were held in the Amur region on the border with China and in the Evenkia region in eastern Siberia.

Psychosis on the Rise

The Moscow Times

One-third of Russians are suffering from mental disorders, the number of which has steadily grown in the past few years, doctors said.

According a report by the Society of Russian Psychiatrists, cited by Interfax on Friday, up to 10 million Russians suffer from such disorders as alcoholism and drug addiction.

Cases of psychosis and retardation grew by more than 40 percent in the past decade, while cases of schizophrenia went up by 25.5 percent, according to the report.

Dogs Solve Crimes

The Moscow Times

Some 57,400 crimes were solved in Russia with the help of search dogs over the past year, the Kommersant newspaper reported last week.

Sergei Kolchin, chief dog trainer with the Interior Ministry's search department, told the newspaper the ministry has recently doubled the number of police officers serving with dogs from 8,000 to almost 15,000.

Objector Dies

The Moscow Times

Dmitry Neverovsky, a 27-year-old who after a prolonged trial and a five-month stay in prison last year won his right to avoid being drafted, died in a fire at his home last week.

He was buried in Obninsk in the Kaluga region on Friday.

The fire started late Tuesday and was probably accidental, an officer in the Obninsk fire department said by telephone Friday, adding that the investigation has not been finished.

Firefighters saved Neverovsky's parents. His mother, 49-year-old Tatyana Kotlyar, is a well-known human rights activist and a deputy in the Kaluga regional legislature.

Kuchma Referendum


KIEV — Ukrainian opposition parties said Saturday they would initiate a nationwide referendum demanding the resignation of President Leonid Kuchma, who is embroiled in a scandal over a murdered reporter.

Opposition parties and civil rights groups accuse Kuchma of ordering the kidnapping of journalist Georgy Gongadze, whose headless corpse was found last November.

"The idea to hold a nationwide referendum, which has been submitted today, was approved," said Serhiy Holovaty, a politician in the anti-Kuchma Forum for National Salvation.

The forum would have to gather 3 million signatures across the country of 49 million people. The president would have to set a date for the referendum after the Central Elections Commission confirmed the validity of the signatures.

'Spies' Caught


Police in the southern region of Stavropol were quoted as saying Friday they had captured two Turkish nationals whom they accused of being spies.

One was named as Khaki Mutlodogan and was alleged to have agents among the local Crimean Tartar community. The second Turk was named as Nesrin Uslu. She was alleged to have offered an FSB officer $50,000 to work for her for.

Kiev Gates at Risk

The Associated Press

KIEV — Ukrainian archaeologists appealed Friday for access to 11th-century gates discovered in Kiev during construction work in an effort to prevent their destruction.

The Lyadski Gates are under threat because they lie beneath Independence Square, which is being reconstructed for the 10th anniversary of Ukraine's independence from the Soviet Union this August, said Mykhailo Sahaidak, an expert of the Archaeology Institute in Kiev.

Student's Trial Set

The Associated Press

The trial of a U.S. student and Fulbright scholar charged with selling marijuana in a central Russian city will open April 24, officials said Friday.

Investigator Andrei Makarov from the Federal Security Service branch in Voronezh said John Tobin, 24, could face between eight and 15 years in prison if convicted, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported.

But FSB spokesman Pavel Bolshunov said Tobin could appeal to President Vladimir Putin for pardon or could be extradited to the United States, Interfax said.

'No Kursk Collision'

The Associated Press

A member of a government committee probing the sinking last summer of the Kursk submarine said Friday a collision, cited earlier by government officials as a likely cause of the disaster, was "science fiction."

Grigory Tomchin, a member of parliament on the committee, also ruled out friendly fire during a military exercise or an enemy torpedo as a cause of the Aug. 12 disaster, which killed all 118 men on board.

"I consider a collision from the sphere of science fiction," Tomchin told a news conference.

The Russian government has not officially ruled out the theory that the Kursk collided with another vessel, possibly a foreign submarine.

EU, Russia on Crime

The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The European Union and Russia agreed Friday to step up joint efforts to fight organized crime, focusing on preventing human trafficking, drug-related crimes and stolen cars.

"If this struggle is to be effective, we have to cooperate with countries outside the European Union, including Russia," said Swedish Justice Minister Thomas Bodstroem, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.

Moldova President


CHISINAU, Moldova — Moldova's first Communist president took office in the former Soviet republic on Saturday, pledging to turn the impoverished state into a prosperous modern nation.

Vladimir Voronin, 59, was elected president by parliament earlier this week, six weeks after his Communist Party swept to a general election victory in the tiny state wedged between Romania and Ukraine.

Voronin urged closer ties with Russia.

Karabakh Peace Talks

The Associated Press

KEY WEST, Florida — The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan will meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on Monday after "very fruitful" negotiations on a settlement of their conflict over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, said chief U.S. negotiator Ambassador Carey Cavanaugh.

Diplomats from the United States, Russia and France are preparing a proposal for a final settlement of the 13-year-old dispute, which has dragged on since a 1994 cease-fire ended fighting that killed more than 30,000 people and drove a million from their homes.

On Monday, Azeri President Heidar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharyan are scheduled to meet separately with Bush, who will show his support for their efforts, Cavanaugh said.