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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechnya at UN


GENEVA — Russia said Thursday it was investigating more than 60 cases of alleged crimes by soldiers against Chechen civilians, including 22 who are charged with murder.

But Vladimir Kalamanov, special representative of President Vladimir Putin for the protection of human and civil rights in Chechnya, blamed "terrorist" activities for the "serious problems" still plaguing the republic.

In a speech to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, he confirmed that Chechnya's prosecutor was investigating a mass grave in the Zdorovye suburb of Grozny, which officials said last month contained 48 bodies.

But Kalamanov urged the forum's 53 member states to adopt a "balanced decision" on Chechnya.

U.S. Diplomats Leave

The Associated Press

Four U.S. diplomats have left Russia after being ordered out in response to Washington's expulsion of Russian diplomats in a spy scandal, news reports said Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry last month gave the Americans until Thursday to leave the country. Interfax and Itar-Tass said the diplomats left Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry and U.S. Embassy refused comment.

Schr?der the Mediator?


BERLIN — German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der signaled Thursday he would seek to foster dialogue between Moscow and Washington when he travels to Russia next week for a summit with President Vladimir Putin.

"Russian-American relations could go through a difficult patch because of the missile defense debate," Schr?der wrote in the Die Zeit weekly newspaper Thursday. "That's cause enough to review Germany's Russia policy."

Schr?der will meet Putin in St. Petersburg on Monday and Tuesday for talks on a wide range of issues ranging from Russia's debts to media freedom. But Schr?der's middleman role between Putin and new U.S. President George W. Bush, whom he met last week in Washington, may prove especially important.

"It is also important as Putin and Bush have not met each other," a government official said Thursday.

"The German chancellor does not want to act as a mediator for Bush, but we have an interest in fostering dialogue between the United States and Russia."

Solana Talks

The Associated Press

Good relations with Russia are becoming more important as the European Union accepts more responsibility for its own defense, EU security and foreign policy coordinator Javier Solana said Thursday.

Solana, in Russia to prepare for an EU-Russia summit next month, met with top foreign policy-makers including new Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.

Russia and the EU signed an agreement Thursday on cooperation in defense aviation, Interfax reported.

No Kursk Nuclear Arms


The navy dismissed on Thursday a Norwegian media report that the Kursk submarine was carrying nuclear weapons when it plunged to the seafloor last August, killing all 118 sailors on board.

"I categorically deny this information. From the first day of the catastrophe we said there were no nuclear weapons on board the Kursk," said Igor Dygalo, aide to the navy commander.

State Duma Deputy Grigory Tomchin said on Norwegian television this week that the Kursk was carrying nuclear arms when disaster struck.

Tomchin said Thursday his comments had been misinterpreted by the TV-2 television channel.