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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Waste Dump Opened

The Associated Press

OSLO, Norway — Russia's Northern Fleet opened a secret nuclear waste dump in the Arctic to outside inspection for the first time Monday, after years of pressure from its smaller neighbor Norway.

A Norwegian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide was allowed into the Andreyeva Bay base, where tons of highly radioactive waste are stored roughly 45 kilometers from the Russian-Norwegian frontier.

"This really is an area we must do something about. Very large amounts of radioactive waste are stored here under very unfavorable conditions, and we have seen a facility marked by such decay that there is reason to take action as soon as possible," Eide said from Russia in an interview broadcast by the Norwegian state radio network NRK.

Andreyeva Bay is considered one of the world's most radioactively dangerous places. There are more than 100 nuclear submarines at Russia's Northern Fleet bases on the Kola Peninsula, where northwestern Russia borders Norway.

Arafat in Moscow


Palestinian President Yasser Arafat was due to arrive overnight in time for talks on Tuesday in Moscow, where officials have signaled their support for new U.S. initiatives for Arab-Israeli peace.

A Foreign Ministry source said Arafat, initially due Monday evening, would arrive late at night after a meeting in Ramallah with U.S. special envoy William Burns.

With the Bush administration increasing its role in Middle East peace efforts, Russian officials have been careful to say any mediation they offer would be part of a wider international effort.

"We always speak out for active dialogue between the participants of the conflict and offer cooperation in finding a solution to the crisis … through our bilateral ties and the multilateral efforts undertaken by the international community," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Monday.

The Foreign Ministry said Arafat would meet President Vladimir Putin as well as Ivanov on Tuesday.

Call on Terrorism

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged nations in the Caucasus Mountains to help fight the spread of terrorism and religious extremism in the restive region.

"It's important to strengthen and improve our cooperation and jointly seek solutions for the difficult problems of the Caucasus," Putin said in a message to a conference of representatives from Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan read by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Russia has repeatedly accused Georgia — the only foreign country that borders Chechnya — of allowing rebels to sneak across the border to rest and get reinforcements.

Moscow introduced a visa regime with Georgia amid the allegations. Ivanov said Monday the regime could be lifted if Georgia cooperates with Moscow's campaign against the insurgents.

The visa regime "was a force measure caused by the unpreparedness of the Georgian administration to pool efforts with Russia in the struggle against terrorist organizations and gangs, which came to Russia from Georgian territory to commit their crimes," Ivanov said.

Addressing a separate problem in Russian-Georgian relations, Ivanov said the Russian army would meet its obligation to withdraw from two Soviet-era bases in Georgia — Gudauta and Vaziani — by July 1, Interfax reported.

Open Skies Treaty

The Associated Press

President Vladimir Putin on Monday finalized Russia's ratification of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty, allowing other countries to conduct surveillance flights over Russian territory.

The Kremlin press service said that Putin signed the law ratifying the treaty, which the two houses of parliament passed this spring.

The Open Skies Treaty was negotiated between countries that belonged to NATO and the Soviet-era Warsaw Pact. The U.S. Senate ratified the agreement in 1993.

Under the pact, each country is allotted a quota of flights it can make over other countries' territories using specified aircraft with sensors to monitor military activity.

Polish Protesters Trial

The Associated Press

WARSAW, Poland — Five Poles pleaded innocent Monday to charges of vandalizing the Russian mission in the western Polish city of Poznan last year during a protest against the war in Chechnya.

Prosecutors allege that the five invaded the mission's grounds, painted a swastika on the building, defaced a Russian emblem and burned a Russian flag.

After pleading innocent in Poznan Provincial Court, the defendants refused to answer any questions.

If convicted, they could face up to five years in prison.

The incident occurred Feb. 23, 2000, during a demonstration against military action in Chechnya.

Russia complained that police made no effort to stop the protesters.

Moscow responded by calling home its ambassador and canceling a trip by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

Two local police commanders were later fired.

Sorokina to TV6

The Moscow Times

Well-known television journalist Svetlana Sorokina agreed Monday to anchor the evening news on TV6 television station starting June 4, Interfax reported.

Sorokina will alternate weekly with Mikhail Osokin, Interfax said, citing TV6's press service.

Sorokina and Osokin formerly worked at NTV television but left state-connected gas giant Gazprom took over the channel in April. NTV journalists were offered jobs at Boris Berezovsky-run TV6 but Sorokina did not immediately accept, saying she was concerned about the editorial independence of the channel under Berezovsky.

Interfax said Sorokina's "Glas Naroda" program from NTV may resume broadcast on TV6 in September.