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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Lecturer Reprimanded

MOSCOW (Reuters) — The Federal Security Service said Wednesday it had reprimanded a U.S. lecturer over attempts to gather information about local companies, but stopped short of expelling her.

A spokeswoman in the Omsk branch of the FSB said the agency had spoken to Elizabeth Sweet after she asked her students at Omsk State University to prepare a report on the region’s social and economic situation.

The FSB, which has recently launched high-profile spy cases against academics and foreigners, did not approve of Sweet’s methods, the spokeswoman said.

"This type of information, gained through unofficial sources, does not give a true reflection of the situation and if it was published abroad it could harm the image and competitiveness of our businesses," she said.

"So there was a discussion between the foreigner and an FSB employee at the university and it was explained that this activity could damage our organizations and our firms."

Borodin Stays Mum

GENEVA (AP) — Former Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin stayed silent during questioning by Swiss authorities Monday over his alleged involvement in the laundering of some $30 million in kickbacks, his lawyer said.

"He has no need to explain himself because he has committed no crime," said defense attorney Robert Assael.

But Borodin, who is free on bail, told reporters after the three-hour interrogation by Geneva magistrate Daniel Devaud that he would continue to appear before Swiss authorities as required.

Under the terms of his bail he is required to travel to Geneva for questioning whenever Swiss authorities ask.

Death Penalty Blasted

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Anatoly Pristavkin, chairman of the Presidential Pardons Commission, has waded into a fresh debate on whether Russia should lift a moratorium on the death penalty, saying President Vladimir Putin should resist such calls.

Pristavkin rejected calls by Justice Minister Yury Chaika and Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn to reinstate capital punishment to do away with terrorism and said society owed it to itself to uphold the 1996 moratorium.

Interethnic Agency

UFA, Bashkortostan (AP) — President Vladimir Putin, on a visit to the Bashkir republic, suggested Sunday that a special agency should be created to help Russia solve its interethnic problems.

Putin traveled to Ufa on an unofficial visit to celebrate a local holiday, Sabantui.

"Russia is a unique place on Earth," where different cultures and ethnic groups are located, Putin said. "This fusion has been forming and harmonically developing in Russia for thousands of years."

But, he admitted there are "certain difficulties" in bringing all the country’s cultures together.

"Perhaps a special agency should be set up within presidential structures that would engage in solving interethnic problems," Putin told the assembly members.

Swedish King to Visit

MOSCOW (AP) — Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf will pay a state visit to Russia from Oct. 8 to 13, the Swedish ambassador to Russia was quoted as saying.

Ambassador Sven Hirdman said the monarch would be accompanied by Queen Sylvia and Crown Princess Victoria, Itar-Tass reported.

They will visit Moscow, St. Petersburg and the Arctic cities of Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, and the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea.

Canada on Envoy

OTTAWA (Reuters) — Canada said it expects Russia to mete out severe punishment to a Russian diplomat who hit and killed a woman in Ottawa in a drunken-driving incident in January.

Russia refused to waive the immunity of Andrei Knyazev and recalled him to Moscow, launching criminal proceedings in February. A team of Russian police spent last week in Ottawa investigating the case.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley told reporters Friday that he fully expected the Russian authorities to charge Knyazev and bring him to trial.

The Russian team told reporters the maximum sentence Knyazev could receive would be five years. Had he been tried in Canada the maximum sentence would have been 14 years.

Canada is covering the cost of the Russian probe, estimated at 12,000 Canadian dollars ($8,000).

Flood Aid Sought

GENEVA (Reuters) — Russia has appealed for supplies including tents, food and medicine for nearly 50,000 people driven from their homes in Siberia by heavy flooding, the United Nations said.

The appeal, sent by the Foreign Ministry to Kenzo Oshima, UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said the worst affected area was the republic of Sakha in the northeast.

More than 6,000 residential buildings were flooded last month when a surge of meltwater forced major rivers to burst their banks, it added.

For the Record

Tamara Rokhlina, the widow of a general who was considered a hero for his activities in Chechnya, walked free from jail Friday, after the Supreme Court quashed her conviction for his murder. (Reuters)

Pharmaceutical tycoon and State Duma Deputy Vladimir Bryntsalov has left the People’s Deputy party for the pro-Kremlin Unity faction, Ekho Moskvy reported. His defection Friday gives Unity 82 deputies. (MT)