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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Shanghai Five Talks

The Associated Press

BEIJING — Leaders from Russia, China and four Central Asian nations are to gather June 14-15 in Shanghai for a meeting aimed at combating militant Islam, China said Thursday.

Leaders of the Shanghai Five group will try to improve cooperation in combating terrorism, separatism and extremism, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao.

The forum was set up by Russia and China to counter growing U.S. influence in Central Asia.

Named for the city where it first met in 1997, it has focused increasingly on the task of combating drug smuggling and the spread of militant Islam.

The meeting will "explore new types of state to state relations and new security concepts," Zhu said at a regular press briefing.

Attending the meeting in Shanghai will be presidents Vladimir Putin, Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan.

Capital Punishment

The Associated Press

STRASBOURG, France — The president of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly said Thursday that Russia was risking its membership in the human rights organization if it reinstates the death penalty.

"This would inevitably lead to the questioning of whether Russia is fit to continue as a member of the Council of Europe," said Lord Russell-Johnston, president of the council's 602-member assembly, adding that if Moscow was to do so, it would have "serious implications for its status in the organization."

Justice Minister Yury Chaika has called for the reintroduction of capital punishment for convicted terrorists.

Moscow imposed a moratorium on executions after it joined the European human rights body in 1996. Later, it banned judges from passing down death sentences until a jury system is adopted throughout the country — a project that President Vladimir Putin ordered to be completed by 2003.

Blast Hits Embassy


MINSK, Belarus — Unidentified attackers threw a hand grenade into the compound of the Russian Embassy in Belarus hours before President Vladimir Putin was due to arrive in the city for a summit, Belarussian officials said Thursday.

An official at Belarus' presidential Security Council said no one was hurt in the incident, which happened shortly before midnight Wednesday.

He said the grenade hit a tree and bounced back toward the perimeter fence before going off.

The official said the grenade was of a type used by advancing troops and designed to produce more sound than destruction. Russian news agencies said the blast caused only minor damage.

Belarussian presidential spokesman Nikolai Borisevich said President Alexander Lukashenko had convened security officials in emergency session to discuss the attack.

Belarus is hosting a summit of 12 former Soviet republics on Friday.

Witnesses' Loss


A court has overturned a legal victory for the Jehovah's Witnesses that had prevented the liquidation of the group's Moscow communities, news agencies reported.

The decision Wednesday cancels out the Jehovah's Witnesses' triumph in February after a two-year courtroom battle, which focused on a 1997 law that forces faiths without a long history in Russia to undergo a convoluted registration process.

"It's a political case, directed against the rights of religious groups," RIA Novosti quoted lawyers for the Jehovah's Witnesses as saying.

Grenade Defused

The Associated Press

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan — A grenade-launcher rigged to explode like a mine was discovered Thursday outside an apartment building where government officials of Dagestan reside, a police spokeswoman said.

The device was noticed by a passer-by, who alerted police. Sappers took the device to a far corner of the park that surrounds the apartment building and detonated it, said spokeswoman Zaira Abdurakhmabiva.

Among the residents of the building is the chairman of the republic's parliament, Mukhu Aliyev, and deputy government chairman Ilyas Umakhanov, Itar-Tass reported.

Yeltsin Takes It Easy

The Moscow Times

Former President Boris Yeltsin is relaxing in an exclusive Yellow Sea villa used previously by Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong and hired out for 120,000 yuan ($15,500) a night, Agence France Presse reported.

Yeltsin, accompanied by an 18-member delegation, which includes at least six doctors, arrived at the villa in the resort city of Dalian on Tuesday and was expected to stay for 10 days, AFP quoted a hotel manager as saying.

She said Yeltsin reserved two villas at the exclusive Bangchuidao Guesthouse and was with his wife, Naina, and daughter Tatyana Dyachenko in villa No. 4, where Chinese revolutionary Mao also stayed. The Chinese Foreign Ministry is paying the bill, AFP said.

Yeltsin arrived in China on Monday and met with President Jiang Zemin in Beijing before heading for the resort. A Yeltsin aide had said the former president would try traditional Chinese treatments.

The manager said the hotel has no medical facilities.