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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

No Gay Parade

MOSCOW (AP) The Mayors Office on Monday harshly rebuffed requests for a permission to hold a Gay Pride parade, saying such an event would amount to "propaganda of dissipation."

With various festive parades a typical sight in Moscow during holidays, the office of Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said it has been flooded by requests to allow a Gay Pride parade. The latest one asked for a parade to be held on City Day this fall, when various other groups march across downtown Moscow.

Luzhkovs press service issued a stern statement saying that "the city government will not allow holding this march in Moscow on City Day or on any other day because such demonstrations outrage the majority of the capitals population, are in effect propaganda of dissipation and force upon society unacceptable norms of behavior."

Homosexuality was a crime punishable by prison time in the Soviet era. Gay culture grown in Moscow and other large cities in the past decade, but remains frowned upon by most of the population.

Luzhkovs statement added that homosexuality "goes against traditional moral values of most Russians, as well as the canons of the main religious confessions in the city."

747 Forced Down

MOSCOW (MT) A Pakistani passenger plane was forced to land at Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday amid a dispute over its use of Russian airspace, but it was allowed to resume its flight shortly afterward, the air force said Monday.

A MiG-29 fighter forced the Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 747 down when its pilots ignored instructions from air traffic controllers, the air force said.

It was unclear what the instructions were.

The Pakistani Embassy said Monday that Russia has charged that the flight was not approved.

But the embassy added that a March 25 agreement had authorized the Sunday flight from Karachi, Pakistan, to Manchester, England.

The plane was allowed to resume its journey later Sunday.

In 1983, a Soviet jet fighter shot down a Korean Airlines 747 in the Far East after Moscow determined the plane had invaded Russias airspace. All 269 passengers on board died.

Crimea Premier Quits

KIEV (AP) In an attempt to ease political tensions on the Crimean Peninsula, President Leonid Kuchma on Monday accepted a vote by the Black Sea regions parliament dismissing Crimeas prime minister, Kuchmas spokesman said.

The legislature ousted pro-Kuchma Prime Minister Serhiy Kunitsyn last week, but Kunitsyn refused to leave his post, saying Kuchma had not given the required approval.

The parliament, led by Communist Speaker Leonid Hrach, also voted last week to appoint Kunitsyns deputy as the new prime minister.

Kuchma accepted Kunitsyns dismissal on Monday, saying that yearlong political infighting between Crimeas parliament and executive branch was damaging to the autonomous republics social and political situation and that the two branches of power needed to work together.

But rather than approving the nomination of Kunitsyns deputy, Kuchma backed legislator Valery Horbatov for the post, spokesman Oleksandr Martynenko said. Horbatov served as Kuchmas personal representative in Crimea in 1994-96. Crimeas parliament is due to debate the nomination on Wednesday.

Georgia on Hostages

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said Monday that two Spanish businessmen who were abducted eight months ago may be freed shortly.

Francisco Rodriguez and Antonio Trivino were seized by armed men on Nov. 30 on their way to the international airport outside Tbilisi. According to Georgian officials, the two worked for Geomadera, a Spanish-Georgian joint venture engaged in wood and stone exports.

"Work in this direction is going on actively, and they may be freed in the nearest future," Shevardnadze told reporters.

Kursk Hull Marked

MOSCOW (AP) The operation to raise the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine was proceeding as planned Monday, with divers continuing to mark places on the hull where steel cables would be attached for lifting the vessel, the navy said.

Over the weekend, divers again examined the submarines mangled front part to make sure it could be safely cut off from the rest of the vessel, navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said, according to news reports.

Taking Jury Notes

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) Judges and prosecutors from the Arctic Circle city of Arkhangelsk have been in the U.S. state of Maine watching the jury trial process as they prepare to introduce a similar system.

Some of the differences are obvious. In America, defendants are allowed to wear street clothes and are not bound. In Russia, defendants are bound in handcuffs, chains and held in a cage while standing trial before a panel of three judges.

Visitors are observing trials in Cumberland County Superior Court in Portland.

Ludmila Kovtunyuk, a prosecutor who watched the trial of a man accused of raping and beating a woman, said she found the U.S. system unusual.

"It was a bit difficult for me, to see the person who is the subject of such a trial to be sitting there, with no restraints, freely in the courtroom," Kovtunyuk said.

Vladimir Bounkov, deputy chief judge of the regional federal court, said such a trial would have taken much less time in Russia. Judges in the United States listen more and talk less during trials, he added.

Bounkov also noted "a theatrical element" to American trials as lawyers appealed to juries to accept their interpretation of events and the law.