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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

2 Soldiers Kill Guards

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) — Two soldiers attacked a guard unit in southern Russia early Sunday, killing six guards before being captured in a traffic jam staged by police.

The two soldiers in an engineering unit in the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, 200 kilometers north of Rostov-on-Don, attacked the guards early Sunday, then fled after seizing two automatic rifles and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Alexei Polyakov.

Police in the region were put on alert and at one roadblock spotted a car with a driver and passenger and two soldiers acting suspiciously in the back seat, Polyakov said.

They allowed the car to pass, but staged a fake road accident further down the road, which caused traffic to back up. The two soldiers were arrested without incident in the traffic jam.

They were identified as Private Yevgeny Samoilov and Private Denis Smirnov, said Gennady Alyokhin, a spokesman for the headquarters of the Northern Caucasus military district.

The two had been planning for several months to steal arms and desert the army, then join a criminal group in Moscow, he said.

Samoilov, a Moscow resident, had served several years in prison before enlisting in the army, Alyokhin said. His crime was unclear.

March for Zavadsky

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Marking a year after the disappearance of a Russian cameraman, Belarussian journalists marched through Minsk on Saturday to demand information on the investigation from Belarus’ top prosecutor, interior minister and the KGB.

Dmitry Zavadsky, who worked for ORT television, was reported missing last July after he left for the Minsk airport to meet a colleague. He was one of several visible people who have disappeared in Belarus in recent years. Opposition groups say they were targeted because they ran afoul of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has suppressed dissent in this former Soviet republic.

Belarussian Interior Minister Vladimir Naumov said Saturday that the cameraman was kidnapped and that the operation was led by a former officer from the elite Almaz police force angered by Zavadsky’s reports. Naumov said the investigation has been completed and that it would be submitted to a court within the next few weeks, news reports said.

Dozens of Belarussian journalists, wearing T-shirts with Zavadsky’s portrait, protested outside the Interior Ministry, Prosecutor General’s Office and Belarus’ intelligence agency, still called the KGB. They expressed skepticism of the official version of what happened and demanded access to information on the case.

6 Electrocuted

MOSCOW (AP) — Six teenagers were electrocuted when they climbed out of a man-made lake in western Russia and unwittingly grasped a cable providing power to water pumps, officials said Saturday.

The victims, all from 13 to 17 years old, had been swimming in the popular reservoir Friday afternoon when they tried to hoist themselves up on a metal platform attached to the cable, said Nikolai Zavodovsky, duty officer of the Penza region.

The cable was carrying electricity to a motor pumping water into the lake in the village of Lesny, about 560 kilometers southeast of Moscow.

Emergency officials blamed the accident on negligence of elementary safety rules by a prison that borders the lake, and a criminal case was opened into the incident.

Congress on Press

MOSCOW (AP) — Members of a U.S. Congressional delegation urged the Russian government Friday to respect press freedom, calling it a key condition for the country’s democratic development and cooperation with the West.

"We feel strongly that if Russia is to be integrated into the West, into the European Community, that freedom of speech and the press is very, very important," Dick Gephardt, Democrat minority leader of the House of Representatives, said at a news conference.

Gephardt and members of his delegation raised the freedom of press issue at their meetings with Russian officials and also met with representatives of the independent media.

"There is no democracy if there is no free expression and no free press," said Jane Harman, a California Democrat. "We are here to celebrate many things that are going well in this country [and] to learn about many things that may not be going as well."

Members of the delegation also discussed other issues, including the U.S. missile defense plans that Russia vehemently opposes.

"We have discussed a lot about missile defense," Gephardt said. "I believe we should also be pressing forward with cooperative efforts to reduce common threats to our nations.

"We should continue to pursue nuclear weapons cuts through reciprocal and verifiable reductions, and we must work more closely together to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," he added.

The delegation members later met with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who said that U.S.-Russian relations have become more stable following last month’s summit between U.S. President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin.

Dig for St. Matthew

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — A group of Kyrgyz archeologists said Thursday that it intends to look for the burial site of St. Matthew, one of Jesus Christ’s 12 apostles, near Issyk-Kul Lake.

Vladimir Ploskikh, a member of Kyrgyzstan’s Academy of Sciences, said the expedition, inspired by old legends, will set out under his lead in the near future.

A manuscript of a long-ago archbishop known as Vladimir says the body "was kept in a monastery on the shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake and the whole Christian world knew about it," according to Ploskikh.

The vast lake lies in northeastern Kyrgyzstan, near the borders with China and Kazakhstan.