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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechen Village Raid

VLADIKAVKAZ, Southern Russia (AP) Federal forces combed a Chechen village for suspected rebels Wednesday, sending hundreds of civilians fleeing for refugee camps amid reports of summary executions of detainees by troops.

The police operation in Sernovodsk, near Chechnyas border with Ingushetia, began Monday after five police officers died in a car bombing, officials and residents reported.

Shortly after the blast, all exits from the village were sealed by police, and federal forces began a search for any men aged 15 to 60.

Since Monday, about 500 refugees have fled to an Ingush refugee camp across the border.

Spains Speaker Visits

MOSCOW (AP) The speaker of the Spanish Senate, Esperanza Aguirre, met in Moscow on Wednesday with Russias prime minister, foreign minister and Orthodox Church patriarch, all of whom praised relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said after meeting her that "Russian-Spanish cooperation is rising to a new and unprecedented high-intensity level," Itar-Tass reported.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said President Vladimir Putin and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Aznar will exchange visits next year.

Telegram of Support

MOSCOW (AP) Communists sent a telegram to the UN detention unit in The Hague on Wednesday to express support for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who is being held on charges of war crimes.

"On behalf of hundreds of thousands of Russian Communists I am sending you a message of support and solidarity," wrote Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party.

Milosevic was extradited to the UN war crimes tribunal in the Netherlands last week and first appeared before the court Tuesday.

"We consider the so-called extradition to The Hague as an abduction, a gross violation of human rights, and a crime," Zyuganov said.

Sub Disaster Marked

MOSCOW (Reuters) Navy veterans met at a Moscow cemetery on Wednesday to mark 40 years since the former Soviet Unions first nuclear submarine disaster, while plans went ahead to raise the Kursk, the latest Russian submarine to sink.

On July 4, 1961, the K-19, the Soviets first nuclear-powered submarine, ran into trouble when its nuclear cooling system malfunctioned on its maiden voyage.

Eight crew members died from radiation poisoning after exposing themselves to the reactor to prevent a potentially disastrous nuclear explosion.

A tragic tale in anyones book, but all the more relevant for Russians still reeling from last Augusts sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine along with all its 118 crew members.

An operation to raise the Kursk, which was ripped open by two unexplained explosions and sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea, is due to be completed in September.

Navy commander Vladimir Kuroyedov flew Wednesday to Severomorsk to personally oversee the preparations for the lifting of the submarine, news agencies reported.

4th of July Greetings

MOSCOW (AP) Expressing optimism about U.S.-Russian relations, President Vladimir Putin congratulated U.S. President George W. Bush on Independence Day on Wednesday.

"With optimism I look to the future of Russian-American relations," Putin said in a statement released by the Kremlin press service. "Together we have laid a positive foundation for a new stage in bilateral cooperation."

The two leaders met for the first time last month in Slovenia.

Envoys to Georgia

MOSCOW (Reuters) Russia dispatched senior officials on Wednesday to Georgias breakaway Abkhazia region to settle a dispute over a military base that Russian troops have continued to occupy despite a lapsed deadline to withdraw.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin and deputy paratroop commander Alexander Popov had flown to Abkhazia for talks with the separatist authorities.

Borodin Questioned

GENEVA (AP) Former Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin on Wednesday met for a fourth time with a Swiss investigator looking into corruption charges against him.

Borodin, accompanied by his lawyers, arrived at 9 a.m. for a meeting ordered by investigating magistrate Daniel Devaud.

Borodin refused to answer Devauds questions during an interrogation Tuesday, and was expected to remain silent during Wednesdays meeting.

Swiss authorities have charged Borodin with laundering $30 million in kickbacks in exchange for lucrative construction contracts.

Lukashenko Beaned

MINSK, Belarus (Reuters) Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko was struck by a small object thrown from the crowd as he competed in a roller-skiing race along a street in Minsk on Tuesday.

Lukashenko said he suffered a light scratch on his leg when he was hit by the object during an Independence Day roller-ski relay race.

Roller-skiing is similar to cross-country skiing on snow, but uses short skis with wheels on each end to travel along roads and pavements.

Interfax said police had arrested several people and authorities would scan video footage to find the culprit.

Witnesses said they saw Lukashenko, wearing a huge grin, blue shorts and a red No. 1 jersey, raise his fists in the air as he crossed the finishing line in first place.