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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Sharon to Visit

MOSCOW (AP) ? President Vladimir Putin will meet with Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the Kremlin on Tuesday, the president's press service said Thursday.

The two will discuss the conflict in the Middle East and bilateral relations.

There have been suggestions in the Israeli media that Sharon could postpone his visit, set for Sunday to next Thursday. But Sharon, speaking to Russian journalists in Israel ahead of the visit, said the trip was much too important.

"It is very important to strengthen Israel's relations with Russia," the prime minister said Wednesday.

In comments cited by Interfax, Sharon praised Putin for maintaining a democratic climate in which "Jews can live their community life and freely emigrate."

Sharon said his key theme would be the "urgent need to combat Arab and Moslem terrorism, the main threat to stability in the Middle East."

Nazi Labor Payments

MOSCOW (AP) ? Russia will start distributing payments to survivors of Nazi slave labor Friday, as Germany has agreed to release the money without waiting for the Russian government to formally lift a 35.6 percent tax on the payments, an official said Thursday.

Authorities in Moscow have promised that no taxes will be levied on the money received by people who had been forced to work for the Nazi war machine, but have taken no formal measures to exempt the payments from the social tax.

Following consultations between Russian and German foundations in charge of distributing the funds, Germany has agreed to go ahead in the absence of formal guarantees, said th secretary of the Russian Fund for Understanding and Reconciliation, Alexei Troshkin.

On Friday, the first group of 2,000 survivors will begin getting payments.

Kursk Equipment

MOSCOW (AP) ? A barge with special underwater saws and other equipment for cutting off the fore section of the Kursk submarine arrived Thursday at the site of the Barents Sea salvage operation, the navy said.

The international team overseeing the operation began assembling the equipment after the Carrier barge arrived from Kirkenes, Norway, navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said in a statement.

The team is to cut off the first compartment, then lift the rest of the massive vessel to the surface and tow it to Murmansk, in a precarious operation scheduled for Sept. 15.

Carrier was escorted by a small missile-carrying ship and joined several ships already there, Dygalo said. Divers continued working on the sub Thursday, examining the line along which the front will be sliced off.

Caviar Bust

MIAMI, Florida (AP) ? Three Russians were arrested at Miami International Airport after authorities found almost 45 kilograms of caviar in their suitcases.

Prosecutors said a sniffer dog discovered the sturgeon roe caviar, which the Russians failed to declare to customs officers.

It is illegal to import sturgeon caviar under the endangered species act, Jorge Picon, a special agent with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said at the Russians' first court appearance Wednesday. Sturgeon caviar is worth about $500 to $1,000 a pound, he said in an affidavit.

Mikhail Kovtun, Mikhail Lya-khov and Inga Soldatenko were arrested Aug. 23 after arriving from Zurich. Lawyer Kenneth Swartz said the Russians did not think they were violating the law.

Pole Vaulters' Pajamas

BRISBANE, Australia (AP) ? The Russian-born pole vaulting team of Tatiana Grigorieva and Viktor Chistyakov have teamed up on another project: selling pajamas.

The married couple, who compete for Australia, unveiled their new clothing line Thursday, a set for men and women selling for about $25.

Why pajamas instead of casual wear? "It's something we can share," said Chistyakov, the fifth-place finisher at the Sydney Olympics.

"We didn't want to do anything too seriously," said Grigorieva, the silver medalist at last year's games. The two will be among the top contenders at the Goodwill Games, but not the favorites.

Rostov Race

MOSCOW (MT) ? Communist leaders have decried a decision by the Rostov regional elections committee to strike one of their party members from the gubernatorial race scheduled for Sept. 23.

Local Communist chief Leonid Ivanchenko was refused a spot on the ballot earlier this week, on grounds that 11 percent of the 56,037 signatures collected in support of his candidacy were questionable, while local law allows only 10 percent.

"We will not let scoundrels wipe their feet on hundreds of thousands of citizens," Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov was quoted by Kommersant as saying Wednesday, apparently referring to Rostov's regional authorities.

Incumbent Governor Vladimir Chub will also run for the post.

For the Record

Iran's defense minister will visit Russia Sunday to Thursday to discuss arms and nuclear power deals, Interfax quoted unnamed Foreign Ministry sources as saying Thursday. (Reuters)

An Mi-8 helicopter used to transport oil workers crashed Thursday northwest of Surgut in the Tyumen region in eastern Siberia, killing three crew members and a passenger, the Emergency Situations Ministry said. The reasons for the crash were not immediately known. (AP)

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria will make a state visit to Russia Oct. 8-12, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday. (AP)

Energy officials cut off power supply Thursday to 46 schools in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, the capital of the Kamchatka Peninsula, demanding payment of long-overdue debts, Itar-Tass reported. The power cut means that about 26,000 students will find their classrooms dark and will have no hot meals at school cafeterias, it said.(AP)