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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Rebels Claim Victory



MOSCOW (Reuters) — Chechen rebels said Monday they had taken control of a town and village in the strategic southern mountains of the region.

The Kremlin declined to comment on reports of fighting in the Vedeno district, where rebels said they had seized control of the main town, Vedeno, and the village of Tsa-Vedeno and were still holding them after three days.

It was the second time the rebels had said they captured villages in that area this month.

Movladi Udugov, a rebel spokesman, said by telephone from an undisclosed location that Arab-born guerrilla chief Khattab had been leading the units near Vedeno.

Udugov said warplanes had bombed the area during three days of fighting, an armored column trying to recapture Vedeno was destroyed and an infantry assault repelled.

Interfax quoted military officials as denying Udugov’s claims.

Kremlin spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky’s office declined to comment, but earlier this month made light of rebel attacks in the area.

Udugov said rebels also took responsibility for two mine attacks on troop trucks in Grozny, as well as attacks on troops in several other areas. Interfax said five policemen were killed and 14 wounded in two separate land mine blasts in Grozny.




Kidnapper Sentenced



NALCHIK, Southern Russia (AP) — A regional court on Monday sentenced a Chechen refugee to 7 1/2 years in prison for kidnapping an Israeli teenager held in Chechnya for five months before her release.

The Supreme Court of Kabardino-Balkaria pronounced Bulat Umalatov guilty of abducting Laura Likhtman in July 1999, after a two-week trial. Umalatov’s lawyer pledged to appeal.

Likhtman, now 19, took leave from her service in the Israeli army to attend the trial. She was born in Nalchik, but emigrated to Israel.

Umalatov, 22, had fled fighting in the 1994-96 war in Chechnya and was living as a refugee in Nalchik when he met Likhtman, who spent summers with her grandmother here. Likhtman was kidnapped and was later taken to Chechnya. Her grandmother received a note demanding $1 million in ransom.

Police freed her in December 1999. No details were released, including whether a ransom was paid.

Umalatov, who was arrested last summer, testified that he had borrowed $10,000 from two Chechen men, who said he could pay back the debt by kidnapping Likhtman.




Minsk Expels Activist



MOSCOW (MT) — Belarussian authorities have deported a U.S. citizen accused of participating in illicit campaign activities to support Vladimir Goncharik, the main opponent of President Alexander Lukashenko in upcoming elections, Kommersant reported Monday.

The paper said Belarussian television showed the man, identified as Robert Fielding, a representative of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, being placed on a train to Poland on Sunday. Belarussian election law forbids foreigners to take part in campaign "agitation."

The report quoted Goncharik, chairman of Belarus’ trade union federation, as saying his organization had not invited Fielding to Minsk.

However, Viktor Babayed, the leader of an independent trade union organization, said Fielding came at the invitation of his group to help ensure voter turnout. "Fielding did not agitate for Goncharik," Babayed was quoted as saying. "That is a blatant provocation."




German Deportation



MOSCOW (AP) — Ethnic Germans discussed their hopes for official political rehabilitation and other minority problems at a conference that started Monday, the 60th anniversary of the deportation of more than 1 million Germans from Russia to Siberia and Central Asia.

Some 200 ethnic Germans residing in different areas in the former Soviet Union were joined by Russian and German officials at the two-day conference in Moscow.

Germans came to Russia more than 200 years ago at the invitation of the German-born Empress Catherine the Great, who granted them land and other special privileges in return for helping modernize the country. As the Soviets battled with Nazi Germany in World War II, Josef Stalin ordered all ethnic Germans living in the Volga region deported to Siberia and Kazakhstan as potential traitors. Thousands died doing hard labor.

Up to 1.5 million Germans live in Russia today, Itar-Tass reported.

Representatives of the community called on President Vladimir Putin to complete the process of rehabilitation, according to a news release by the conference organizers.




Suspect Arrested



DONETSK, Ukraine (Reuters) — Police in Ukraine have arrested a man suspected of killing an investigative reporter, an official said Monday, but declined to speculate on the motive for the latest in a string of attacks on journalists.

Igor Alexandrov, director of private television and radio company TOR, who sought to expose corruption, died in hospital four days after four men attacked him with baseball bats in his office in the town of Slavyansk in eastern Ukraine in July.

Viktor Yanukovich, head of the Donetsk regional government, said Monday a man had been taken into custody. He declined to name him, citing secrecy rules during murder probes. The murder of Alexandrov, 45, was the 11th killing of a journalist in Ukraine in five years.




Lokomotiv Beats Anzhi



RAMENSKOYE, Moscow Region (Reuters) — Lokomotiv Moscow warmed up for a replay with Austria's Tirol in a Champions League qualifier by thrashing Anzhi Makhachkala 4-0 in a Premier League match Sunday.

UEFA on Friday upheld Tirol's appeal to replay the second leg of their third qualifying tie, which Lokomotiv won 1-0 for an aggregate 4-1 victory to reach the group stage of the Champions League.

Anzhi was gunning for revenge after a heartbreaking defeat against Lokomotiv in the Russian Cup final two months ago when it was leading 1-0 with a minute left before conceding a goal in stoppage time and losing the penalty shootout.




Uzbeks Defeat Qatar



TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) — Uzbekistan defeated Qatar 2-1 in an Asian Group B World Cup qualifier Sunday, handing the Qatari team its first defeat in qualifying for the 2002 tournament.

Jafar Irismetov gave Uzbekistan the lead in the 36th minute, scoring from a goalmouth scramble following a corner kick. Uzbekistan started the second half in style, going 2-0 up in the 50th minute when Mirjalol Kasymov fired into the upper left corner of Qatar's goal.




For the Record



Subsiding storms allowed an international diving team to resume carving and clearing work Monday on the sunken Kursk nuclear submarine, to prepare it for an ambitious lifting operation next month, officials said. (AP)

Former Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin arrived Monday in Geneva for questioning on money-laundering charges, Interfax reported. This would be Borodin’s fifth meeting with investigators. His lawyer Eleonora Sergeyeva was quoted as saying her client would remain silent, as before. (MT)

President Vladimir Putin on Monday received credentials of ambassadors of Uruguay, Columbia, Denmark, China, Slovenia, Brunei, Iceland and India, and in a brief speech addressed Russia’s ties with their nations. In his remarks, Putin reiterated Russia’s call for a stronger global role for the United Nations, calling it essential for global stability. (AP)