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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechnya Crime List

NAZRAN, Ingushetia (AP) ? For the first time during the two-year war in Chechnya, the Kremlin on Thursday released detailed information about servicemen convicted of crimes against civilians in the breakaway region.

The list of 15 servicemen, which identified the convicts only by their initials and military ranks, was published in the official daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta.

Thursday?s list contained two soldiers sentenced to 15 and 12 years in prison each for killing four civilians in the village of Alkhan-Kala last December and another one sentenced to 11 years in prison for killing a civilian and wounding another in the city of Shatoi the same month. Another two soldiers were also sentenced to 12 and nine years for killing a Chechen woman and badly injuring her sister in the village of Khankala in February 2000. The terse report said the convicts stole the women?s property and set their house on fire to cover up the crime. Both servicemen were drunk at the time of the crime, it said. The soldiers were tried in a closed military court.

In an interview published along with the list, deputy chief military prosecutor Yury Yakovlev claimed that many crimes blamed on troops were in fact committed by militants, clad in the same combat fatigues.

"It?s difficult to distinguish a soldier from a rebel, and the criminals take advantage of that," Yakovlev said.

Kursk Port Evacuation

MOSCOW (AP) ? Regional officials in the Murmansk region on Thursday discussed an evacuation plan for the town where the mangled nuclear submarine Kursk is to be taken once it is raised from the Barents Sea, a news report said.

Also Thursday, an official of the Dutch consortium running the salvage operation said the lifting of the wreck may begin Sept. 27, a two-day delay from the previous start date.

"The slight delay has been caused by the weather," Vyacheslav Zakharov, head of the Russian office of the Dutch Mammoet company, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Once the wreck is raised, it is to be taken to the floating dock of the local ship repair plant in Roslyakovo, a town of about 12,000. Murmansk Governor Yury Yevdokimov chaired a meeting of officials to work out an evacuation plan for Roslyakovo if any nuclear danger arises from the operation, Interfax said.

Hotels and hospitals in the area will be ready to receive evacuees and 88 buses will be made available if residents have to leave.

The chief radiation expert for Atomflot, which runs the nuclear icebreaker fleet, said in a newspaper interview Thursday that extreme caution must be used in raising the Kursk?s remains.

Gorbachev on Attacks

BERLIN (Reuters) ? Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended Moscow?s nine-year military intervention in Afghanistan, called for caution in response to the attacks on the World Trade Center in an interview published Thursday.

"When one finds out that some terrorists studied in ? Hamburg, one would not bomb Hamburg," Gorbachev told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper. "We shouldn?t lose our heads. We need a dialogue with Islam."

The United States suspects that three students at Germany?s Hamburg Technical University flew three of the four hijacked planes used in last week?s attacks.

Gorbachev withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1988, ending a conflict that started at the end of 1979 and resulted in at least 13,000 Soviet deaths.

"This war was not only a trauma for us, it taught us an important lesson," the last Soviet leader said. "How can one wage a conventional war in this mountainous country? By again introducing tanks and bombing cities? By sending in soldiers to bring areas under control? I cannot imagine this."

Lukashenko Pardon

MINSK, Belarus (Reuters) ? Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has pardoned a German man jailed for espionage and may free an Italian convicted last week of spying, the Belarussian KGB said Thursday, the day Lukashenko was inaugurated in Minsk.

KGB spokesman Fyodor Kotov said the security service had received an order from Lukashenko to free Christophe Letz, a German citizen sentenced in June to seven years in prison after being found guilty of espionage.

"He will be taken to the airport and handed over to officials from the German Embassy to leave Belarus today," Kotov said.

Letz did not plead guilty to the charges and the trial was held behind closed doors. Kotov said Antonio Piu, an Italian man convicted one week ago on espionage charges and sentenced to four and a half years in prison, and Irina Ushak, a Belarussian woman convicted of treason, may also receive pardons.

For the Record

Bulgaria, in line with pledges to the European Union, will introduce entry visas for Russian nationals from Oct. 1, which businesses say may hamper trade. (Reuters)

Yuly Dubov, deputy director of the LogoVAZ car dealership, has filed a libel suit against Nezavisimaya Gazeta?s former editor Vitaly Tretyakov. In an interview with Kommersant this week, Dubov also said Tretyakov is no longer the general director of the non-commercial Redaktsia Nezavisimoi Gazety, which still controls certain aspects of the paper?s work. (MT)

Two German Red Army Faction members were behind a 1991 bomb attack that targeted Jewish immigrants from Russia, a Hungarian newspaper reported Thursday. (AP)