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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kursk Setbacks?

MOSCOW (AP) ? Technical plans for raising the mangled bow of the Kursk submarine should be ready by October or November, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said Saturday, according to Interfax.

The announcement came a day after Klebanov announced that the raising of the rest of the vessel, set for Sept. 15, may be postponed for a week because rough weather in the Barents Sea has delayed preparatory work.

The statement by Klebanov, who is in charge of the salvage operation, was the first official signal that the lifting could be pushed back.

Klebanov said officials were still sticking to the Sept. 15 target date and they expected to wrap up the operation by Sept. 20-21, when the submarine is to be put in dry dock near Murmansk. However, he said the date for ending the operation could "theoretically" be pushed back to Sept. 25-27, news agencies reported.

Sakhalin Quake

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (Reuters) ? New tremors struck Sakhalin Island on Sunday, opening cracks in buildings and keeping many residents out of their homes for a second day. No injuries were reported.

Seismologists on Sakhalin, north of Japan, said about 30 shocks had been recorded in 24 hours, with magnitude ranging up to six on the Richter scale. ORT showed families spending the night on the street, with bonfires blazing.

Belarus Riot Drill

OBUZ-LESNOVSKY, Belarus (Reuters) ? Belarussian troops staged anti-riot exercises Friday, a week before the country holds presidential elections.

Watched at a military training ground by President Alexander Lukashenko, dressed in full military uniform, special forces rehearsed tactics to quell riots and seal off Minsk in case of an uprising.

Witnesses said troops practiced with dogs while snatch squads rehearsed dragging away violent protesters as officers showed Lukashenko contingency plans on a large-scale map. The event was part of general military exercises that also involved troops from Russia.

Nikitin Honored

WASHINGTON (Reuters) ? The United States has awarded environmental activist Alexander Nikitin a five-month research fellowship in Washington, the State Department said Friday.

Nikitin, the former navy officer who exposed environmental problems connected to Russia's Northern Fleet, will do research on nongovernmental organizations and their relations with authorities, it said in a statement.

Nikitin was charged with treason in 1996 and jailed for 10 months. In December 1999, he was acquitted of all charges. He is one of two recipients of the annual Galina Starovoitova fellowships. The other recipient is William Smirnov, a political scientist based in Moscow. They will be based at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

French Troops Stuck

MOSCOW (MT) ? Ninety French paratroopers who came to Russia on a military exchange program spent about seven hours stuck at Sheremetyevo Airport due to a dispute over customs and visa formalities, news agencies reported.

The paratroopers, bound for the 106th Airborne Division in Tula, were stopped by customs officials Friday on the grounds that they lacked proper documents for their weapons, AP reported.

The soldiers finally set out late in the evening, leaving behind their weapons until customs formalities could be handled. Interfax reported that three had outdated visas, which further held up the group until the Russian air force agreed to cover the cost of new visas. A group of Russian paratroopers from the Tula division left for France on a reciprocal visit Saturday, Interfax quoted air force chief Georgy Shpak as saying.

Summit Questioned

MOSCOW (WP) ? The Kremlin hinted Friday that President Vladimir Putin might not meet President George W. Bush at his Texas ranch for a planned November summit on missile defense and other issues.

A high-ranking Kremlin aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RIA-Novosti the meeting was "not an end in itself'' and depends on what happens when the leaders get together in Shanghai at an economic summit in October.

Interfax quoted a Kremlin aide as saying a November meeting is "absolutely unnecessary'' if its purpose is solely to nurture the friendly spirit of the leaders' June meeting in Slovenia.

In Washington, asked how confident the administration is that the Texas meeting will take place, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "I think there's no question that [it] will occur.

Moscow Gets Complex

MOSCOW (Interfax) ?As part of City Day celebrations, Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov and members of the city government opened a sports complex Sunday in the Strogino region of northwest Moscow,.

The "Comet" complex includes sports halls, weights rooms, four tennis courts and is expected to be able to accommodate more than 600 people a day.