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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Army Power Cut

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- Several military facilities in and around the Pacific port of Vladivostok were temporarily cut off from power supplies Thursday because of outstanding debts to the local power company.

Army, navy and air force units suffered blackouts for six hours, said Mikhail Tsedrik, spokesman for the Dalenergo power company.

Regional media quoted military commanders as saying that the cuts did not undermine the units' combat readiness because the affected units switched to alternative power supplies provided by batteries and diesel power generators.

Tsedrik said the electricity was turned on again after the Defense Ministry in Moscow pledged to pay the 200 million ruble ($6.7 million) debt it has accumulated in the region by the end of January.

Motsak Gets New Job

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A top naval officer sacked in a purge of the Northern Fleet after the sinking of the Kursk submarine was appointed to a senior position Wednesday, the second such official to get a prestigious new job.

A Kremlin statement said President Vladimir Putin had appointed Mikhail Motsak, the fleet's former chief of staff, to the post of deputy to the president's official envoy to the Northwest Federal District.

Motsak mapped out and oversaw manoeuvres during which the nuclear-powered Kursk crashed to the bottom of the Barents Sea with the loss of the entire 118 crew. He was in charge of the operation to lift the wreck from the Arctic waters last November, 15 months after it sank.

The fleet's commander, Vyacheslav Popov, was appointed this month to be a representative for the Murmansk region in the Federation Council.

On Thursday, investigators pulled a body out from under debris inside the Kursk, Northern Fleet prosecutor Vladimir Mulov said.

So far 93 bodies have been recovered from the submarine.

Bush's TV6 Concerns

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The shutdown of TV6 is a continuing concern for U.S. President George W. Bush, the White House said Thursday.

Bush has raised the subject of free media consistently with President Vladimir Putin, dating back to their first meeting in Slovenia last summer, said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.

Fleischer did not say whether Bush had contacted Putin about the Press Ministry's decision to unplug the station. But, he said, "At every stage along the process, as the free media have faced hurdles and difficulties in Russia, the administration has directly contacted the Russians, has directly spoken out."

"It remains a point of concern," Fleischer said.

Art Work Recovered

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- A painting believed to be a Marc Chagall work stolen last year from the Jewish Museum in New York City turned up at a postal installation in Topeka, Kansas, the FBI said.

Agents said the 20-by-25-centimeter oil is probably the French-Russian painter's "Study for 'Over Vitebsk,"' valued at about $1 million.

The work was stolen after a party at the museum June 8. A group calling itself the International Committee for Art and Peace later said the painting would be returned only after the Israelis and Palestinians made peace.

A package recently declared undeliverable at a postal facility in St. Paul, Minnesota, was shipped to another installation in Topeka, where such mail is opened for identification. Workers there found the painting Tuesday and called the FBI after noticing stickers from several museums on the back.

The painting is now headed to New York for further authentication.

Sutyagin Appeal

MOSCOW (AP) -- A leading human rights watchdog appealed to the Supreme Court to review a local court's ruling in the spy trial involving Igor Sutyagin.

The Vienna, Austria-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights expressed concern Wednesday about a December court ruling to send Sutyagin's case back for further investigation after prosecutors failed to prove his guilt.

The court ruled that Sutyagin, an arms control researcher accused of providing information on Russia's combat readiness to the United States, should remain in jail.

"It is troublesome that in spite of its observations on the irregularities of the case and the absence of evidence," the Kaluga court did not bring a not-guilty verdict, the federation wrote in a letter to the Supreme Court judges.

"The fact that the investigators have all that time been unable to build up a case is not a valid reason to submit a person to the inhuman treatment he suffers in the detention facility."

Sutyagin has been in jail since October 1999.

Siberian Tiger Census

MOSCOW (Russia) -- Scientists in the country's Far East have begun a count of the dwindling numbers of Siberian tigers, one of the world's endangered species, Itar-Tass said Thursday.

Itar-Tass quoted biologist Dmitry Pikunov of the Pacific Ocean Geography Institute as saying deep snow in which the beasts left clear prints meant scientists could carry out their census.

There is no exact figure for the number of Siberian tigers still roaming wild in the Far Eastern forest wilderness, but wildlife experts place the figure at between 300 and 400 -- less than the number of tigers in captivity, estimated at around 490.

Widespread poaching, loss of habitat and lack of government funds to protect Siberia's wildlife has caused a sharp fall in numbers of both tigers and leopards.

For the Record

The population shrank by 781,800 people over the first 11 months of last year, dropping by 0.5 percent to 144 million, the State Statistics Committee said Wednesday. (AP)

Chechen rebels are in telephone contact with the Kremlin but there are no immediate plans to relaunch peace talks after a first and only meeting last year, the rebel envoy, Akhmed Zakayev, said Thursday. (Reuters)