Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Japanese Cult Trial

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (Reuters) -- Three Russian members of Japan's Aum Shinri Kyo doomsday sect were jailed Wednesday for planning to plant explosives in Japan to free their imprisoned guru.

A court in Vladivostok convicted the men of plotting to blackmail the Japanese government into freeing Aum leader Shoko Asahara, on trial on charges of organizing a 1995 gas attack in the Tokyo subway.

Dmitry Sigachyov, leader of the Russian group, was sentenced to eight years in jail. Co-defendants Boris Tupeiko and Dmitry Voronov were sentenced to 6 1/2 and 4 1/2 years, respectively. Alexander Shevchenko was handed a five-year suspended jail sentence, and a fifth member of the group, Alexei Yorchuk, was certified insane.

Bykov Trail Delayed

MOSCOW (MT) -- Moscow's Meshchansky municipal court on Wednesday ruled to postpone the trial of former metals magnate Anatoly Bykov until Feb. 4, pending the arrival of his former associate Vilor Struganov, whom Bykov allegedly attempted to assassinate.

The court decided that it would violate Struganov's rights to proceed without him present. Struganov is in pretrial detention in Krasnoyarsk on charges of arranging the bombing of a polling station in December.

Pasko Pardon

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian human rights groups said Wednesday that they may ask President Vladimir Putin to pardon convicted journalist Grigory Pasko.

Pasko has refused to seek a presidential pardon. However, Pasko's lawyer, Anatoly Pyshkin, suggested in an interview with Interfax that the military journalist might allow the human rights groups to make the request on his behalf.

Alexander Tkachenko, of the Pen-Center and the Glasnost Defense Foundation, said Wednesday that the human rights groups would submit the request only with Pasko's prior approval.

U.S. Frets on TV6

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The United States questioned the legality of the abrupt, Soviet-style closure of TV6 on Tuesday and said political authorities could have stopped it if they wanted.

"The legal action and the closure of TV6 are extremely difficult to understand in any business or any financial context," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

"For some time there's been a very strong appearance of political pressure in the judicial process against Russia's independent media, including in this case," he added.

Book-Swap Hits Snag

MOSCOW (MT) -- Despite objections from government officials and the general public, the pro-Kremlin Moving Together youth organization will continue a controversial book-swap aimed at encouraging young readers to turn in works of popular contemporary fiction and of Karl Marx to receive books favored by the organization.

The book-swap was initially to start this week but had to be delayed by two weeks when Soviet-era writer Boris Vasilyev withdrew.

The movement's spokesman, Konstantin Levedev, said a new set of books will replace Vasilyev's works.

For the Record

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov plans to visit Afghanistan early next month to emphasize the importance the Kremlin places on being part of the international effort to rebuild the shattered country, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. (AP)

The State Duma voted 296-0 on a declaration calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict between India and Pakistan on Wednesday. (AP)

The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday appealed to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to crack down on all extremist groups operating from his territory. "If no urgent measures are taken to ease tensions, the situation may get out of control," said the spokesman. (AP)