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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Australian Dead

MOSCOW (MT) -- An Australian citizen was found dead in a room at the Sheremetyevo-2 hotel Monday morning, Interfax reported.

Peter Khagis, 55, was found with his hands bound and a gag in his mouth at 5:20 a.m, Interfax said. The agency said he was an antique dealer.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation Online web site said Khagis' money and credit cards were still in his wallet and that he had entered Russia on Sept. 25.

Interfax said police have opened an investigation.

The police were unavailable for comment Monday, and the Australian Embassy was closed for a national holiday.

A spokesman for the Australian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Asylum in Norway

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) -- Kazakhstan has turned down a demand from Turkmenistan to deport a former political prisoner and allowed UN officials to fly him to Norway instead, UN officials said Monday.

Gulgeldi Annaniazov, 42, was sentenced in 1995 to 15 years in prison for helping organize a pro-democracy demonstration in Turkmenistan. In 1999, he was freed under intensive international pressure.

Last month, Annaniazov was detained in Moscow after arriving from Kazakhstan. He requested political asylum but was deported the following day to Kazakhstan, ostensibly because he was not traveling on his own passport. Kazakh officials initially planned to deport him to Turkmenistan but were stopped by a wave of protests from human rights activists who said that Annaniazov was tortured during his interrogation and warned he could again face torture if sent back home.

On Friday, officials from the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Migration Organization acting on agreement with the Kazakh government put Annaniazov on a flight to Norway, said Yusaku Hanyu, the chief of the UNHCR office in Kazakhstan. The special flight was arranged by Norwegian officials, who provided political asylum to Annaniazov, said Aued Sebaa, an official with the UNHCR.

6 Freeze to Death

MOSCOW (MT) -- Six people froze to death in Moscow over the weekend, Interfax reported Monday.

Twenty-nine other people were hospitalized because of the cold weather, Interfax said, citing emergency officials.

Since the start of October, 11 people have died due to the cold.

Tunnel Uncovered

MOSCOW (MT) -- Workers have cleared away the entrance to one of three tunnels covered by ice, debris and mud in an avalanche in North Ossetia last month but found no bodies, RIA-Novosti reported Monday.

Witnesses earlier told rescue workers that vehicles transporting movie star Sergei Bodrov Jr. and his film crew may have been trapped in one of the highway tunnels.

More than 130 people remain missing after the Sept. 20 avalanche.

Only 17 bodies have been recovered to date.

Russia May Quit Pact

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia may suspend its participation in an international convention banning chemical weapons if Moscow's request to extend the deadline for destroying its chemical arsenals is rejected by the convention's signatories, the Interfax-Military News Agency reported Monday.

"If the conference does not meet our request, Russia will have to suspend its membership in the convention," said Nikolai Bezborodov, a senior lawmaker who serves as a deputy chief of the government commission in charge of chemical weapons destruction.

Bezborodov spoke to the Interfax-Military News Agency in the Hague while attending a conference of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, a regulatory body established in 1997 by 145 countries to oversee the Chemical Weapons Convention, which aims to rid the world of chemical weapons.

Russia has some 40,000 tons of chemical weapons -- the world's largest arsenal. Moscow pledged to destroy them within a decade when it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, but officials later complained that Russia could not afford the estimated $7 billion program, despite pledges of aid from the United States, Europe and Canada.

Last year, Russian officials approved a new, cheaper program that would destroy the country's arsenal by 2012 without having to seek international funding beyond what has already been pledged.

Bezborodov said Russia was doing all it could to destroy its chemical weapons but would not be able to complete the job by 2007 and asked to put off the deadline until 2012.

Clash Seen in Metro

MOSCOW (MT) -- About 200 skinheads clashed in the Prospekt Mira metro station Sunday night, reported.

Moscow police could not confirm the report Monday. said scuffling broke out in a station transit underpass at 7:30 p.m., citing one of its journalists, who witnessed the incident. The reporter said he saw blood on the floor but did not see anybody with injuries.

A police spokesman told that a group of 20 to 25 young people were spotted hanging around the station Sunday night but they were not involved in any clashes.

U.S. General Arrives

MOSCOW (MT) -- The commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe, General Montgomery Meigs, was to arrive Monday for talks on military cooperation and anti-terrorism, Interfax reported.

During his visit, Meigs was to go to a Moscow military academy and deliver a lecture on the American armed forces' role in the U.S.-led fight on terrorism, Interfax quoted a source in the Defense Ministry as saying.

600 Shells Found

KIEV (AP) -- Some 632 World War II-era artillery shells have been unearthed near a village in southeastern Ukraine, officials said Monday.

Sappers continued working to dig up and disarm the shells, which were found by villagers on Sept. 30 in Loshkaryvkyi, about 550 kilometers from Kiev, the Emergency Situations Ministry said in a statement.

Some 255 shells have been found in the past 24 hours.

Ukraine was the site of heavy fighting between German and Soviet forces during World War II, and thousands of old munitions are discovered throughout the country each year.