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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Oslo to Press Putin



OSLO, Norway (Reuters) -- Norway will urge President Vladimir Putin to hold peace talks with Chechen rebels when he visits Oslo on Tuesday, Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik said Monday.

"We think that a solution to the Chechen conflict should not be achieved with violence and warring but through a political dialogue that involves all parties," Bondevik told NRK radio.

Putin has refused to negotiate with Chechen rebels.

"We will urge a political dialogue within the framework of the Russian Federation," Bondevik said. "We are also concerned about human rights [in Chechnya]. … We get reports of serious episodes."

Putin was due to arrive late Monday night from a European Union summit in Brussels.

Putin will meet Bondevik and German Chancellor Gerhard Schr?der, who is also visiting Norway, on Tuesday.




Derailed Train Kills 4



ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- A commuter train derailed in a station in St. Petersburg on Monday, killing four people who were standing on a platform and injuring six more.

The electric train, which was not carrying any passengers, was being tested following capital repairs. The brakes failed as the train approached Baltiisky Station, and the first two cars jumped the rails and slammed onto the platform, according to emergency officials.

St. Petersburg prosecutors opened an investigation into the accident. Officials said one theory being considered was that the train started moving on its own when the driver left for a few minutes.

The station, a hub for commuter trains to St. Petersburg's suburbs, was closed to train traffic for most of the day.




Diplomats Expelled



STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Two Russian diplomats have been expelled from Sweden in connection with an espionage case involving wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson, the Swedish Foreign Ministry said Monday.

The announcement was made after the Russian ambassador was summoned to the ministry Monday morning. "We have today asked the Russian ambassador to come to the ministry, and two of the embassy's employees have been declared persona non grata and they have left the country," ministry spokeswoman Kristina Ostergren said. "It has a connection to the Ericsson case."

Ostergren said the two expelled were employees at the Russian Embassy in Stockholm and had diplomatic status, but she declined to give more details.

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the decision and threatened to retaliate.




Budanov Trial Delay



ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- The drawn-out trial of Colonel Yury Budanov, who is charged with murdering a Chechen woman, cannot resume as planned next week because the Health Ministry has ordered the results of a psychiatric evaluation withdrawn, the defendant's lawyer said.

Budanov's lawyer, Anatoly Mukhin, said the military court for the district that includes Chechnya conveyed the Health Ministry's demand that he return a document outlining the results of the fourth psychiatric examination Budanov has undergone during his trial, which began in February 2001.

"This is the latest artificial delay of our case," Mukhin said Sunday.

Budanov admits to strangling Elza Kungayeva in 2000, but says he killed her in a rage because he thought she was a rebel sniper.

A court hearing had been scheduled for Nov. 19, but Mukhin said it was unclear when it would be held.

He said he had not received a clear explanation of the order from the military prosecutor's office or the Health Ministry.

"It's possible it was the result of a direction from above, it's possible the experts simply became afraid of what they themselves wrote" in the psychiatric evaluation, he said.




Tbilisi on Extradition



TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said Monday that his government must await a recommendation from the European Court of Human Rights before deciding whether it could extradite a group of suspected Chechen rebels to Russia.

At a meeting of heads of former Soviet republics last month, Shevardnadze pledged he would no longer hold up the extradition of eight ethnic Chechens who were detained on the Russian-Georgian border in August and are wanted in Russia.

Also Monday, Georgian prosecutors said two of the eight men are Georgian citizens and cannot be handed to Russia. Paata Mskhiladze of the chief prosecutor's office said the two were accompanying the others as guides.




Newton Book Stolen



ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) -- Thieves have stolen Isaac Newton's "apple" from a St. Petersburg museum -- the celebrated book in which the 17th-century English physicist formulated his eponymous law on gravity that revolutionized science.

Posing as readers, the thieves stole a rare first edition of Newton's "Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica" from the Russian National Library, a library official said Sunday. "The loss was discovered straight away when the reading room was closing on Nov. 6 and it had not been returned by the readers who had requested it," the official said.

In "Principia," Newton formulates the three laws of motion and the law of universal gravitation. Legend has it that Newton was reading under an apple tree when he was struck on the head by a falling fruit, an innocuous event that provided the inspiration for his theories on gravity.




For the Record



Ukraine's parliament chief plans to hold a vote this week on a nominee for a new prime minister after weeks of political infighting and a call by the president for the government's resignation, news reports said Monday. Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn said lawmakers will decide by Friday whom to propose to President Leonid Kuchma to replace Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh and head a pro-Kuchma coalition government. (AP)

A man who authorities described as mentally ill was detained after making threats against former President Boris Yeltsin in a telephone call to police, Itar-Tass reported. The 48-year-old Muscovite called police Saturday night and made threats against Yeltsin, Moscow police told Itar-Tass on Sunday. Police traced the call and detained the man, they said. (AP)