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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechnya Conference

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Kremlin's human rights envoy for Chechnya urged Russian rights activists Tuesday to cancel a planned conference on peace in the war-ravaged region, saying that holding it would amount to giving in to the demands of terrorists.

Abdul-Khakim Sultygov's statement came a day after a group of veteran human rights activists including Sergei Kovalyov, Oleg Orlov and Lev Ponomaryov called for negotiations to end the fighting in Chechnya and announced an international conference in Moscow this weekend on peace in the region.

Sultygov said the planned conference "purposefully or not is directed toward forming an image of international terrorism with a human face." He said the aim of the planned conference -- peace in Chechnya -- "in essence repeats the demands of the terrorists."

Ukraine's Iraq Charges

KIEV (Reuters) -- U.S. and British experts have criticized Ukraine for failing to provide conclusive proof it did not sell an a Kolchuga early warning system to Iraq in breach of UN sanctions, Ukrainian officials said Tuesday.

A spokesman for Ukraine's parliamentary speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, said he had seen a report investigating the U.S. charges that concluded the country had not proved its innocence.

The report was quickly criticized as "impertinent" by one deputy.

Washington sent a group of 13 experts to check whether the Kolchuga was in Iraq. The report was handed over to officials earlier Tuesday.

"The main idea in this report is that Ukraine did not present convincing evidence to prove that the country had not sold a Kolchuga to Iraq," the spokesman said after Lytvyn met Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko and British Ambassador Robert Brinkley.

Swiss Air Crash Claim

MOSCOW (MT) -- German lawyers acting for Bashkirian Airlines are seeking at least 20 million Swiss francs ($13.7 million) from the Swiss government in compensation for an air crash over Germany on July 1, media reports say.

Seventy-one people, most of them children, died after a Bashkirian Airlines Tu-154 passenger jet and a DHL Boeing 757 cargo plane collided in midair.

Seconds before the crash, an air traffic controller working for Swiss-controlled Skyguide contradicted instructions from a traffic alert and collision avoidance system and told the Bashkirian pilot to descend.

The lawyers have already claimed compensation from Skyguide, which is waiting for a German air traffic investigators' report on the cause of the crash, a Skyguide spokesman said.

Belarus Detention

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- The leader of a Belarussian opposition group was detained Tuesday upon leaving the U.S. Embassy and the country's KGB later said he could be charged with seeking to overthrow the government.

Anatoly Lebedko was detained as he left the embassy and taken to a KGB office, where he was presented with a protocol warning him of the possibility of facing the charges.

"It was a forceful seizure. Four men fell on me; they refused to identify themselves and forcefully shoved me into a car," Lebedko told a news conference several hours after he was detained.

U.S. Embassy officials appeared at the news conference with Lebedko but did not make statements.

The KGB distributed a statement saying that an investigation had turned up material about "Lebedko's confidential contacts with foreign citizens having the position of spies or a basis for suspecting them of working with foreign special services … [which] bear witness to possible attempts to involve Lebedko in anti-government activity."

Lebedko called the allegation "a return to the absurdity of Stalinism."

Berezovsky Extradition

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia has officially asked Britain to extradite Boris Berezovsky, the Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday.

Interfax quoted Leonid Troshin, a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, as saying the request had been lodged by the Foreign Ministry.

Russian prosecutors opened a criminal case against Berezovsky and his associate Badri Patarkatsishvili in September on charges of stealing cars worth $13 million from AvtoVaz.

Gelayev Demanded

MOSCOW (AP) -- The secretary of the Security Council, Vladimir Rushailo, demanded Tuesday that Georgia capture and extradite Ruslan Gelayev, a Chechen rebel band leader believed to be in Georgian territory.

"We want to see assistance and practical steps from Georgia to help detain and extradite international terrorist Ruslan Gelayev," Rushailo said.

He said Moscow continued to insist on the extradition of eight suspected Chechen rebels detained in August.

His Georgian counterpart, Tedo Dzhaparidze, told reporters that Georgian authorities had closed down an unofficial Chechen information office in an apartment in Tbilisi, which Moscow alleged was a front for the rebels.

As for Russia's demand for extraditions, Dzhaparidze said the issue was "quite a complicated matter" and was under discussion.

Lost Adventurer?

MOSCOW (AP) -- A Russian adventurer who set out last month to cross the Atlantic Ocean alone in a rowboat has not made contact with colleagues on land for four days, his son said Tuesday.

"We are worried," said Fyodor Konyukhov's son Oskar.

He said his father was about 1,760 kilometers southwest of his starting point in the Canary Islands when he last called on his satellite phone Friday.

Konyukhov, 51, set out on Oct. 16 in a white cedar-and-fiberglass rowboat, hoping to retrace Columbus' route across the Atlantic. He was expecting to land 5,200 kilometers away in Barbados in January.