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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Lithuania Runoff

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- President Valdas Adamkus, who guided Lithuania to the verge of membership in the European Union and NATO, is counting on his popularity to capture a second term next month after an unexpectedly strong challenge from his main rival.

Adamkus failed to get an absolute majority in national elections Sunday, forcing him into a Jan. 5 runoff with former Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas.

Lithuania's Central Election Commission said Monday that final unofficial results gave Adamkus nearly 35.2 percent of the vote, a few more points than late pre-election polls had forecast. Paksas got nearly 19.8 percent, more than observers had expected.

Arrests Fall by a Third

MOSCOW (AP) -- The number of arrests has dropped by a third since the adoption of the Criminal Procedural Code that gave the power to issue warrants to judges instead of prosecutors, the head of the country's highest court said Monday.

Since the law took effect July 1, courts have received more than 85,000 requests for arrest warrants and approved 87 percent, Supreme Court Chairman Vyacheslav Lebedev was quoted by Interfax as saying.

From another 38,000 requests to prolong the terms of suspects in detention, 90 percent were honored, he said.

Grenade Kills 2

MOSCOW (AP) -- Two men were killed and a third was seriously injured in a grenade blast in the Sverdlovsk region, police said Monday.

The three had gathered Sunday for a night of drinking in a garage in the town of Zarechny, the Sverdlovsk regional police's press department said. The garage owner was showing off the grenade when he accidentally detonated it, the press service said.

The explosion killed the two guests and blew a hand and part of a leg off the garage owner, the press service said. Police have opened a criminal case on charges of murder and illegal possession of weapons.

2 Reporters Beaten

MOSCOW (MT) -- Two journalists were beaten in the far eastern city of Khabarovsk in an attack they blamed on ultranationalists, Izvestia reported Monday.

Molodoi Dalnevostochnik editor Oleg Chuguyev and journalist Irina Polnikova, who is Chuguyev's wife, were attacked by two young men wielding pipes and clubs at the entryway to their apartment building in downtown Khabarovsk on Friday, the newspaper said.

Chuguyev suffered a fractured skull and remained in a hospital over the weekend after undergoing an operation. Polnikova escaped the attack with minor injuries.

The journalists suspect that the attack was provoked by their newspaper's recent publication of investigative articles about local ultranationalist groups, Izvestia said.

Fishing Director Shot

KIEV (AP) -- The director of a top Ukrainian fishing company was killed by an unidentified gunman, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

Valery Kravchenko, the 47-year-old director of the Arktika company, which owns 14 fishing trawlers along with the Black Sea port of Illichivsk, died of gunshot wounds to the stomach and head, Interior Ministry spokesman Henady Hrebnev said.

Kravchenko's body was found late Sunday in his garage in Odessa.

Officials have launched an investigation and no further details were immediately available, Hrebnev said. He refused to speculate on possible motives for the crime.

Kravchenko had headed Arktika, which employs more than 1,500 people, since 1993. Along with the trawler fleet, Arktika owns two cruise ships, the Taras Shevchenko and the Odessa, Interfax said.

Ukrainian parliament member Yury Karmazin said Kravchenko's killing could be linked to his expected appointment to the post of the head of the fisheries department of the Ukrainian government.

Budanov Trial

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- A court trying Colonel Yury Budanov rejected a motion Monday to throw out a psychological evaluation that found him temporarily insane at the time he killed a Chechen woman.

Lawyers for the family of Elza Kungayeva argued that the experts at Moscow's Serbsky Center for Forensic Psychiatry were under political pressure to make their findings about Budanov. But Judge Viktor Kostin said such claims were groundless.

The evaluation was the fourth performed on Budanov since the beginning of his trial in February 2001, and is widely expected to lead to acquittal or a light sentence.

The court had been expected to discuss whether to transfer Budanov from his regular prison cell to a special medical unit there in light of the psychologists' findings, but the issue did not come up. The court hearings on the psychological tests are being conducted without Budanov present, and the judge decided Monday to continue without him being there.

More Theater Suits

MOSCOW (AP) -- Fourteen more people filed lawsuits Monday against the Moscow city government for compensation in the theater hostage-taking, raising the total number of those seeking damages to 38, their lawyer said.

Igor Trunov said the plaintiffs include former hostages and relatives of those who died in the siege, Interfax reported. The new cases come a day ahead of scheduled hearing for the first 24 lawsuits, asking for amounts of compensation varying from $450,000 to $1.5 million.

18 Boys Escape

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- Eighteen inmates escaped from a labor colony for minors outside St. Petersburg in hopes of spending the New Year holiday at home, prison officials said Monday.

Thirteen of the boys who fled the Kolpino colony, located 25 kilometers southeast of St. Petersburg, on Sunday night were apprehended and five remained missing Monday, said Vladimir Kalinichenko, spokesman for St. Petersburg prisons.

"They did it rather simply -- just put a bed against the wall around the territory of the colony, threw mattresses on the ground and jumped over," Kalinichenko said.

Most of the runaways, ranging from 14 to 17 years of age, were at the earliest stage of imprisonment. Many are serving terms of four to six years, Kalinichenko said.

"They just said they wanted to go home for the New Year," he said.