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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ambassador to Run

MINSK, Belarus (Reuters) -- The Belarussian ambassador to Japan, accused of trying to defect to the West, was quoted Tuesday as saying he would run against President Alexander Lukashenko in the next election.

As the Foreign Ministry said it had yet to secure the ambassador's promise to return on a specific date, Pyotr Kravchenko again denied he wanted to seek asylum abroad and instead said would run for president in 2006.

"I do not rule out that I will put forward my candidacy for president in the next election," Itar-Tass quoted him as saying in Tokyo.

Air Crash Investigation

KIEV (AP) -- Ukrainian prosecutors investigating the downing of a Sibir Airlines passenger jet by a Ukrainian missile said Tuesday they need to retrieve the Tu-154's wreckage to complete their inquiry and start hearings.

"We need to study all the evidence because lawyers will need to build their case to defend the people involved in court," Deputy Chief Prosecutor Oleksandr Atamaniuk said.

The plane's wreckage, now some 2,000 meters underwater in the Black Sea, could help determine how the S-200 missile struck the plane, killing all 78 people aboard Oct. 4, 2001.

The recovery operation will be difficult because the seafloor is topped by some 6 meters of mud, Atamaniuk said.

Sedative Smuggling

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- Swedish customs officials have reported a dramatic increase in smuggling of the powerful sedative Rohypnol from Russia, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Swedish customs has seized about 460,000 pills of the drug this year, compared with 25,000 pills in 2001, spokesman Peter Kroejs said.

Rohypnol is prescribed for severe insomnia and is manufactured by Roche, a Swiss-based company. Kroejs said the sleeping pill has become a popular party drug and is used by drug addicts to boost the effect of other drugs.

"It's exported from Switzerland to Russia for legitimate consumption, and then the Rohypnol is leaked somewhere in Russia and is smuggled to Lithuania and from there it is smuggled to Sweden and Norway," he said.