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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

OSCE Warned

MOSCOW (AP) -- Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov on Monday warned the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe against making any attempts to mediate an end to the war in Chechnya.

Chizhov said the new mandate of the OSCE's assistance group to Chechnya should reflect Moscow's view that any attempts at political mediation in Chechnya were "unnecessary," Interfax and Itar-Tass reported. The assistance group's mandate expires this year.

The OSCE played a key role in brokering a 1996 truce that ended the first, 20-month war in Chechnya.

Car Explodes, 3 Die

MOSCOW (AP) -- A car exploded Monday near a settlement housing military personnel outside Moscow, an air force official said. News reports said three people were killed.

The Mercedes car exploded near the village of Zarya, in the Balashikha district about 45 kilometers east of Moscow, which houses top air force officers, said Alexander Drobyshevsky, an air force spokesman.

The dead were not military officials, Drobyshevsky said. Interfax, quoting a law enforcement source, identified the dead as a Russian businessman, who heads a meat trading firm, his driver and bodyguard.

Interfax said the explosion was caused by a land mine, which was camouflaged as a speed bump, and occurred on a highway regularly used by air force staff.

Deserter Detained

MOSCOW (AP) -- Police detained a servicemen who fled his unit in Moscow with a gun and ammunition three weeks ago, sparking a massive manhunt, a police spokesman said Monday.

Police found Maxim Karzakov, 19, in an empty house in the town of Pushkino near Moscow on Saturday, said Interior Ministry spokesman Vasily Panchenkov. He was unarmed and surrendered without a fight, Panchenkov said.

Karzakov fled his Interior Ministry unit base on Nov. 11 armed with an automatic rifle and ammunition. Police mounted a search in and around a nearby park, called Losiny Ostrov, or Moose Island, where they found an assault rifle, ammunition, and body armor several days later.

Karzakov has been delivered to his unit and an investigation is underway, Panchenkov said.

Kuchma Satisfied

KIEV (AP) -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said Monday that he was "satisfied" with the results of last month's NATO summit, which he attended despite the alliance's request that he stay away amid allegations that he approved the sale of a radar system to Iraq.

"We achieved the main goal, an action plan between Ukraine and NATO was signed," Kuchma told reporters after meeting Slovak President Rudolf Schuster. "It's a new stage in our relations."

At the summit, NATO and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko signed an action plan to put Ukraine on track for membership.

Tokhtakhounov Case

VENICE, Italy (AP) -- An extradition hearing for Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov, a reputed Russian mobster accused of fixing figure-skating results at the Olympics, will be held early next week, the suspect's lawyer said Monday.

Tokhtakhounov, 52, has been held in a Venice prison since July on U.S. charges that he helped secure a gold medal for Russia in the pairs competition at Salt Lake City in exchange for a victory for the French ice dancing team. Tokhtakhounov denies the charges.

The Dec. 10 hearing at the Venice appeals court will likely last one morning, said lawyer Luca Saldarelli.

Medicine Controls

MOSCOW (MT) -- In an attempt to exert control over the pharmaceutical market, the Health Ministry is introducing new rules designed to toughen the system for certifying drugs, ministry officials said.

As of Dec. 15, some 200 laboratories across the country will inspect the quality of imported medicines as they arrive in the country and domestic medicines as they are manufactured, Deputy Health Minister Anton Katlinsky said Friday. The ministry's pharmaceutical inspection unit will also administer selective tests on already certified drugs.

Under the existing rules, the quality and authenticity of medicines hitting the local market is hardly ever checked, Katlinsky told Interfax.

He also said he does not expect drug prices to rise more than 1.5 percent with the new regulations.

Industry experts predict counterfeit medicines will account for 12 percent to 13 percent of the Russian pharmaceutical market this year, up from 7 percent to 8 percent last year.

Titov Hearing Delay

MOSCOW (MT) -- A Cheryomushkinsky district court on Monday postponed a hearing into the case of Media-MOST financial manager Anton Titov until Friday, Interfax reported.

Titov has been behind bars since January 2001 on charges of assisting his boss Vladimir Gusinsky in large-scale fraud, money laundering and forgery.

Last Friday, prosecutors asked the court to find Titov guilty on all counts and to give him a suspended sentence of five years and four months.

Titov's lawyers were scheduled to speak Monday, but the hearings were postponed due to the sickness of one of the lay assessors.

Georgia Extradition

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on Monday reaffirmed his pledge to extradite three suspected Chechen rebels to Russia, while the detainees appealed the expulsion order in court.

"We will honestly fulfill our commitments to Russia" to extradite the Chechens, Shevardnadze said at a news conference, adding that some "formalities" needed to be sorted out before the extradition.

Meanwhile, lawyers for the three detainees on Monday appealed to the Tbilisi City Court to overturn an extradition order by Georgian prosecutors, said Paata Mskhiladze, head of the international department of the Prosecutor General's Office.

Cold Kills 26

MOSCOW (AP) -- At least 26 people have frozen to death in Moscow over the past week as a cold snap continues to bring bitter temperatures to the capital, medical officials said Monday.

Hospitals have taken in 157 people suffering from hypothermia since last Monday, said Lyubov Zhomova, a spokeswoman for the city's medical directorate.