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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Czech Extradition

MOSCOW (MT) -- Two Russian criminal suspects extradited by the Czech Republic -- Yury Biryuchenko and Viktor Kudryashov -- were flown from Prague to Moscow and from Moscow to St. Petersburg on Monday, news agencies reported.

Vremya Novostei newspaper reported last week, citing unnamed sources in the secret services, that the suspects are linked to the 1998 murder of State Duma Deputy Galina Starovoitova.

But Vadim Reznikov, the head of the St. Petersburg police department that took charge of the suspects upon their arrival in the northern capital, said the two have nothing to do with Starovoitova's murder, Interfax reported.

The suspects are charged with several contract murders, he said, but refused to elaborate.

Nuclear Plant Denial

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Krasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Plant on Monday denied State Duma Deputy Sergei Mitrokhin's claims that he, together with Greenpeace activists and NTV cameramen, managed to sneak into the high-security facility where spent nuclear fuel imported from Bulgaria is stored.

"It is a provocation," the plant's spokesman, Pavel Morozov, said in a telephone interview Monday. "Mitrokhin entered the outer unguarded perimeter of the plant but did not approach the guarded storage facility -- we established that after investigation of tracks in the snow around the building."

Mitrokhin -- who filmed his Krasnoyarsk raid and presented it to the public in a bid to expose the poor security systems at the country's nuclear facilities -- said Friday he could have entered the storage building where 3,000 tons of the radioactive materials are kept.

"I climbed onto the unfinished building standing next to the depository and I could have jumped onto its roof where the hatch leading inside was visible some 40 meters from me," Mitrokhin said in a telephone interview. "There were several guards underneath, but they wouldn't have been able to stop anyone from entering the depository from above."

Arms Cut Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- U.S. and Russian officials on Monday began two days of talks focusing on proposed strategic arms cuts that are expected to be the centerpiece of a presidential summit in May.

The U.S. contingent at the talks was led by Undersecretary of State John Bolton and the Russian side by Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov. Neither side gave details of the talks, which were aimed at preparing for U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Russia in May.

In November, Bush and President Vladimir Putin pledged deep reductions in nuclear arsenals, but the two sides are still at odds over whether cuts in offensive weapons will be put in a formal accord.

Iran's Kharrazi Visits

MOSCOW (AP) -- The fight against international terrorism and the insecure conditions in Afghanistan are expected to be the focus of this week's visit by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

Kharrazi was to arrive Monday evening for two days of meetings with officials, including his Kremlin counterpart, Igor Ivanov.

Russia has close relations with Iran and has attracted Western criticism for its many gestures of support.

Film Director Dies

MOSCOW (AP) -- Lev Kulidzhanov, a film director whose career stretched from the Khrushchev era to the Soviet collapse, died Monday of a stroke, the Cinematographers' Union said. He was 77.

Kulidzhanov's early films, including "The House I Live In" and "When the Trees Were Tall," portrayed the lives of simple people. He also undertook psychological complexities, with his 1970 version of Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment" regarded as a career high point.

Kulidzhanov also directed documentaries, including "The Star Minute," a film about space exploration. His last movie was "Forget-me-nots" in 1994.

Kulidzhanov was hospitalized a week ago after suffering a stroke, the Cinematographers' Union said. He died following a second stroke.

Kulidzhanov is survived by his wife and two sons. His funeral is scheduled to take place Wednesday at Novokuntsevskoye Cemetery.

Solo Atlantic Trip

MOSCOW (AP) -- Renowned Russian solo sailor Fyodor Konyukhov said Monday that he plans to row alone in a boat made of cedar across the Atlantic following Christopher Columbus' historic route to the New World.

Konyukhov said he plans to start his journey from the Canary Islands on Oct. 12, the day Americans celebrate Columbus' discovery of the New World, and finish 100 to 120 days later in Barbados, traveling some 4,860 kilometers.