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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Missing Cameraman

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- A Belarusian court on Thursday sentenced a former police officer to life in prison for several crimes including kidnapping a cameraman for ORT television, one of several well-known people to disappear in Belarus in recent years.

Dmitry Zavadsky went missing on July 7, 2000, in Minsk. He is feared dead, though his body has never been found, and the trial that wrapped up in the Minsk regional court Thursday shed no light on what happened to him.

Government prosecutors said Zavadsky was kidnapped by a group led by a former officer of the elite Almaz police force, Valery Ignatovich, who was angered by his television reports.

Chechen Investigation

MOSCOW (AP) -- A group of investigators traveled Thursday to a Chechen village to investigate residents' claims that troops had killed civilians during a recent search for rebels.

The investigators included officials from the Kremlin-appointed Chechen administration, the Federal Security Service, the military commandant's office and military prosecutors, according to the Interfax-Military News Agency.

They were sent to Starye Atagi a day after hundreds of residents of the village staged a protest in Grozny, displaying the burned corpses of seven people they said were civilians killed in a military sweep last week.

Officials from the FSB denied the bodies were those of civilians, saying they were rebels killed in battle.

Ukraine Arms Trade

KIEV (AP) -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma strongly denied accusations Thursday that his country had illegally supplied arms to Iraq.

"Ukraine didn't supply Iraq with any weapons," Kuchma told journalists.

Kuchma's comments came a day after lawmaker Oleksandr Zhyr told the Ukrainska Pravda Internet newsletter that he had evidence of Kuchma's alleged involvement in a $100 million arms trade deal with Iraqi representatives.

Zhyr said he had a recorded conversation between Kuchma and Valeriy Malev, head of the Ukrspetsexport state arms export company, backing up his accusations, according to the newsletter.

Malev was killed in a car accident last week, Zhyr said.

Floating Nuclear Plants

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia's plan to build a floating nuclear power plant in the White Sea is dangerous and too risky, leading environmentalists said Thursday, calling on neighboring countries to raise strong objections.

The Nuclear Power Ministry has said the first-of-its-kind plant would be set afloat in the White Sea and used to provide energy to the Arkhangelsk region in the Far North. Previous plans also called for a floating nuclear plant in the Chukotka region and off the Kamchatka peninsula in the Far East.

"It would be unforgivable to proceed with these plans," said Alexei Yablokov, head of the Russian Center for Ecological Politics, that floating nuclear plants are "a menace to the world's oceans."

Soviet Graffiti Debate

BERLIN (Reuters) -- German lawmakers debated on Thursday whether to remove rude graffiti daubed by advancing Soviet soldiers in 1945 from the Reichstag's walls and left in place as a war memorial.

As well as obscene sexual references to Adolf Hitler, the graffiti features the triumphant messages: "You got your just desserts, you sons of dogs" and "It's you who ended up in the manure, you fascists, not Russia!"

Now a group of top conservative politicians wants the graffiti removed, arguing they are a burden on German-Russian relations.

However, Gernot Erler of the ruling Social Democrats said the conservative motion was "small-minded and provincial" and that the graffiti would stay.

Kyrgyz Troop Deals

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (Reuters) -- Kyrgyzstan signed deals with seven U.S. allies in the war on terrorism on Thursday, paving the way for further deployment of coalition troops in the country.

The upper house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve agreements with France, Canada, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Italy and Australia envisaging deployments at the country's main civilian airport, Manas, for one year.

More than 1,500 coalition troops are already based at Manas.