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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Anti-Catholic Rallies

MOSCOW (AP) -- About 1,500 demonstrators crowded Slavyanskaya Ploshchad and rallies took place in a number of other cities Sunday to protest Roman Catholicism's rising profile in the country.

The rallies underlined rising tensions over the dominant Russian Orthodox Church's contention that the Vatican is poaching on its traditional territory.

On Slavyanskaya Ploshchad, protesters held posters reading "Vatican Out" and "Arise for Faith, Russian Land." The rally was organized by the Union of Orthodox Citizens and the People's Party of Russia.

Similar rallies took place in 25 other cities, Interfax reported.

6-Year-Old Hostage

MOSCOW (AP) -- Nizhny Novgorod police on Saturday stormed a taxi in which a man who had taken a 6-year-old boy hostage was trying to escape, killing him with pistol shots through the window.

The boy was wounded in the incident, apparently by a knife the hostage-taker was wielding. He was in intensive care Saturday night, said police spokesman Alexander Belov.

The dead man was identified as Turkan Khalbabayev, 48, a citizen of Tajikistan. News reports said he was visiting relatives, with whom he began to argue, and seized the child, who is the son of Khalbabayev's brother. He demanded a 50,000 ruble ($1,600) ransom for the boy and also a taxi.

Television showed the man entering the taxi with the partly naked child. The taxi then developed mechanical trouble and police rushed to the cab, firing through the windows.

Pre-Summit Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and spoke by telephone with Secretary of State Colin Powell as part of preparations for next month's presidential summit, the Foreign Ministry said.

During Friday's meeting with Armitage, the two sides confirmed their commitment to cooperation in fighting terrorism, the ministry said.

Also Friday, Ivanov and Powell discussed summit preparations, including continuing negotiations on nuclear weapons cuts.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visits Moscow on Monday.

FSB Says Spy Nabbed

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- The Federal Security Service said Saturday it had caught a spy and a court had convicted him of collecting secret information about Sukhoi fighter jets for a foreign government.

FSB officials in the Far East identified the man as Alexei Vetrov, a resident of Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where Sukhoi fighters are produced.

Vetrov was arrested on April 28, 2001, and convicted of espionage in a closed trial in Khabarovsk on March 29, the FSB said in a statement.

Vetrov had worked on behalf of an unidentified foreign country since 2000, according to the statement. An FSB spokesman said the spy had been working for an Asia-Pacific entity.

Vetrov, a former military pilot, was sentenced to four years in a maximum-security prison and confiscation of property, the FSB said. Treason usually carries a minimum sentence of 12 years, but the court slashed the term because Vetrov pleaded guilty, aided the investigation and did not inflict harm to the state, the FSB said.

Missile Misfires

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Russian cruise missile misfired during exercises and hit Kazakhstan, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Friday.

Ivanov said the rocket, identified by news agencies as an X-22 air-to-surface missile, misfired during a test Wednesday at Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea near the southern border with Kazakhstan. "It fell on the territory of Kazakhstan," Ivanov said, adding that there was no damage and no casualties.

Quake Shakes Tbilisi

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Tbilisi residents swept rubble-strewn streets and floors covered in fallen plaster Friday after a strong earthquake that killed at least four people.

Dozens of people remained hospitalized with injuries and heart trouble prompted by the Thursday night earthquake, emergency officials said.

The Georgian seismological station in Tbilisi said the quake had a magnitude of 5 or 6. The U.S. Geological Survey said the tremor had a magnitude of 4.8, and that its epicenter was 10 kilometers northwest of Tbilisi. Mayor Vano Lodelava said 150 buildings were damaged beyond repair and 400 were badly damaged.

Criminal Bills Passed

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The State Duma passed in a third and final reading Friday amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code that impose new rules on police for holding criminal suspects.

Among other things, the amendments require police to seek court approval from July 1 if they want to hold a suspect without charge for longer than 48 hours.

The legislation must still be approved by the Federation Council and President Vladimir Putin.

Kursk Moved

MOSCOW (AP) -- The carcass of the Kursk nuclear submarine has been delivered to a ship repair plant for dismantling, Interfax reported Saturday.

Ten barges hauled the Kursk to the Nerpa ship repair plant in Snezhnogorsk, where workers will remove the submarine's two nuclear reactors and its cruise missiles and scrap what is left of the damaged hull.

'Yoga Lady' Dead

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) -- Russian-born Indra Devi, known to followers as the "First Lady of Yoga" who taught Hollywood how to stretch its limbs in the 1940s, died at 102 on Thursday in Argentina, her home for the past 17 years.

Born in Riga in 1899, Devi went to India in 1927 drawn by its spirituality and 10 years later was admitted to an ashram to study a discipline previously almost closed to women.

She opened the first U.S. yoga studio in California in 1947. Her popular books "Forever Young" and "Forever Healthy" are credited with helping spread "hatha" yoga.

For the Record

Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived Sunday for talks with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Monday on resolving the situation in Iraq and development of bilateral relations. (AP)

A court has released with a warning the 23 activists who protested against nuclear-waste imports on Red Square, protest organizer Ecodefense said Friday. (MT)