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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

School Poisoning

MOSCOW (AP) -- An eighth-grade student in a western Siberian city tricked more than 20 younger pupils into drinking a "magic potion" laced with copper vitriol, sending them to the hospital with acute poisoning, police said Wednesday.

The student stole the compound Tuesday from a chemistry laboratory that a teacher had left unlocked, said a police duty officer in Novosibirsk. He fed it to 22 fourth-graders, aged 10 and 11.

The water soluble sulfate mineral, which is blue in color, is often used in schools to teach children how crystals form. A poison, it has also been used to clear ponds and waterways of plant growth.

Nikolai Manankin, a doctor at the hospital where the victims were being treated, told ORT television that six children had been transferred from intensive care to an ordinary ward on Wednesday. Eighteen others were in satisfactory condition, he said.

Berlusconi on NATO

ROME (AP) -- NATO and Russia will sign an accord boosting relations between the Western military alliance and Moscow on May 28 in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

Last week, Berlusconi said the new relationship would be formalized at a summit in late May, but no date had been announced.

"With this act, the Cold War is really finished because the Russian Federation is getting married to the West," Berlusconi told reporters.

NATO and Russia agreed Tuesday on the mechanism for a new joint council in which Moscow will sit as an equal partner with its Cold War-era foes, and now only loose ends remain to be tied up, said an alliance official who asked not to be named.

FBI Experts Leave Kiev

KIEV (AP) -- A team of FBI homicide experts left Ukraine after being denied access to crucial information in the investigation of slain opposition journalist Georgy Gongadze, U.S. Embassy officials said Wednesday.

The Ukrainian government had requested the homicide experts' assistance in investigating the unsolved death of Gongadze, who went missing in September 2000.

FBI forensic experts visited Ukraine twice previously and confirmed that a beheaded body found in a forest near Kiev was that of Gongadze. The latest team of four FBI experts arrived April 8 and left Monday, the U.S. Embassy said.

Despite the government's invitation, Ukrainian investigators told the FBI experts that according to Ukrainian law they were "unable to discuss any aspects of the case, share evidence or conduct a joint site inspection," the embassy said in a statement.

Grenade Suicide

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia (AP) -- An accused kidnapper who had held hostages at a police station in southern Russia for more than five hours was killed when a grenade exploded in his hands, police said Wednesday.

Alan Buzarov was detained Tuesday in North Ossetia. After being taken to a police station, he pulled two grenades out of his pocket and said he was taking all the people present in the station hostage, said Alan Doyev, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry's branch in North Ossetia.

After about five hours of negotiations including with some of his relatives, Buzarov, 35, agreed to free the hostages. However, he refused to give up the grenades, one of which exploded and killed him.

Moldova Communists

CHISINAU, Moldova (Reuters) -- The popularity of Moldova's ruling Communist Party is rising despite a four-month nationalist-led campaign of anti-government street protests, a leading independent polling institute said Tuesday.

Moldova, by some measures Europe's poorest country, is facing round-the-clock rallies against the Communists over their plans to deepen the country's ties with Russia.

But the survey conducted by IMAS, a respected independent polling organization with headquarters in neighboring Romania, showed the Communists are becoming more popular.

The pollsters said they were surprised at the result, which indicated that the Communists enjoy support of 73 percent of the country.

Middle East Message

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- An envoy from Russia, current chair of the UN Security Council, said Wednesday the United Nations might have to resort to "more drastic measures" to force Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories.

Oleg Ozerov, deputy chief of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East division, made the comments in an address to a United Nations meeting in support of peace in the region.

"If the situation does not change, and the Israeli [military] operation is not halted, one cannot be certain that we shall not consider the eventuality of more drastic measures to overcome the confrontation and resume the movement toward peace," Ozerov said.

He did not elaborate on what measures could be used.

Georgia War of Words

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia ratcheted up its war of words with the breakaway republic of Abkhazia, accusing Abkhazian separatists of preparing for a military invasion of the disputed Kodor Gorge.

Georgian Security Council member Tamaz Nadareyishvili said Tuesday that Georgia had intelligence information that Abkhazia was preparing to invade the gorge between April 20 and April 25.

Abkhazia has accused Georgia of keeping troops in the gorge, in violation of a United Nations-brokered protocol that called for them to withdraw.

Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze denied that, saying Georgia had only 200 border guards and some nonmilitary reservists stationed there.