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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Putin Writes to Kim

SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) Ч President Vladimir Putin has sent North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a letter, North KoreaТs official KCNA news agency reported Tuesday.

KCNA did not give any details of the letter, but it comes amid a flurry of visits and diplomatic exchanges involving North Korea, which is edging toward the negotiating table with the United States and South Korea.

KCNA said Kim had received Vladimir Yakovlev, governor of St. Petersburg, on Monday and hosted a dinner for a Russian delegation.

"[Yakovlev] courteously conveyed to leader Kim Jong Il a Е letter of Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin," the news agency reported.

Yakovlev is scheduled to visit Seoul later this week to meet South Korean officials.

Call to Heed UN

LUXEMBOURG (AP) Ч Russia and the European Union said Tuesday they endorse an international conference to restart Middle East peace talks but only if Israel and the Palestinians first implement UN resolutions calling for a withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and an end to Palestinian terrorism.

The conference should not distract countries from implementing United Nations resolutions passed since mid-March to halt the fighting, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said after talks with senior EU officials.

"The resolutions are there. They exist and should be immediately implemented in total," he told a news conference.

BabkinТs Wife Denied

MOSCOW (MT) Ч A Moscow city court on Tuesday upheld a district court ruling not to hear an appeal lodged by Galina Yashina, the wife of a Moscow professor charged with passing state secrets to U.S. businessman Edmond Pope, until her husbandТs case is decided.

Yashina asked the court to return half of the cash seized by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, during the espionage investigation into her husband, Anatoly Babkin.

The Meshchansky district court threw out her initial civil plea in March, saying Babkin first had to be tried to prove the money had been earned legally. Yashina asked for $5,300, saying she needs it for an eye operation.

Andrei Andrusenko, BabkinТs lawyer, said his client is now reading his case and his trial is tentatively scheduled to start in July.

"The court, together with the FSB, has sent a clear message to Babkin: Read your case fast or your wife will go blind," he said.

RTR Head Named

MOSCOW (MT) Ч Long-time state television official Anton Zlatopolsky was appointed general director of fully state-owned RTR television, Interfax reported Tuesday.

He replaced Alexander Akopov, who resigned in February.

The former executive director of TV6 television, Pavel Korchagin, became RTRТs chief producer, the stationТs press service said.

Korchagin and the TPG Aurora investment fund had placed a bid for the frequency formerly held by TV6 but lost the March 27 tender by one vote to Yevgeny KiselyovТs consortium.

RTR is part of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Company, or VGTRK, which is headed by Oleg Dobrodeyev.

Greenpeace Protests

MOSCOW (AP) Ч Greenpeace activists demonstrated outside the European UnionТs representative office in Moscow on Tuesday to protest the EUТs import of timber and wood products from wild forest regions.

Greenpeace said about 15 percent of Russian wood products exported to the EU come from wild forest areas. The group said many of these areas should be off limits, because the government plans to turn them into national parks and preserves by 2010.

Greenpeace also said 70 percent of the wood exported to EU countries is harvested during clear cutting of forests, which strips huge tracts of land of all trees.

Police arrested seven activists during the demonstration, said Greenpeace spokeswoman Yelena Surovikina.

Emergency Landing

MOSCOW (AP) Ч A Krasnoyarsk Airlines Tu-134 made an emergency landing in the western Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk on Tuesday because of unexplained decompression in the cockpit, emergency officials said. No injuries were reported.

The passenger jet took off from Krasnoyarsk overnight headed for Ulan-Ude, near Lake Baikal, a duty officer with the Krasnoyarsk branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

When the jet reached an altitude of 4,000 meters, the senior pilot reported a loss of cockpit pressure, and the crew turned back to Krasnoyarsk, the duty officer said.

The reason for the problem was being investigated.

Moving Launches

MOSCOW (AP) Ч Russia plans to relocate all its military satellite launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to its own launch pad, the commander of the nationТs Space Forces said Tuesday.

Russia will continue using Baikonur, which it leases from Kazakhstan, for launching manned missions and commercial satellites but will work to transfer all military launches to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia, Space Forces chief Colonel General Anatoly Perminov said on a trip to Baikonur.

"This is our task for the next eight to 10 years," Perminov said, Interfax-Military News Agency and Itar-Tass reported. He did not explain the reasons behind the move.

Putin Talks to Chavez

MOSCOW (AP) Ч President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone on Monday to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is back in power after last weekendТs failed coup.

The Russian presidential press service said Chavez informed Putin about the efforts to normalize the situation and restore stability. Putin wished Chavez "success in the earliest possible restoration of civil peace," the presidential press service said.