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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Prisoners Quizzed

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian investigators gained valuable information about how international terrorist networks are aiding Chechen rebels by questioning three Russian citizens held by U.S. authorities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, an official said in an interview published Friday.

Igor Tkachev, an investigator with the Prosecutor General's Office, told the Izvestia newspaper that his team learned more about Afghan residents who fought on the rebel side in Chechnya, and also about how a militant group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has been funneling arms and money to the Chechen rebels.

Tkachev led a four-person team that traveled last month to Guantanamo to question the three men, who are among the hundreds of alleged al-Qaida and Taliban fighters now being held at the U.S. naval base. The three Russians were identified as Rasul Kudayev, from Kabardino-Balkaria, and Almaz Sharipov and Ravil Gumarov.

10 Rebels Sentenced

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- A court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced 10 alleged Chechen rebels to prison Friday for taking part in a notorious 1995 hostage raid led by rebel commander Shamil Basayev.

The defendants received terms ranging from 11 to 15 years in a maximum security prison, said Dmitry Olifirenko, spokesman for the Southern Federal District. They were found guilty of charges including terrorism, banditry, hostage-taking and possession of illegal weapons, he said, adding that their lawyers planned to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Norilsk Bars 13

MOSCOW (MT) -- Thirteen CIS citizens were barred from the closed northern Siberian city of Norilsk on Thursday and put on a plane back home, Interfax reported, quoting a source in the city's administration.

The 13 people were taken home at the expense of the air carrier, which had sold them the plane tickets even though they did not have special permission to visit the city, Interfax said. A government resolution reinstating Norilsk on the list of areas where foreigners can travel only with special permission was signed on Oct. 30 and came into effect Nov. 25.

Conductor Dies

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Mark Ermler, a former music director at the Bolshoi Theater and chief conductor at the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, died of kidney failure Sunday, the South Korean orchestra said. He was 69.

Ermler died at Seoul's Kangbuk Samsung Hospital after being hospitalized for a chronic kidney ailment Thursday, the orchestra said.

Born in 1932 in Leningrad, Ermler debuted as a symphonic conductor with the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra in 1952. He joined the Bolshoi Theater in 1956 and conducted more than 2,000 performances in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan.

Ermler became the chief conductor of the Seoul Philharmonic in May 2000. He is survived by his wife, Dina, and a daughter.

Adoption Acquittal

MOSCOW (AP) -- An Italian woman charged with bribing officials and forging documents to facilitate adoptions of Russian children by foreigners was acquitted Friday for lack of evidence, prosecutors said.

Nadezhda Fratti, of the Italian adoption agency Arcobaleno, was arrested more than a year ago in Volgograd. She faced a prison sentence of up to eight years if convicted.

The Volgograd district court also acquitted three local residents who were co-defendants with Fratti: the director of a local orphanage, an education department inspector and an orphanage doctor. The court said that there was insufficient evidence of Fratti's participation in illegal activities, prosecutor Lyudmila Yelistratova said.

Hepatitis Outbreak

MOSCOW (AP) -- An outbreak of hepatitis A at a school in the Volga River city of Yaroslavl has hospitalized 58 children, according to a report Thursday.

The children caught the disease from a school cook who failed to report the disease to officials, the head doctor of the Yaroslavl region, Sergei Melyuk, told Itar-Tass.

The school has been closed while all students, teachers and their families are examined for hepatitis, and Melyuk said they are also being vaccinated. Requirements for school employees will be tightened in light of the outbreak and those responsible will be punished, he said.

9 Soldiers Killed

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia (AP) -- Airplanes and artillery pounded southern Chechnya on Sunday, while nine federal servicemen were killed in explosions and hit-and-run attacks over the past 24 hours, officials said.

Taking advantage of clear weather, federal forces used aviation in the Vedeno district. They also used artillery in Vedeno and other parts of the mountainous south, an official with Chechnya's Moscow-appointed administration said.

Meanwhile, more than 80 suspected rebels were detained in security sweeps in the Shali and Urus-Martan districts, the official said.

5 Die in Fire

MOSCOW (AP) -- The bodies of five people were discovered in a wooden house in the Far East that was ravaged by fire Friday, and one of the corpses showed signs of a violent death, an emergency official said.

Vadim Sayrenko, a duty officer in the Siberian department of the Emergency Situations Ministry, said the blaze broke out in a house in the village of Olovyaninka in the Chita region, near the Chinese border. It took firefighters two hours to extinguish the flames, after which they found the five bodies, he said.

Police have launched an investigation, Sayrenko said.

For the Record

Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes met Saturday with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to discuss international security issues, the Middle East, Afghanistan and other issues. (AP)

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said Friday he would reshuffle his government when two rival political parties ended post-election horse-trading and the structure of the country's new parliament finally took shape. (Reuters)

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and his Swedish counterpart Bjorn von Sydow pledged Friday to increase military cooperation and work more closely in the fight against terrorism. (AP)