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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Radio Liberty Flap

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Foreign Ministry summoned a senior U.S. diplomat on Tuesday, saying U.S.-funded Radio Liberty's plans to broadcast to Chechnya amounted to propaganda and endangered improving relations.

Radio Liberty said it would broadcast to Chechnya from Wednesday in local languages.

A Foreign Ministry statement said the U.S. diplomat had been handed a note expressing concern.

"The Russian side stressed that launching specific propaganda broadcasts in the region, including Chechnya … could seriously complicate efforts by [Russian] authorities to stabilize the situation in the area," the statement said.

"This move is incompatible with the common fight against terrorism."

No Budanov Release

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- Colonel Yury Budanov, who is accused of killing an 18-year-old Chechen woman, was ordered Tuesday to remain behind bars after a judge turned down a request to release him.

Budanov is accused of killing Elza Kungayeva in Chechnya two years ago. His trial began in February 2001 in Rostov-on-Don but has suffered frequent delays.

His lawyers, Alexei Dulimov and Anatoly Mukhin, asked Tuesday that their client be released on condition that he agree not to leave town. Budanov has already been imprisoned for two years without being convicted, which his lawyers called a violation of legal standards.

But Judge Viktor Kostin rejected the request and ordered Budanov to continue to be held until the next court hearing, scheduled for May 14.

Iraq Warns Russia

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq warned Russia, its top trade partner and closest ally on the UN Security Council, to reject a revamped UN oil-for-food program drafted by the United States and Britain, or risk losing lucrative oil contracts.

Iraq appeared alarmed over Russia's acceptance last fall of the revised list of goods restricted for export to Iraq under the United Nations humanitarian program.

On Monday, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz warned a visiting Russian delegation of politicians and businessmen that he expects Moscow to "stand fully by Iraq at the Security Council or it will lose its contracts in this oil-rich country."

"We expect Russia to act at this stage by stopping such a resolution. After all, it is a permanent member," Aziz told the gathering on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between Iraq and the former Soviet Union.

Patriarch Protests

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The Russian Orthodox Church sent a message Tuesday to the Israeli leadership, demanding an immediate withdrawal from a Russian church taken over by Israeli troops as they smashed their way into Bethlehem.

Israeli troops, met by gunfire from Palestinian fighters as they advanced into Bethlehem, were taking positions inside the church building, said Patriarch Alexy II.

"This morning Israeli troops occupied territory belonging to our Church near the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, where the Pilgrim House is," Alexy said in the message addressed to the Israeli president and prime minister.

"We have heard weapons are being installed in the building."

Rushailo Visits India

NEW DELHI, India (Reuters) -- National security adviser Vladimir Rushailo arrived in India on Tuesday for a four-day visit aimed at fostering regional security and strengthening ties with its old Cold War ally.

Rushailo was slated to meet a host of government leaders, including Home Minister L.K. Advani, Defense Minister George Fernandes and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra, an Indian Foreign Ministry official said.

Interfax quoted Rushailo as saying before he left that he would discuss cooperation between Indian and Pakistani security councils.

Simonov's Son Dies

MOSCOW (MT) -- Kirill Simonov, son of Glasnost Defense Foundation president Alexei Simonov and grandson of writer Konstantin Simonov, has committed suicide, Interfax quoted the Moscow city police as saying Tuesday.

Kirill Simonov, who was born in 1983, jumped out of an 11th-floor window of an apartment block on Aeroportovskaya Ulitsa on Monday at 2:45 a.m., the report said.

Guantanamo Cases

MOSCOW (AP) -- Prosecutors are preparing criminal cases against three Russian citizens being held by U.S. authorities at the Guantanamo Bay prison for captured Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, officials said Tuesday.

"If there is reason to assume that they are guilty of taking part in terrorist activities as armed mercenaries, being members of terrorist organizations, they should undoubtedly be held criminally responsible," Justice Minister Yury Chaika was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Late Monday, Deputy Prosecutor General Sergei Fridinsky told Interfax that criminal cases were already being prepared against the three. He said charges under consideration included illegal border crossing and acting as a mercenary.

Protocol on Kodor

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgia agreed Tuesday to withdraw its units from the Kodor Gorge in northwestern Georgia and allow Russian peacekeepers and UN observers to resume joint patrols in the tense region next week.

Georgia's minister-at-large, Malkhaz Kakabadze, signed a protocol agreeing to the withdrawal of Georgian military divisions from the gorge by April 10. The UN and Russian patrols are expected to start on the same day.

The protocol was agreed under the advice of Dieter Boden, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's envoy in Abkhazia.

Balkan Troop Cuts

MOSCOW (AP) -- The military said Tuesday it will scale back its peacekeeping operations in Bosnia by 300 servicemen, leaving a contingent of 270 in the Balkans nation, Interfax reported.

An airborne brigade that is currently part of SFOR, the NATO-led stabilization force in Bosnia, will be transformed into a Russian peacekeeping contingent of 270 officers and motorized infantry soldiers, Interfax said. The number of checkpoints and the area of Russian responsibility also will be reduced, the agency said.