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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

First Pardons Issued

MOSCOW (AP) --- President Vladimir Putin has pardoned 10 prisoners in the first such move since he abolished a presidential pardons commission last year.

He approved the 10 pardons on the basis of recommendations from new regional pardons commissions, but he also turned down several more, a statement from the presidential press service said Friday.

The statement gave no details about the pardoned prisoners.

It said Putin had taken into account whether the convicts had small children, were disabled or were war veterans, and how the convicts conducted themselves in prison. Among the pardon requests he declined were those involving convicted murderers and drug traffickers.

So far, 53 of Russia's 89 regions have created pardons commissions.

Channel 6 License

MOSCOW (MT) --The Press Ministry has given a broadcast license for the sixth channel to Media-Socium, a nonprofit partnership formed by Yevgeny Primakov, who now heads the Russian Chamber of Commerce, and Arkady Volsky, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Interfax said.

Press Minister Mikhail Lesin said Media-Socium was permitted to begin broadcasting June 1 on the frequency, which has been occupied by NTV-Plus television since the closure of TV6 in January. Media-Socium won the tender for the channel in March but the start of broadcasting has been delayed because the previous license, held by MNVK, only recently expired, Interfax said.

Annan to Visit in June

MOSCOW (AP) -- UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will make an official visit in early June, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Annan will fly to Moscow June 4-6 to discuss ways of deepening cooperation between Russia and the United Nations and "strengthening the UN's central role in supporting international peace and security," the ministry said in a statement.

Krasnoyarsk Election

MOSCOW (MT) -- The brother of late Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Lebed, who was killed last month in a helicopter crash, is considering running in gubernatorial elections set for Sept. 8 in the vast Siberian region, Interfax reported Friday.

Alexei Lebed, president of neighboring Khakassia, is discussing the issue with the Honor and Motherland political movement, which is pushing for him to run, a source in the movement told Interfax. The movement was founded by Alexander Lebed.

Alexei Lebed, who was re-elected for a second term in 2000, is expected to make a decision by the end of the month, the source said.

Candidates who have confirmed their intention to run for Krasnoyarsk governor include Alexander Uss, speaker of the regional assembly; Alexander Khloponin, governor of the neighboring Taimyr region; Krasnoyarsk Mayor Alexander Pimashkov; and State Duma deputies Pyotr Romanov and Sergei Glazyev.

Rome Flights Cut

ROME (AP) -- Commercial flights in and out of Rome's Leonardo da Vinci Airport will be sharply reduced and checks on all passengers and luggage will be increased Tuesday, when 20 heads of government and state will gather in a seaside town near the capital for a NATO-Russia summit.

The company operating Rome's airports also said Friday that Ciampino, the capital's second-largest airport, would be closed to private airlines and reserved for VIP flights both Monday and Tuesday.

The measures were part of heavy security being readied by Italy for the one-day meeting. During the summit, NATO and Russia are to sign an agreement establishing a joint council to set policy on counterterrorism and a range of other issues.

Ukraine Eyes NATO

KIEV (AP) -- Two days after Ukraine declared its intention to seek membership in NATO, a group of NATO experts arrived in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol on Sunday for talks with Ukrainian military leaders.

NATO representatives are expected to discuss reforming Ukraine's armed forces and cooperation under the alliance's Partnership for Peace program for nonmember nations, Itar-Tass reported.

National Security and Defense Council head Yevhen Marchuk declared Thursday that Ukraine will start the process to apply for membership in NATO. Ukraine intends to officially inform NATO of its decision on July 9 during a visit to Kiev by alliance Secretary-General George Robertson, Marchuk said.

Halonen Meets Putin

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Tarja Halonen pledged Sunday to continue cementing good ties between their nations.

"The Finns and Russians have found each other. Our relations are so close that it's important and good that our leaders meet regularly," a smiling Halonen said. "It's good there are such excellent relations between big and small countries."

On Monday, Halonen is to visit the Leningrad region, where she will meet Governor Valery Serdyukov, visit the port of Primorsk and tour Vyborg.

Warning Shots

MOSCOW (AP) -- Guards at nuclear facilities have been ordered to fire warning shots at environmentalists who try to break into the premises, Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said Saturday.

Rumyantsev said there had been several efforts recently by environmental groups to break into nuclear facilities to prove that it is possible to steal nuclear materials, Interfax reported.

"I'm afraid that if the 'Greens' persistently try to enter guarded nuclear territories, it could end tragically," Rumyantsev said.

Guards at nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities have been instructed to "open fire for effect" if their demands are ignored, he added.

Sudanese Attacked

MOSCOW (AP) -- A Sudanese man was attacked in Kaluzhskaya metro station and hospitalized with injuries, police said Saturday.

The man was assaulted Friday afternoon and was in satisfactory condition Saturday in a Moscow trauma center, a duty police officer said. He had no other details.

Interfax reported that the man was a student at the People's Friendship University in southern Moscow and was attacked by two high school students.