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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Klebanov on Kursk

MOSCOW (AP) -- Industry, Science and Technology Minister Ilya Klebanov said Wednesday that the only possible cause of the Kursk sinking was a flawed torpedo, not a collision with another ship or a World War II mine.

Klebanov, who is in charge of the official commission looking into the disaster, said that officials are now looking at just one possible reason for the disaster -- the explosion of a practice torpedo.

"There is just one version left. We have dismissed other versions relating to a collision and a World War II mine," he said.

Klebanov said Tuesday that the government commission will announce the final verdict on June 29.

Briton Abducted

TBILISI, Georgia (Reuters) -- A British banker working in Georgia has been abducted after police failed to beat off his heavily armed kidnappers in a gun battle, Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili said.

Peter Shaw, 57, an executive director of the Georgian commercial Agrobusinessbank, was seized by seven armed men in central Tbilisi on Tuesday evening. Shaw had been due to leave Thursday at the end of a six-year spell in Georgia.

President Eduard Shevardnadze urged security forces to leave no stone unturned to secure Shaw's early release.

Narchemashvili said Wednesday that Shaw's car had first been stopped near his bank by three bogus policemen who tried to force him out. Policemen who went to investigate came under fire from four more armed men who turned up in another car. Narchemashvili said Shaw may have been kidnapped for ransom.

Agrobusinessbank, set by the Georgian government and the European Commission in 1999, was due to be privatized by 2003.

Iraq Sale Probe

KIEV (AP) -- Ukraine's parliament approved an opposition lawmaker's request Wednesday for a criminal investigation to be opened into the country's former security chief and his lawmaker son, previously alleged to have been involved in an arms deal with Iraq.

Hryhoriy Omelchenko, a deputy of the opposition faction of former Deputy Prime Minister Julia Tymoshenko, requested that acting Prosecutor General Mykola Harnyk and Security Service chief Volodymyr Radchenko open a criminal case against Leonid Derkach and his son Andriy for "alleged harm to Ukraine's economy."

Aliyev Election Bid

BAKU, Azerbaijan (Reuters) --Azeri President Heidar Aliyev, who has single-handedly ruled this oil-rich Caspian nation for a decade, said Wednesday he would run for another five years in office next year.

Aliyev, 79, has ruled Azerbaijan with an iron fist since 1993. He has looked increasingly frail since undergoing heart surgery in 1999, and health concerns have sparked speculation about who could replace him.

But he expressed confidence that he would win re-election. "The ruling party and the people of Azerbaijan have asked me to stand for presidential office in 2003. I have accepted the offer and will run," Aliyev said.

3rd Suspect Named

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- Far East prosecutors have named a third suspect in the lethal firebomb attack that killed a border guard general and severely injured his wife.

The suspect, 23-year-old Alexei Anikin, is registered in Chernyakhovsk, a city in the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, a prosecutor's spokeswoman in Sakhalin said.

Authorities in Kaliningrad detained two other suspects in the attack this month and sent them to Sakhalin Island to face charges.

Customs Holds Man

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- A Russian man has been detained on suspicion of attempting to smuggle classified military aircraft documents and parts to China, a customs official said Wednesday.

The 39-year-old man was on the same China-bound train where border guards seized a package of military aircraft documents and parts Monday, said a spokeswoman for the State Customs Committee.

The package was discovered in the locomotive car of the train when it stopped in the village of Pogranichny en route to China. The man, who was not identified, was handed over to security agents for interrogation, the spokeswoman said.

8 Soldiers Lost

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Eight Russian peacekeeping troops who had originally been accused of deserting their posts in Georgia had gotten lost, their commander said.

The eight peacekeepers had gotten lost after leaving their unit in Artsevy in South Ossetia, said Major General Vasily Prizemlin, commander of the joint peacekeeping force in the region.

A spokesman for the Georgian contingent of the joint peacekeeping force earlier said that the peacekeepers had deserted their unit. Georgian and South Ossetian police had launched a search.

Six of the peacekeepers returned to their base, and two others were stranded because their legs had given out from wandering, Prizemlin said.

Lukashenko Angered

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko lashed out at President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, accusing him of insulting the Belarussian people when he poured cold water on plans for a Russia-Belarus union.

Last Thursday, Putin said he was strongly against creating anything resembling the Soviet Union and pointed out that Belarus' weak economy would be a burden for Russia.

Lukashenko said that Putin's comments were "an insult to the Belarussian people."

Putin and Lukashenko talked about the union by telephone on Wednesday, Interfax reported.

For the Record

The number of potential candidates in the Krasnoyarsk gubernatorial race rose to 21 on Wednesday as Taimyr Governor Alexander Khloponin, Krasnoyarsk politician Igor Zakharov and Moscow-based coffin tycoon German Sterligov submitted their bids to the regional elections commission. Each contender must gather 23,000 signatures in his support by Aug. 3 in order to be registered as a candidate. (MT)

A United Nations delegation arrived in Chechnya on Wednesday to study the problems facing returning refugees and the provision of aid to children who have suffered during the fighting. (AP)