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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Editor Fired

MOSCOW (MT) -- A week after a reporter from the Nenets autonomous district asked President Vladimir Putin at a Kremlin news conference why three regional prosecutors in a row had lost their jobs after they summoned Governor Vladimir Butov for questioning, the newspaper's editor was dismissed Tuesday.

Yulia Cheburina, the editor of Naryana Vynder in the Nenets capital, Naryan Mar, was sacked following the paper's board meeting for "numerous financial violations," Vitaly Smirnov, the deputy managing editor, said in a telephone interview from Naryan Mar.

But the staff believes the decision was made to silence the newspaper, which is often critical of the regional administration. Alexei Vasilivetsky, the reporter who asked Putin about Butov, told TVS television that he believes the decision could be a reaction to his question to Putin.

Butov, meanwhile, failed to show up at his office in Naryan Mar on Tuesday as promised, his staff said.

Prosecutors last week charged the governor with abuse of office and issued a federal search warrant for him. Later in the week, the deputy prosecutor general for the Northwest Federal District ordered the charges be withdrawn and the warrant canceled. Prosecutor Vladimir Zubrin said Butov is under investigation in six criminal cases, but has not yet been implicated.

Butov told news agencies last week that he is not hiding and promised to be back in the office Tuesday. But Tuesday, the governor told Interfax that he was taking a vacation on his doctor's recommendation and would arrive in Naryan Mar within the next two days.

Chechnya Pullout

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia (AP) -- Russia's military is shrinking its 80,000-strong force in Chechnya to a tighter, long-term force in a withdrawal that may wrap up by the end of the year, Colonel General Vladimir Moltenskoi, commander of troops in the area, said Monday.

Moltenskoi repeated contentions that fighters under rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov are no longer able to mount serious resistance to federal forces, despite continued raids.

Maskhadov "has no more resources to organize resistance against the federal troops, because in the spring the rebels suffered major losses that they have not been able to make up for," Moltenskoi said, Interfax reported.

Moltenskoi said the current force in Chechnya was about 80,000 servicemen from the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry and other agencies. The Defense Ministry force is being reduced to 22,000 troops, including a 14,000 permanent division and military commandant's offices, he said.

Ukraine Miner Picket

KIEV (AP) -- More than 100 coal miners picketed outside the Ukrainian parliament building on Tuesday, demanding their unpaid wages, and an opposition activist urged the government to formulate a program to support the coal industry.

As a hunger strike by 88 miners entered its second week, a Socialist Party legislator called on the government of Prime Minister Anatoly Kinakh to report to parliament on efforts to improve mining conditions.

According to union estimates, the government owes some 92 million hryvna ($17.35 million) to striking miners from just one company, Donbassantratsyt. Miners from other companies are owed millions as well.

Ukrainian Finance Minister Ihor Yushko promised on Monday that miners would be paid 110 million hryvna by the end of the week, independent ICTV television reported.

Bus Crash Kills 7

YEKATERINBURG, Ural Mountains (Reuters) -- A bus plunged into a river in the Ural Mountains on Tuesday, killing at least seven people and injuring 23, the local emergencies ministry said.

Two more passengers had yet to be found, said ministry spokeswoman Lyubov Mikhelson. Officials said they had probably been swept away by the river.

Mikhelson said the bus driver lost control while driving in a mountainous area of the Chelyabinsk region.

"On the Satka-Alekseyevka-Aylino route, on a mountainous section of the road, the driver missed a turn and the bus fell into the Ay River," she said.

Bosnia Pullout

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Washington's threat to kill off UN peace missions in a dispute over the powers of a new global war crimes court could destabilize Bosnia, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Monday.

"We consider it necessary to resolve this situation, as the absence of international forces could destabilize the situation in Bosnia," Ivanov told reporters after talks with his Swiss counterpart.

Belarus Activists' Plea

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- Belarussian activists and Russian lawmakers appealed to President Vladimir Putin on Monday to order Russian secret services to help investigate the disappearances of several well-known people in Belarus in recent years.

Putin promised to raise the subject with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, said Anatoly Lebedko, leader of the Belarusian United Civil Party. The appeal was initiated by Belarussian opposition groups, signed by Russian lawmakers and passed on to Putin by parliamentary leaders who met with him in the Kremlin on Monday.

Belarussian opposition groups accuse Lukashenko's administration of involvement in the disappearances, saying the missing people were targeted because they ran afoul of the authorities.

Kazakh Arrests

ALMATY, Kazakhstan (AP) -- Police in Kazakhstan have detained two members of an extremist Islamic group who were wanted by Interpol, the Interior Ministry said Monday.

The two Uzbek citizens were detained in Almaty, ministry spokeswoman Anna Naleikina said. She gave no details of the detention.

She said both suspects were members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that has called for the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia.

Discussions on their extradition to Uzbekistan were under way.

Soccer Rioters

MOSCOW (MT) -- Twenty-three people have been officially charged in connection with the June 9 riots and 12 more have been taken into custody, Prosecutor Mikhail Avdyukov said Tuesday, Interfax reported.

A crowd of 8,000 rioted on Manezh Square, killing two people and destroying cars and shop windows, after the national soccer team lost to Japan in the World Cup.