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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Senate Election Bill

MOSCOW (MT) -- Yabloko has introduced a bill to the State Duma that provides for direct elections of members to the Federation Council.

A spokeswoman for the liberal party said Monday the bill allows for gradual replacement of existing Federation Council members, who are currently appointed.

The terms of the each region's representatives expire at different times, and under the bill the president would announce when elections are to be held, she said.

Yabloko Duma Deputy Igor Artemyev, one of the authors of the bill, consulted with the presidential administration before the bill was introduced. It is expected to have its first reading in the Duma's fall session, the spokeswoman said.

Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov has said he would support direct elections to the council.

Georgia Cooperation

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin called Monday for close cooperation with Georgia in fighting international terrorism, saying terrorists threaten not only their two governments but the whole world.

"It's important that joint actions of Russian and Georgian law enforcement agencies bring practical results in neutralizing bandits and curbing the activities of their accomplices," Putin said in a letter to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, excerpts of which were released by the presidential press service.

Putin was writing to Shevardnadze to congratulate him on the 10th anniversary of the establishment of formal diplomatic ties between Russia and Georgia.

In his letter, Putin said signing a treaty of friendship -- something he called for last year -- would be an "important step" in strengthening relations and taking them to a higher level.

Priest Killed in Crash

VLADIVOSTOK, Far East (AP) -- A Spanish Catholic priest died after a car crash near the Pacific port of Vladivostok, Russian Catholic officials said Monday.

The priest, identified as Federico Gonzale-Fierro Botas, died on the way to a hospital Friday after the car carrying him and three Russian companions veered off a highway and overturned near Lubyanka village, said Nikolai Dorodnov, secretary of Vladivostok's Most Holy Mother of God Church. Gonzale-Fierro was 59.

The three Russians -- a Catholic priest and two theological students -- escaped uninjured, Dorodnov said.

Police in the area of the crash blamed the accident on the driver, one of the young students, saying he had little driving experience.

Singer Shot Dead

MOSCOW (MT) -- Singer-songwriter Mikhail Krug, 40, was shot dead by at least two armed, masked intruders in his house in the city of Tver on Sunday night, Interfax reported Monday, citing Tver law enforcement officers.

Krug -- the stage name of Mikhail Vorobyov -- was shot in the chest and a female relative received light injuries during the incident. The intruders fled the scene without trace, the report said.

The singer was taken to a hospital but died during surgery without regaining consciousness, Interfax said.

Arafat Contacts

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia has no plans to cut off contacts with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, even as the United States presses its demand that he step down, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said Monday.

"To influence a settlement, naturally it's necessary to maintain contacts and dialogue with both sides," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax as saying. "Therefore we are actively maintaining contacts with Israel and with the Palestinian leadership, including with its leader Yasser Arafat."

Putin Welcomes Jews

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin on Monday welcomed Russian-speaking Jewish leaders from around the globe who are gathering in Moscow to take part in the new World Congress of Russian Jewry.

"For the first time, an international organization is being created of Russian-speaking Jews, people who belong to two great cultures: Jewish and Russian," Putin said in a statement released by the presidential press service.

Delegates from Jewish communities in Russia and across the former Soviet Union are taking part in the four-day congress, along with those from Israel, the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. Their goal is to build cooperation between Jewish organizations, support Jewish culture, support the people of Israel and the global anti-terrorist coalition.