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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Emergency Landings

MOSCOW (AP) -- A KrasAir Tu-134 carrying 73 people skidded onto a runway in the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk early Tuesday after its front landing gear failed to descend, sending up smoke and alarming passengers.

No one was injured, said Viktor Beltsov, spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry.

The pilot of the passenger plane reported after takeoff from the western Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk that the strut of the front landing gear had been damaged and that the plane would have to make an emergency landing in Irkutsk, Beltsov said.

After the landing, the 66 passengers and seven crew were evacuated.

Meanwhile, a Yak-42 carrying the Rotor soccer team made an emergency landing Tuesday in the southern city of Volgograd because one of its engines failed soon after takeoff, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported. The team was evacuated and flew to Moscow on a different plane.

And the landing gear on a Tupolev plane carrying 55 people from the Siberian town of Surgut failed to retract Tuesday, worrying ground controllers, but the problem later fixed itself, Beltsov said.

Brezhnev's Grandson

MOSCOW (AP) -- In an interview Tuesday with the Gazeta newspaper, Andrei Brezhnev, grandson of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, sharply criticized the Communist Party, saying it has lost its bearings and shifted toward nationalism and religion.

Brezhnev said he hopes his New Communist Party will earn the support of Russians who are unhappy with the main Communist Party but believe in communist ideals.

Andrei Brezhnev's name is well- known, but his face and his party, which held its founding congress late last month, are not.

He told Gazeta that the three organizations that make up the party have a total of more than 10,000 members, but when he ran for governor of the Tula region south of Moscow last year he got just 1.1 percent of the vote.

Brezhnev was quoted as saying he plans to run for president in the future but not in the next election, in 2004, saying he does not have the money to mount a campaign.

Operations in Iraq

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, speaking at a news conference Tuesday with his counterpart from Britain, reiterated Russia's strong opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Iraq.

"We do not and cannot back any unilateral military actions against Iraq that are not sanctioned by the United Nations," Ivanov said after meetings with British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon.

He said reports that the United States is preparing to attack Iraq are causing concern in Russia.

Also Tuesday, the Iraqi ambassador to Belarus said Iraq is prepared to make the former Soviet republic one of its leading trade partners, and could sign contracts worth $1 billion with Belarus if United Nations sanctions are lifted against Baghdad.

"Belarus and Russia are standing in the first place among European countries with which Iraq is cooperating and will cooperate after the lifting of sanctions," said Iraqi Ambassador Daif Ahmed.

Zhirinovsky Denied

MOSCOW (MT) -- State Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said Tuesday that he has been denied a U.S. visa and had to cancel a lecture tour of the United States.

Zhirinovsky had been scheduled to address Russian immigrants in major cities, including New York, where a theater in Brooklyn had sold tickets for $20 to $50 per head, news agencies reported. Zhirinovsky said on NTV television that he would not have received an honorarium.

He said the United States was worried his visit could "reorient the Russian community to serving Russia."

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow said it was against its policy to comment on individual visa cases.

Abuses in Chechnya

MOSCOW (AP) -- Illegal actions by federal troops in Chechnya hurt the military's morale and its image among civilians, President Vladimir Putin's chief spokesman on the war-torn region, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, said Tuesday.

"When servicemen, from a professional soldier to a high-ranking officer, breach the law, they undermine the already weak respect for the army and trigger its deterioration," Interfax quoted Yastrzhembsky as saying.

Yastrzhembsky called for the prosecution of soldiers and officers suspected of breaking the law in Chechnya.

Auto Shop Blast

MOSCOW (AP) -- A gasoline explosion rattled an auto repair shop and injured three mechanics Tuesday on Verkhny Predtechensky Pereulok, located a few hundred meters from the White House, emergency officials said.

Gasoline had collected in one of the pits mechanics use to view cars from underneath, leading to an explosion and small fire, said Alexander Krivonoshenko, spokesman for the city emergencies department.

Emergency officials sent a helicopter to the site and evacuated one of the injured mechanics, Krivonoshenko said. Another was sent to a hospital in an ambulance and the third was treated on the spot.

For the Record

A train carrying a 250-member South Korean delegation on a mission to promote friendship with Russia began rolling along the Trans-Siberian Railroad on Tuesday, departing from the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok. The Friendship Express carrying Korean politicians, businessmen, artists and students is headed to Moscow and St. Petersburg. (AP)

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will visit North Korea, Pyongyang's official news agency reported Tuesday. The report did not say when Ivanov's visit would take place. But officials in Seoul said they expected Ivanov would go to the North after a three-day visit to South Korea that begins July 26. (AP)