Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Georgia Spat Simmers

VLADIKAVKAZ, North Ossetia (AP) -- The military said Thursday that it was completing the hunt for Chechen rebels on the border with Georgia, while Moscow kept the pressure on its neighbor to let Russian troops conduct a military operation to root out rebels taking refuge on Georgian territory.

Federal troops were searching the mountains in southern Chechnya for rebels who had allegedly crossed over from Georgia on Saturday. Officials said the fighting claimed the lives of eight border guards and about half of 60 invading rebels. Georgia has said it was unaware of a rebel incursion from its territory.

Senator Mikhail Margelov derided what he called the Georgian government's "impotence" in dealing with Chechen rebels on its territory. He said Thursday that lawmakers would eagerly approve military action against rebels in Georgia if Putin makes such a decision, Interfax reported.

Georgia has dismissed the Kremlin's demands for military action on its soil and said it was counting on the United States to train its military for action against militants who hole up in its lawless Pankisi Gorge.

Order 80 to Change

MOSCOW (MT) -- Military and human rights officials are ironing out new regulations that would stop federal troops from entering private homes when conducting mopping-up operations in Chechnya, Abdul-Khakim Sultygov, the republic's recently appointed presidential envoy for human rights, told Interfax on Thursday.

Sultygov said he and several top military officials met Thursday and discussed a draft amendment to the controversial Order 80, which was introduced last spring to rein in the notorious searches in Chechnya, but has been widely flouted by troops. The amendment stipulates that federal troops would only surround a village, while searches for rebels within the village would be done by local police, prosecutors and other law enforcement officials. The draft should be finalized in two weeks, Sultygov said.

Dog Owner Killed

MOSCOW (AP) -- A police officer who was knocked down by a Rottweiler shot and wounded the dog and killed its owner, Moscow police said Thursday.

The officer, Bulat Azizbayev, was patrolling the Kuzminki neighborhood in southeastern Moscow on Wednesday when he saw a woman walking with three large dogs, all unmuzzled and one without a leash.

The officer warned the woman, Natalya Slimanka, that she should not walk with unmuzzled dogs and that he would shoot if the dogs attacked passers-by, said Moscow police spokesman Yevgeny Geldiyev.

While Azizbayev was speaking with Slimanka, one of the dogs, a Rottweiler, attacked the officer, who shot the animal four times. Slimanka was caught in the crossfire and died.

Ukraine's Missiles

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Using Ukraine's NATO ambitions as a wedge, U.S. officials are pressing the country to better protect its missile technology so that it does not end up in the hands of Iraq.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Thursday that delegations from countries such as Iran and Iraq have visited Ukraine, seeking meetings with those who hold the technology. "The Ukrainians are generally pretty open with us about this," the official said.

The United States has no evidence that Ukraine has transferred technology to Iraq, the official said, but it is awaiting the results of an investigation, promised by President Leonid Kuchma, into the practices of those who trade with Iraq.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials are working with Ukraine to improve security at its 11 nuclear power plants and other institutions that contain sensitive materials that can be used to make weapons such as dirty bombs, the official said. They also are looking to tighten security at Ukraine's border along Russia and the Black Sea to prevent nuclear weapons trafficking.

Spy Sentence Upheld

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a 14-year prison sentence for a businessman convicted of spying for the United States, court spokesman Pavel Odintsov said.

Odintsov said the court ruled that the Moscow regional court's verdict last October in the case of Viktor Kalyadin should stand, rejecting his lawyers' appeal to acquit him or reduce the sentence.

Kalyadin, the head of the Moscow-based Eles Elektron company, was found guilty on charges of giving an unidentified U.S. official sensitive data on the Arena tank-defense system, Interfax reported.

Interfax said Kalyadin had received sensitive documents from the Kolomna-based design bureau that develops the Arena through two brothers, who in October received prison sentences of 14 and 20 months, respectively. The case against two other people accused of helping Kalyadin obtain the documents was closed because of an amnesty.

Kalyadin's lawyer Lyudmila Trunova said she would appeal.

Japanese Visit

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei (AP) -- Japan's foreign minister will visit Moscow in October and hopes to resolve a dispute over four islands in the Kuril chain to pave the way for a formal peace treaty ending World War II hostilities, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Thursday.

Russia and Japan never signed a formal treaty at the end of World War II because of a dispute over the islands, which were seized by Soviet forces in the closing days of the war.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Thursday told his Japanese counterpart, Yoriko Kawaguchi, that Russia would like to discuss the issue thoroughly when she visits Moscow, the official said. The two ministers decided Kawaguchi would visit Moscow Oct. 12-14.

Tolstoy Reunion

MOSCOW (AP) -- Descendants of Leo Tolstoy gathered on Thursday for what is being billed as the biggest ever Tolstoy family reunion at the late writer's estate at Yasnaya Polyana, 200 kilometers south of Moscow.

About 90 out of 300 known Tolstoy relatives, from Russia, Europe and the United States, will take a special train Friday from Moscow to Yasnaya Polyana, said the author's great-great-grandson, Vladimir Tolstoy, who administers the estate. The family is gathering to mark the 140th anniversary of Tolstoy's marriage, as well as the 150th anniversary of the publishing of Tolstoy's first story, "Childhood."