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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kalugin Plea Rejected

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the lawyer for Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general who was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison for high treason.

In June, the Moscow City Court found Kalugin guilty of giving away state secrets in his 1994 book "The First Directorate." In the book, Kalugin described his career in the KGB, where he served as a top counterintelligence officer, and included information about Americans who worked as Soviet agents.

Lawyer Yevgeny Baru had argued that Kalugin should be acquitted since his guilt was not proven. However, the nation's highest court upheld the conviction, said Pavel Odintsov, a Supreme Court spokesman.

Kalugin's trial was conducted hastily before the new Criminal Procedural Code, which prohibits trials in absentia, took effect on July 1.

Kalugin, who has been critical of his former spy colleagues since retiring in 1990, lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and lectures on Russian politics and intelligence in Washington.

Sorokin Search

MOSCOW (AP) -- Police have searched the offices of a publishing house at the center of a pornography investigation involving iconoclastic author Vladimir Sorokin, one of Sorokin's lawyers said.

The police seized several copies of Sorokin's 1999 novel "Goluboye Salo," along with documents relating to the book's publication during the search Monday, said Alexander Glushenkov, who represents both Sorokin and the publishing house, Ad Marginem.

Police opened an investigation of Sorokin and Ad Marginem after a pro-presidential youth group, Moving Together, filed a criminal complaint accusing Sorokin of disseminating pornography. "Goluboye Salo," which can be translated as "Blue Lard" or "Gay Lard," depicts sex between former Soviet leaders Josef Stalin and Nikita Khrushchev, among other allegedly offensive material.

Putin to Visit China

BEIJING (Reuters) -- President Vladimir Putin will visit China late this year, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, in a summit slated to follow a key November congress to announce President Jiang Zemin's political future.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said the two sides were still working to confirm details of the visit.

"We believe this visit will be a very important visit and very fruitful visit," Kong told a news conference.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said Sunday that Jiang would meet Putin during the Dec. 1-3 visit.

He called the visit the most important event of the year in Chinese-Russian relations.

Tang and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov agreed on the visit while meeting on the sidelines of a United Nations session, the Xinhua news agency said.

Editor Gets 2 Years

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- A Minsk court has sentenced a Belarussian journalist to two years in internal exile for slandering the president -- a verdict that media freedom advocates denounced as political repression.

The charges were based on an article that journalist Viktor Ivashkevich, chief editor of the independent newspaper Rabochiy, wrote a year ago. Titled "Thieves Should Sit in Jail," the article alleged that President Alexander Lukashenko had received illegal income from selling arms and exploiting the Russia-Belarus customs union to smuggle goods.

The article came out during the presidential election campaign last September, but authorities seized 39,000 issues of the edition before it hit newsstands.

Ivashkevich's supporters greeted the sentence Monday with cries of "Shame!" and "No to repression!"

"This is a politically motivated sentence," Ivashkevich said, adding that state officials participating in the trial could not disprove a single fact from his article.

Zhanna Litvina, the president of the Belarussian Association of Journalists, called the sentence "another threat to the entire Belarussian independent media."

Ivashkevich's attorney, Tatyana Stankevich, said she would file an appeal within 10 days.

Skinhead Killing Film

ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) -- Police said they had recovered a videotape on which a skinhead teenager filmed fellow gang members bludgeoning to death an Azeri trader on a St. Petersburg street.

Mamed Mamedov, a father of eight who was selling watermelons from a street tent, died in a pool of blood Friday after a gang of some 30 young people attacked him with iron bars.

St. Petersburg police initially denied television reports that Mamedov died at the hands of neo-Nazis and that a gang member had filmed the murder. They said the killing was the result of a banal quarrel.

On Monday, they admitted it was a hate crime.

"Yes, the tape shows it all, the faces, who was beating and where," a spokesman said. "Yes, they call themselves skinheads."

He did not say how police obtained the tape.