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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chopper Crash Firings

MOSCOW (AP) -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Saturday disciplined 20 senior officers for negligence and breach of instructions in connection with last month's crash of a military transport helicopter, shot down by rebels in Chechnya.

At least 119 people died, when the Mi-26 helicopter was downed by a shoulder-fired missile as it was preparing to land at a military base. The helicopter, equipped for carrying 80 troops, was carrying 147 people.

Ivanov said he reprobated Colonel-General Nikolai Kormiltsev, the land forces commander, Colonel-General Gennady Troshev, Lieutenant-General Sergei Makarov, the chief military commander in Chechnya, and other senior generals. Additionally, Ivanov said he accepted the resignation of army aviation chief Colonel-General Vitaly Pavlov, and fired several colonels.

Lukashenko Says No

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Saturday accused President Vladimir Putin of trying to destroy efforts to unite the two countries and said he would not be responding to Putin's surprise integration proposal.

Putin, previously skeptical about a union, put forward two proposals during an Aug. 14 meeting with Lukashenko in Moscow -- but neither appears to offer Belarus the political clout that it had hoped for.

"If the Russian government wants to denounce the union agreement, to destroy it, let them destroy it -- but without us," Lukashenko said.

Seleznyov's New Party

MOSCOW (AP) -- State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov, who was expelled from the Communist Party in June, created the Party of Russia's Revival on Saturday.

Seleznyov said the new political party was an answer to "a complex process of abandonment of old dogmas, and a search for new paths toward democracy and justice," Interfax reported.

He said it would aim to represent the working people of Russia and would seek to form a broad membership base.

Emergency Landing

MOSCOW (AP) -- A Sibir passenger jet bound for Germany made an emergency landing Saturday in western Siberia after problems with its left engine, officials said.

The Tu-204 landed safely at the Omsk airport and there were no injuries, local emergency officials said.

The plane, which was carrying 152 passengers and 23 crew members, had taken off from Novosibirsk for Hannover, Germany.

But shortly after takeoff, the pilot asked for permission to make an emergency landing at the nearest airport after a gage showed that oil pressure in the left engine was dropping.

Balloon Scare

MOSCOW (AP) -- Officers of an anti-missile unit in the Kaliningrad exclave alerted gunners to be ready to shoot down a missile after they detected a violation of Russian airspace Saturday, but then found the intruding object was a balloon launched by a nearby town as part of a municipal celebration, Interfax reported.

Officers also put Su-27 fighter-interceptor planes on high alert after the mysterious object was detected.

But the invader was found to be a large balloon launched by the town of Sovietsk as part of its town day festivities, Interfax said.