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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Iran Nuclear Project

MOSCOW (AP) -- Some 600 Russian specialists began work Sunday on a key phase of the $800 million project to build a nuclear reactor in Iran, a deal that has drawn strong U.S. criticism.

"We have reached the stage of assembling our reactor and the turbine," said Viktor Kozlov, managing director of Atomstroiexport, Itar-Tass reported.

Kozlov said that as construction of the nuclear plant in Iran enters its final stage, "the number of Russian specialists will rise and will reach 2,000 people by year's end," he said.

The Kremlin has floated preliminary plans to help Iran build another five nuclear reactors over the next 10 years.

Metro Attack

MOSCOW (MT) -- A U.S. Embassy librarian was attacked in the Moscow metro on Saturday evening, Interfax reported Sunday.

Murdoch Lucas, a 23-year-old African-American, was attacked as the train was running between the Teatralnaya and Tverskaya stops, the report said. Two unidentified men hit him in the face several times and fled when the train arrived at the next stop, Moscow police told Interfax. The police have opened an investigation.

Murdoch reportedly sought medical care at the European Medical Center, which would not provide any information about his condition on Sunday.

No one at the U.S. Embassy could be reached Sunday.

Tatar Official Killed

MOSCOW (AP) -- Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a local official in Tatarstan, said Radik Mullaakhmetov, a spokesman for the republic's Interior Ministry.

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons opened fire on Rafis Sayetovon, a district administration chief, near his home in the village of Nizhneye Kuchkovo on Friday night, Mullaakhmetov said Saturday.

Police are investigating. Sayetovon, a former businessman, was elected to his post earlier this year, Itar-Tass reported.

Crashed Plane Found

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Rescue teams recovered the bodies of 16 people on Friday from the wreckage of a twin-prop An-28 that crashed in a remote region of the Far East, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The plane disappeared Thursday shortly before it was due to land in the town of Ayan in the Khabarovsk region.

A ministry spokesman said the plane was carrying 14 passengers and two crew. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Russian television reports said the dead included two children and one Japanese national. Three of the bodies were burned and not yet identified.

7 Russians Held

MOSCOW (AP) -- A total of seven Russians are among the alleged Taliban and al-Qaida fighters being held at the U.S. naval detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Vladimir Rudyak, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office.

The Prosecutor General's Office acquired the information through diplomatic channels and is investigating, Rudyak said Saturday. He gave no other details.

Russian officials had earlier reported that three Russians were among the hundreds of detainees at Guantanamo.

WWII Shell Kills 3

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- A World War II tank shell found in a field in southern Russia exploded Friday, killing three people and injuring two when mechanics tried to dismantle it at a tractor repair shop, authorities said.

An agricultural specialist found the 40-millimeter shell in a farm field in the Stavropol region and brought it to the repair shop, where it exploded as mechanics were taking it apart, said Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Lemeshev, an official in the local branch of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

Putin on Headscarves

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- President Vladimir Putin on Friday backed a decision by a top court in Tatarstan to refuse Muslim women the right to cover their hair for passport photographs.

The republic's supreme court last week denied Muslim women the right to be photographed in headscarves, in accordance with religious custom.

"Regarding documents, we have standards that apply to the entire country and all ethnic groups and we should stick to them," Putin was quoted by Interfax as saying at the end of a two-day visit to Tatarstan.

Also during his visit, Putin told the Tatar congress the state would not interfere in religious affairs, Interfax reported. "We must not tell religious figures what to do, who to choose and how to form associations," he said.

Iraqi Delegation

MOSCOW (NYT) -- On Monday, the Iraqi foreign minister, Naji Sabri Ahmad al-Hadithi, is scheduled to arrive in Moscow for two days of meetings with his Russian counterpart, Igor Ivanov, and other senior officials.

Russian officials said the visit could end with the signing of a 10-year, $40 billion plan to expand economic investment between the two countries.

Although the plan has been in the works for two years, Iraqi officials seem eager to close the deal -- if only to bolster international opposition to U.S. efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein.