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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Taimyr Poll Held

MOSCOW (MT) -- Norilsk mayor and one-time Norilsk Nickel official Oleg Budargin has been elected the new governor of the resource-rich Taimyr autonomous district, Interfax reported Monday.

After a preliminary vote count, Budargin took 69 percent of the vote, local election official Yekaterina Guzhavina was quoted as saying. The second-place candidate, Gennady Subbotkin, a city councilman from Taimyr's capital, Dudinka, won only 7 percent.

Budargin is the former personnel chief of the Norilsk Mining Co., a subsidiary of the area's largest company, Norilsk Nickel. The metals giant is based in the city of Norilsk, which is administratively part of the neighboring Krasnoyarsk region but pays huge royalties to the sparsely populated Taimyr district for use of its territory.

The elections were called last fall after Taimyr's previous governor, former Norilsk Nickel director Alexander Khloponin, won the gubernatorial seat in Krasnoyarsk.

Krasnoyarsk Verdict

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Krasnoyarsk regional court ruled Monday to disband the local elections commission, saying it committed grave procedural violations when it declared the results of September's gubernatorial poll invalid, Interfax reported.

The high-profile election caused a stir last fall when Alexander Khloponin, a former metals executive and governor of the neighboring Taimyr region, won more votes than his main opponent, regional legislative assembly Speaker Alexander Uss, but the regional elections commission annulled the vote, forcing President Vladimir Putin to step in and appoint Khloponin governor pending a legal resolution.

The lawsuit against the commission was filed by the Central Election Commission in December.

The regional commission's lawyer, Alexander Shemelev, said he would appeal the court's decision within the next week, Interfax reported.

RIA Exec Named

MOSCOW (MT) -- A public relations executive who once worked for Vladimir Gusinsky's Media-MOST holding was appointed the new head of the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency Friday.

Svetlana Mironyuk, 34, who was first vice president of Sergei Zverev's CROS PR firm for the last three years, replaces Alexei Zhidakov. Zhidakov will become Press Minister Mikhail Lesin's adviser, according to sources at the Press Ministry.

RIA Novosti is part of the VGTRK holding of state-owned television and radio companies, and VGTRK head Oleg Dobrodeyev and Lesin thanked Zhidakov on Friday for his service to RIA.

From 1992 to 2000, Mironyuk worked at Gusinsky's MOST Group and then at Media-MOST as deputy head of the public relations department.

Afghan Heroin Seized

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (Reuters) -- Russian border guards seized 113 kilograms of heroin on the Tajik-Afghan border Monday and said an anticipated flood of drugs from Afghanistan was becoming a reality.

A spokesman for the guards, responsible for patrolling 1,300 kilometers of the 1,400-kilometer-long border, said they opened fire on a group of smugglers, who escaped back to Afghanistan in a rubber boat across the Pyandzh river.

No one was injured, but the smugglers left behind four sacks of heroin.

Over the weekend, a further 16 kilograms of heroin and 200 kilograms of raw opium, from which heroin is derived, were seized on the frontier, taking total drug seizures in Tajikistan this year to 450 kilograms, of which more than half was heroin.

"Unfortunately, our forecast that the flow of narcotics from Afghanistan would increase in view of the huge harvest of opium poppies last summer is beginning to be proved correct," the border guards spokesman said.

Chechen Diaspora

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Jordanian Chechens have distanced themselves from political tensions in their native Chechnya and do not finance separatists there, a Jordanian Chechen leader said Sunday.

Sameeh Bino, who heads a committee representing Jordan's 80,000-strong Chechen community, said the message of Jordan's Caucasian diaspora was relayed to the pro-Moscow head of the Chechen administration, Akhmad Kadyrov, during a meeting Saturday.

"We don't have any contacts either with Chechen rebels or the Moscow-backed Chechen administration because we are Jordanians," Bino said. "We have distanced ourselves from the source of the conflict, and what we do is simply charity to our people."

Kadyrov's administration claims that money raised by Chechens in the diaspora under the pretext of charity is channeled to Chechen rebels.

Kadyrov arrived in Jordan on Friday on the first leg of a tour that also takes him to Libya. He is trying to rally support for Russia's position in the Chechen conflict.

Probe Goes to Belarus

KIEV (AP) -- Ukrainian journalists left for Belarus on Monday to investigate the death of a prominent news agency director, a top media rights group said.

The journalists, including members of the League of Independent Journalists, want to investigate a sputtering official probe into the death of Mykhailo Kolomiyets, former director of the Ukrainian News Agency, said Lala Kemularya of the Institute for Mass Information, which represents the international media rights group Reporters Without Borders in Ukraine.

The trip is expected to take about one week.

Kolomiyets' body was found hanging from a tree outside the Belarus capital Minsk in October.

For the Record

Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council's international affairs committee, was Monday elected deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Ekho Moskvy radio reported. (MT)

Moscow is setting up an experimental migration inspectorate that will cooperate with the police in preventing illegal migration to the capital, Interfax reported Monday. The inspection will employ some 100 to 150 police officers and will conduct regular checks at companies and firms known to use foreign workers, said Vladimir Volokh, deputy head of the migration control department of the Interior Ministry's Federal Migration Service. (MT)