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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Lukashenko Upbeat

MOSCOW (AP) -- Visiting Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday he was hopeful about a planned union between Belarus and Russia, despite economic disagreements that have stalled the plan.

Opening a meeting of the union's State Council in Moscow with President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko said there were "serious and objective" obstacles to building the union.

"At times, it is difficult to find a solution, but we will find one," he said.

Lukashenko and then-President Boris Yeltsin signed a union treaty in 1996.

Lukashenko said he and Putin would focus on the union's budget and on coordinating foreign policy.

Putin said he wanted to see "firmer parameters" for the 2004 budget.

Police Official Killed

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Southern Russia (AP) -- Masked assailants gunned down a senior police official in Chechnya, police said Tuesday.

Two gunmen wearing masks and camouflage opened fire Monday on a car carrying Zhelaudi Mezhiyev, deputy chief of the investigative department of the North Caucasus branch of the Interior Ministry, in Grozny, Chechen police spokesman Ruslan Atsayev said.

Mezhiyev died of his wounds in a hospital, Atsayev said.

Chemical Weapons

MOSCOW (AP) -- The government's draft budget for 2004 earmarks only half the funds needed for chemical weapons disposal, and the shortfall threatens further delays in the disposal of the world's largest chemical stockpile, a senator said Tuesday.

Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense and security committee in the Federation Council, said the draft budget allocates 5.36 billion rubles ($179 million) for chemical weapons, while 11.58 billion rubles are required.

The program has been underfunded for the past several years, and the shortfall is expected to total more than 60 percent by 2004, Ozerov said.

As a result, Russia will not be able to live up to its most recent pledge to dispose of 20 percent of its chemical weapons by 2007.

Reactor Facility

MOSCOW (AP) -- An agreement signed last week calls for Germany to help Russia build a long-tern storage facility for 120 reactors removed from decommissioned nuclear submarines, Interfax reported.

"If we sign contracts on this project in the coming months, the construction work may start before the year's end," Deputy Nuclear Power Minister Sergei Antipov said Monday.

Antipov said the construction of the facility at Saida Bay in the Murmansk region could take four to five years and that its cost was estimated at 200 million euros to 300 million euros ($235 million to $350 million). The reactors must be stored for 50 to 70 years, he said.

Pants Blow Up Home

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- A Moscow resident may wish he had stuck with having dirty pants after an imaginative attempt to purge a stubborn paint stain on them destroyed his apartment.

The unidentified man added a liter of gasoline to his washing machine to help dissolve the stain, but the ensuing explosion wrecked his kitchen and demolished two internal walls, Itar-Tass reported Monday.

Moscow police confirmed there had been an explosion in a southeastern Moscow apartment, but would not comment on the cause.

Foreign Players Limit

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia will introduce a limit on foreign players in the Premier League from 2005, the country's soccer chief said Tuesday.

"Most major football nations have some sort of a limit on foreign players, and I think we should follow in the same direction beginning in 2005," said Vyacheslav Koloskov, president of the Russian Football Union.

Koloskov said existing players' contracts have made it impossible to introduce the new law right away.

"But we'll go ahead with it in 2005, and I think the limit will be a maximum of five [foreign] players per team to be on the field at the same time," he said.

The Russian Premier League has no limit on foreign players at the moment, while teams in the first division are allowed to field three foreigners at the same time.

Earlier this year, Premier League struggler Torpedo-Metallurg Moscow became the first Russian club to field a starting 11 entirely made up of foreign players.

Meanwhile, the influx of foreign players, mostly from Africa and Latin America, in recent years has been heavily criticized by various Russian soccer officials and the media.

"Most of all, it should help our national team," Koloskov said when asked if the move to reduce foreign labor would help Russian soccer.