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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Air Crash Probe Ends

KIEV (AP) -- Ukrainian investigators completed their probe into the world's deadliest air show crash, bringing the case a step closer to trial, the prosecutor general said Friday.

Sviatoslav Piskun was quoted by Interfax as saying his office had concluded the investigation into the crash of an Su-27 jet fighter at an air show in the western city of Lviv last July that killed at least 76 people and injured scores more. The pilots ejected and survived.

The 12 people charged in the case, including the pilots and top air force brass, were reviewing the results of Piskun's investigation before the case goes to trial, Interfax said.

Berlusconi to Visit

MOSCOW (AP) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will make a working visit to Moscow on Monday at President Vladimir Putin's invitation, the Kremlin said.

Berlusconi, who has a friendly relationship with Putin, last traveled to Moscow in October.

Kursk Fuel Unloaded

MOSCOW (AP) -- Workers unsealed a reactor of the ruined Kursk nuclear submarine and began unloading fuel late last week, Interfax reported.

Navy specialists destroyed the reactor's lid late Wednesday, Rostislav Rimdenok, head of the Nerpa shipyard in the town of Snezhnogorsk in the Murmansk region, told Interfax.

"This operation, the same as unloading used nuclear fuel, is the most dangerous phase in the disposal of nuclear submarines," Rimdenok said.

The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea in August 2000 after a torpedo exploded on board. All 118 men on board were killed.

FSB Praised

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin on Friday praised the Federal Security Service for what he described as a valuable contribution to the global fight against terrorism and urged it to further develop cooperation with foreign counterparts.

"The Federal Security Service last year achieved evident successes in cooperation with our partners in the anti-terror coalition," Putin said at a meeting with FSB officials.

Without giving details, he said the FSB had "accumulated ample experience in coordinating operative and information work" with foreign partners, Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

U.S. Aid Withheld

WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. President George W. Bush's administration has decided to withhold $34 million in promised aid to the Ukrainian government after accusing President Leonid Kuchma of approving the sale of a radar system to Iraq, a U.S. official said Friday.

Most or all the money will be redirected to nongovernmental groups in Ukraine, said the official, who asked not to be identified. The total aid program for Ukraine is about $150 million. Left untouched by the decision are military-to-military and programs to prevent nuclear proliferation.

5th Kaspiisk Suspect

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan (AP) -- A fifth suspect in a bomb attack that killed 43 people in Dagestan last year has been detained, police officials said Saturday.

The suspect, identified as Magomed Abasilov, was arrested on Friday in the Dagestani town of Khasavyurt for his possible role in the blast in the city of Kaspiisk that ripped through a military parade last May 9.

Khabib Magomedov, a spokesman for the Dagestani Interior Ministry, said that 400 grams of dynamite, electrical detonators, a hand grenade and a land mine were found in the man's house.

The detention of Abasilov, 29, was the fifth in the criminal case opened into the blast, Magomedov said. Eight other suspects, including local warlord Rappani Khalilov, who was suspected of masterminding the blast, are on federal and international wanted lists, he said.

Plant for Debts?

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) -- Armenia may hand over control of its Medzamor nuclear power plant to Russia as part of a scheme to settle unpaid debts, officials said Friday.

Armenian Energy Minister Armen Movsisian said officials from both countries will meet next month to discuss the possibility of giving Russian nuclear officials management control over Medzamor to settle Armenia's unpaid debts for Russian fuel supplies.

The plant owes Russia $30 million for shipments of nuclear fuel and could amass debts of $40 million by the end of the year, said Luzine Arutyunian, a spokeswoman for the Armenian Energy Ministry.

New Code Kicks In

MOSCOW (MT) -- The new Civil Procedural Code, a plank in the liberalization of the justice system, came into force Saturday.

The code, signed by President Vladimir Putin in November, gives witnesses the right not to incriminate themselves in civil suits and sets deadlines for what otherwise might prove to be drawn-out trials. Judges must make rulings within two months and magistrates within one month.

Kremlin Goes Volga

MOSCOW (MT) -- The Kremlin's property department announced Sunday that it will stop purchasing foreign-assembled vehicles for federal officials.

Officials instead will get Volga sedans and BMWs and Fords assembled in Kaliningrad and the Leningrad region, respectively, department spokesman Viktor Khrekov told Interfax.

He said the department has a fleet of 3,000 cars of 10 different makes. He said 2,000 of them will be phased out and replaced with Volgas, BMWs and Fords.

'U.S. Meddling'

MINSK, Belarus (AP) -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Friday accused the U.S. ambassador of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

"Recently, one ambassador went to Gomel, interfered in internal affairs, nearly held elections. We cannot tolerate this," Lukashenko said at a news conference.

U.S. Ambassador Michael Kozak traveled Wednesday to the southeastern city of Gomel, where he signed an agreement on U.S. assistance for the restoration of the 190-year-old building housing the region's hospital. He also visited the office of a Gomel political movement and met with candidates in local elections.