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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Banker Murdered

MOSCOW (AP) -- The vice president of Promeximbank, Andrei Ivanov, was found murdered in his apartment, Moscow police said.

A police spokesman, who declined to give his name, said Ivanov's body was found Friday. Ivanov, 41, had suffered a fatal head injury, the spokesman said.

Crimes against businessmen and political figures in Moscow have apparently tapered off since 1991 but still occur frequently.

Former KGB Appeals

MOSCOW (AP) -- Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general who lives in the United States, will appeal his in absentia treason conviction to the presidium of the Supreme Court, his lawyer said.

Last June, the Moscow City Court found Kalugin guilty of giving away state secrets in his 1994 book about his career, "The First Directorate," and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Kalugin's lawyer last September. The lawyer, Yevgeny Baru, said late last week that he intends to file an appeal with the presidium of the Supreme Court.

Kalugin's original trial was conducted hastily before the new Criminal Procedural Code, which prohibits trials in absentia, took effect on July 1 last year.

Ships to Deploy Soon

MOSCOW (AP) -- The military has put a group of warships on notice to be ready to deploy to the Indian Ocean within 10 days of receiving orders, Interfax reported Saturday.

Officials, who announced the naval deployment last month, have said it has nothing to do with the Iraq crisis and repeated that Moscow would not take part in a possible war against Baghdad.

However, Interfax quoted an unnamed navy official as saying the leadership would make a "political decision" about the date of the deployment and linked the timing to developments in Iraq.

The navy and Defense Ministry had no comment on the report Saturday. Officials have said that 10 warships will demonstrate the Russian flag and visit the ports of friendly countries.

Channel 1 Change

MOSCOW (MT) -- Channel One deputy general director Alexander Lyubimov resigned Friday, Kommersant reported.

"This was his decision. I am sorry that he made it," the newspaper quoted the channel's general director, Konstantin Ernst, as saying.

A source close to Channel One said it was likely Lyubimov had quit because he was waiting to be offered a position in the government. The source hinted that the former talk show host might replace Press Minister Mikhail Lesin, who recently suffered heart problems.

Lyubimov was the host of Channel One's program "Zdes i Seychas," or "Here and Now," when he took the position of deputy general director in March 2001.

4 Homeless Murdered

MOSCOW (AP) -- Police in the Arctic city of Murmansk have detained three teenagers on suspicion of killing four homeless people whose bodies were found in a single day, Itar-Tass reported.

The bodies of the homeless people, who the report suggested were men, were found Thursday in Murmansk, Itar-Tass said. Police said the suspects, who were high-school students ranging in age from 14 to 16, admitted that they had been extorting money out of the homeless people, the agency reported.

Military Contracts

MOSCOW (AP) -- Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reaffirmed plans Friday to recruit the core of the armed forces on a contract basis instead of by conscription by the end of 2007, saying a program to switch to a largely contract military will be finalized by May.

Ivanov said the shift would begin Jan. 1, 2004, and should be completed in four years if the ministry receives the funds necessary to make the change, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported.

He said the shift would apply to Russia's most powerful, high-readiness military units as well as paratroopers, marines, coast guard and naval units, the agencies reported. The changes will also take place "to varying degrees" in the military forces of the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service, he said.

President Vladimir Putin has laid plans to gradually phase out conscription and form a leaner contract military by around 2010.

But Ivanov -- who has faced anger among top brass over the cuts and the cost and speed of the planned transition -- said last fall that the switch would not be total and that "conscription will remain forever."

Kyrgyz Air Base Visit

KANT AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan (AP) -- The head of Russia's air force paid a visit Friday to a Kyrgyz air base set to host Russian warplanes, Moscow's most significant response to the increased U.S. military presence in Central Asia since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Colonel General Vladimir Mikhailov said preparations would be complete by the end of April for Su-25 and Su-27 fighters. Mikhailov declined to say how many of the aircraft would be deployed there but that the number would be "appropriate" for their mission.

The aircraft at Kant are to be part of an anti-terrorism task force under the Collective Security Treaty, whose members include Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

About 200 troops would be initially based at Kant, a number that could rise to between 450 and 500 later, Mikhailov said.

Duma on U.S. Treaty

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Duma's international affairs committee recommended a vote next week on ratification of the nuclear weapons treaty reached by President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush.

Committee chairman Dmitry Rogozin said the treaty would be submitted to the full State Duma March 21 without any suggested alterations, Interfax reported.

The treaty, agreed on last May by Putin and Bush, calls on both nations to cut their strategic nuclear arsenals by about two-thirds, to 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads, by 2012.

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty last week. The Duma's defense committee Thursday urged the 450-seat chamber to ratify it.