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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Aid Worker Still Alive

MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan (AP) -- A Dutch humanitarian worker who was abducted in Dagestan seven months ago is alive, a regional police official said Wednesday, while the organization employing the victim accused authorities of obstructing resolution of the case.

Adilgerey Magomedtagirov, the interior minister of Dagestan, said the results of the investigation so far indicated that Arjan Erkel is alive, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported.

Erkel, 33, was abducted in August while heading the Northern Caucasus mission of Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders.

Erkel is the second employee of the group to be taken hostage in the area. Magomedtagirov said investigators did not know where Erkel was being kept, but expect the abductors to try to make contact shortly, Interfax reported.

Doctors Without Borders said authorities had not provided any information to them about possible motives for the kidnapping or the direction the investigation was taking and had turned down repeated requests for a meeting with representatives of President Vladimir Putin.

Nazdratenko's Time Up

MOSCOW (MT) -- Yevgeny Nazdratenko, suspended head of the State Fisheries Committee, urged the Cabinet to make his suspension permanent or reinstate him, Interfax reported.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov last month suspended Nazdratenko, whose battles with far eastern governors over the distribution of quotas had paralyzed the fishing industry.

Nazdratenko maintains there was no reason for his suspension, which expires Thursday, Interfax reported him as saying.

He said he does not rule out bringing his case before a court.

300th Birthday Closure

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- The airport handling domestic traffic for St. Petersburg will be closed to regular flights from May 30 to June 1 to accommodate the arrival and departure of more than 40 official delegations expected to visit the city for its 300th birthday celebration and a Group of Eight meeting.

Natalia Sidorenkova, a Pulkovo spokeswoman, said Wednesday that the Transport Ministry had not made any changes yet to the flight schedule of Pulkovo II airport, which serves international flights.

Sidorenkova said the canceling of domestic flights from Pulkovo I would apparently entail financial losses to the air companies using the airport, though she had no estimate.

"In any case, we have to accept it, since it will be the city's big holiday," she said.

Luzhkov Preparing

MOSCOW (MT) -- Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has merged the city press services and appointed his personal spokesman, Sergei Tsoi, as its head, Gazeta newspaper reported Wednesday.

The paper suggested that the move signified the beginning of Luzhkov's election campaign for a third term. The mayoral election is scheduled for December 2003.

Also on Wednesday, the State Duma rejected an initiative of the liberal Union of Right Forces, or SPS, to limit the terms for regional heads to two, Interfax reported.

The existing law permits third and fourth terms for the heads of 52 regions.