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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

SARS Closures

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russia shut down more than half of its border crossings with China and Mongolia on Wednesday in an effort to keep SARS out of the country.

Traffic was suspended at 31 out of more than 50 checkpoints as of midnight, in line with a government order issued in mid-May, the Federal Border Service said.

Turkmenistan Assailed

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Turkmenistan's withdrawal from the countries' dual citizenship agreement was illegal, and it pledged to send a diplomatic team to help protect the rights of Russian citizens there.

Russia considers that the 1993 agreement remains in force despite the Turkmen government's decision to terminate it, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

President Vladimir Putin and Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov agreed to terminate the dual citizenship agreement during a meeting in Moscow in April, but the Foreign Ministry later protested Turkmenistan's decision to abruptly cancel the agreement without waiting for Russian lawmakers to vote on its termination.

Compensation Deal

LONDON (AP) -- The families of three telecommunications engineers who were kidnapped and killed in Chechnya have reached a compensation settlement with the men's employers.

Britons Darren Hickey, 26, and Rudi Petschi, 42, and New Zealander Stanley Shaw, 58, were sent to Chechnya in 1998 by British company Granger Telecom Ltd. to help install a radio telephone system. The men, along with a third Briton, Peter Kennedy, were kidnapped Oct. 3, 1998, and, after talks failed, beheaded.

At the start of what was to be a seven-day hearing Tuesday, lawyers told Judge William Gage that the two sides had reached an agreement, which will not be made public.

Engineer Dies

MOSCOW (AP) -- Alexander Krasovsky, a prominent aerospace engineer, has died of heart attack after burglars locked him up in his apartment and stole his Soviet-era medals, local media reported Wednesday. He was 82.

Krasovsky, a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, had worked at the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy since 1954 and won numerous state decorations for his research in automatic control systems for the aerospace sector.

Baltic Exercises

KALININGRAD, Western Russia (AFP) -- Russia will stage its largest naval exercises in the Baltic Sea in two decades at the end of this month, officials said Wednesday.

The maneuvers will include vessels from both its Baltic and Northern fleets, and they come a month after Russia staged joint naval exercises with India in the Indian Ocean.

Businessman Shot

MOSCOW (AFP) -- The director of the Meyerhold Theater Center, Alfred Lerner, was shot dead outside his home in an apparent contract killing, according to news reports Wednesday.

Lerner, an Azeri, was gunned down by a motorcyclist in broad daylight on Olimpiisky Prospekt on Tuesday.