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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

No-Confidence Vote

MOSCOW (MT) -- The liberal Yabloko party is teaming up with the Communists to initiate a no-confidence vote in the government in the State Duma, Itar-Tass reported Tuesday.

The two parties plan to submit the paperwork for the vote to the Duma Council next Tuesday, Communist official Sergei Reshulsky told Itar-Tass. The council decides the agenda for Duma sessions.

The initiative by the two parties "is only a tactical union prompted by the realization of where the current government's policy is taking the country," Reshulsky was quoted as saying.

The Communists and Yabloko will have to collect 90 signatures to get the Duma to vote on the proposal, while 226 votes in the 450-seat house will be needed to pass it.

Itar-Tass quoted Duma sources as saying the vote was unlikely to pass and that it appeared to be a populist measure in an election year.

500 Deported

MOSCOW (MT) -- Some 500 Chinese and Vietnamese citizens have been deported from Moscow because of concerns over the spread of the deadly SARS virus, police chief Vladimir Pronin said Tuesday.

Pronin also said at a City Hall meeting that prostitutes should be deported as a way to combat the spread of the HIV virus, Interfax reported.

Suit Over Chechnya

MOSCOW (MT) -- The families of three telecommunications engineers who were kidnapped and later executed in Chechnya went to court Tuesday to seek more than ?1 million ($1.63 million) in compensation from their loved ones' former employers, Granger Telecom, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

The families of Darren Hickey, Rudi Petschi and Stan Shaw claim in their lawsuit that Granger Telecom was grossly negligent in sending the men to Grozny in September 1998, the newspaper said.

Granger sent British citizens Hickey, 26, and Petschi, 42, and Shaw, 58, of New Zealand to set up a radio telephone system in Chechnya.

The men were kidnapped in Grozny on Oct. 3, 1998, along with British engineer Peter Kennedy, 46, who was working for British Telecom. His family is not involved in the lawsuit.

The four men were beheaded after a failed rescue attempt.

"The families allege that Granger's action in sending the men to what was, and still is, widely recognized as one of the most dangerous places in the world for Westerners was, in the circumstances, grossly negligent," a spokesman for the families' lawyer told The Guardian.

The court hearing is expected to last seven days, the report said.

2,000 Convictions

MOSCOW (AP) -- Some 2,000 servicemen were convicted of hazing last year, Chief Military Prosecutor Alexander Savenkov said Tuesday.

Hazing accounted for 15 percent of all crimes in the armed forces last year, Savenkov told reporters.

Out of last year's 2,000 convicted servicemen, 300 were officers while the rest were older soldiers abusing fresh conscripts, Savenkov said.

Savenkov said hazing has become widespread because of the worsening quality of draftees -- many of whom are illiterate, suffer from malnutrition or have criminal records. Another reason is the lack of any preventive campaigns within the armed forces, he said.

Savenkov also blasted corruption in the conscription system, saying it amounted to "betrayal of the armed forces." Last year, prosecutors filed 25 criminal cases against officers involved in conscription who sought to illegally profit from their service, Savenkov said.

In one of the cases, the chief of a conscription office in Moscow extorted a $2,500 bribe from the mother of a conscript in exchange for exempting him from the draft, the prosecutor said. He pressed for the bribe even after doctors found that the conscript was not fit for service, Savenkov said.

Actor Matveyev Dead

MOSCOW (AP) -- Yevgeny Matveyev, whose career as a film actor and director spanned 40 years, has died at age 81, news agencies reported.

Matveyev was particularly well-known for his role as Leonid Brezhnev in 1977's "Soldati Svobodi" (Soldiers of Freedom), about the World War II battle of Malaya Zemlya, which Brezhnev as Soviet leader portrayed as one of the war's major clashes.

Matveyev's last film was 1995's "Lyubit Po-Russki" (To Love in Russian), which he directed.

He died Sunday in Moscow after an unspecified illness and was to be buried Wednesday in the Novodevichye Cemetery, where many of Russia's most renowned cultural and political figures are buried.

"He created an unforgettable image of a Russian man -- strong, handsome and a genuine patriot of his country," Itar-Tass said in a summary of his career.

Paper Back on Streets

MINSK, Belarus (Reuters) -- An opposition newspaper suspended by Belarussian authorities hit the streets Tuesday under a new title, and its editor vowed to continue work.

The government halted publication of Belarusskaya Delovaya Gazeta for three months last week after accusing the publisher of printing secrets in a high-profile criminal case against businessman Mikhail Leonov, a critic of President Alexander Lukashenko. The move drew an outcry over media freedoms.

On Tuesday, the opposition weekly Solidarnost published articles from the suspended newspaper and called the new edition Solidarnost s Belarusskoi Delovoi Gazetoi, or Solidarity with the Belarussian Business Newspaper.

Gay Man in Pageant

MOSCOW (MT) -- A gay man from Nizhny Novgorod has entered a beauty pageant to "show off his assets," the news agency reported.

Hairdresser Mikhail Morozov, 24, said he wanted to take part in Nizhny Novgorod's upcoming beauty pageant because there are no similar contests for men.

"I want to show off my physical assets. I'm not afraid of competing with girls," he was quoted by as saying.

Morozov's application has been accepted, and he says he will open Russia's first beauty salon with an all-gay staff if he wins.

Russia Adds Teenager

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian national soccer team coach Valery Gazzayev said Monday he is adding 17-year-old goalkeeper Igor Akinfeyev to the team for Saturday's Euro 2004 qualifier against Switzerland.

Gazzayev said he decided to add Akinfeyev after his performance for CSKA Moscow in a 2-0 win over Krylya Sovietov in Samara over the weekend, Itar-Tass reported. Gazzayev is also the coach of CSKA.

Russia, which is in second place in Group 10 behind Switzerland, has suffered two embarrassing losses -- to Albania and Georgia -- in qualifiers this year.