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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

25,000 Passports Seized

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) -- Georgian authorities confiscated 25,000 blank Russian passports Wednesday printed in the Russian and Abkhaz languages from a Turkish ship sailing on the Black Sea.

The ship was sailing from the Turkish port of Trabzon to Sochi when stopped by the Georgian coast guard, the head of the coast guard's border patrol department, Koba Bochorishvili, told Georgia's Rustavi 2 television.

Georgian officials have repeatedly complained to Russia about its practice of issuing passports to Abkhaz separatists. The Georgian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it would investigate whether there was official Russian involvement with the passports.

Chechnya Campaign

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Chechen elections committee on Wednesday declared the launch of the presidential campaign and said it would start accepting petitions from potential candidates.

Those hoping to run must submit at least 10,000 signatures supporting their candidacy, Interfax reported. The vote will be held Oct. 5.

Chicken Scare

MOSCOW (AP) -- More than 120 patients and staff at a Siberian hospital have contracted salmonella and traces of the bacteria have been found in frozen U.S. and Brazilian chicken at the food company that supplies the hospital, health inspectors said Wednesday.

The infections hit patients and workers at the hospital in Ulan Ude after eating in the hospital's canteen.

Investigators said that sanitary conditions in the canteen were in gross violation of food storage and preparation regulations. Bacterial tests on food from the wholesaler that supplies the hospital found traces of salmonella on frozen chicken imported from the United States and Brazil, they said.

Afghan Minister Visits

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's defense minister left Kabul on Wednesday for a three-day visit to Russia, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin.

Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim also will meet Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and other senior officials, said General Mir Jan, in charge of foreign relations at the Afghan Defense Ministry.

Embassy Vandal

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) -- A Swedish man armed with an ax broke into the Russian Embassy in Stockholm and destroyed some furniture, an embassy spokesman said Wednesday. No one was injured.

"We have no idea how he got in," spokesman Sergei Petrovich said. "He did not try to attack anybody."

After stealing a cellphone, the 37-year-old man made off in one of the embassy's cars and rammed the gates to get out of the compound. He was arrested Tuesday night, police spokeswoman Ingalill Fransson said.

Police said the suspect was a Swedish citizen with a criminal record.

Berlusconi Rebuffed

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- European Union officials made clear Wednesday that the EU was not about to shift policy to allow Israel and Russia to apply for membership, despite suggestions by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that the two should be allowed in.

EU External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten and Enlargement Commissioner G?nter Verheugen said EU policy toward Israel and Russia was well known and did not involve proposals to invite them to join.

Chelsea Coach Worried

LONDON (Reuters) -- Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri wants talks with the Premier League club's new owner Roman Abramovich about his future with the club, according to newspaper reports on Wednesday.

The Italian, who steered the London club into next season's Champions League, said he was concerned after England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson was photographed entering the London house of the Russian tycoon.

"I still haven't seen the photos and neither do I know why they met. In any case, I don't like this story and other ones appearing in the papers at all," Ranieri told the Daily Mirror.

"They cause doubts about my work here and it isn't good for the atmosphere at the club.

"I'm going to ask for face-to-face talks with Abramovich as quickly as possible. There are a lot of things which need to be cleared up."

Kournikova Injured

TORONTO (AP) -- Anna Kournikova withdrew Tuesday from the AT&T Cup tennis tournament in August due to a back injury.

Even without Kournikova, the field remains star-studded with 19 of the world's top-20 ranked players entered.

The top four players in the world headline the tournament, which begins Aug. 9 at the National Tennis Center. Wimbledon champion Serena Williams heads the field, along with older sister Venus, No. 4 in the rankings.