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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

EU Media Warning

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union warned Moscow on Monday that recent actions against the news media could make neighborly relations difficult.

The statement calling for "measures to support and strengthen the plurality and independence of the media" was issued on behalf of more than 30 countries by Italy, which has just taken over the rotating EU presidency.

The EU statement expressed "concern" about the June 22 closure of TVS television. It also expressed "hopes" that any changes to Russia's media law "will not constrain the ability of journalists to report fully and accurately on the upcoming Duma and presidential elections." The State Duma last month passed a bill that would give authorities the right to shut down any news outlet during an election campaign if it violates election laws.

Sport Seals Status

MOSCOW (MT) -- A shareholder of Sport, the state-controlled station that last month replaced TVS on channel 6, said Monday it has struck a deal to buy a 75 percent stake in Boris Berezovsky's MNVK.

The agreement seals the rights of the all-sports station to keep broadcasting on the channel.

MNVK holds the broadcasting license for channel 6 -- even though the Press Ministry pulled the plug on its TV6 television last year.

The ministry later held a tender and awarded TVS with a temporary permit for the channel. MNVK was challenging that decision in court until Monday.

In announcing the stake acquisition Monday, shareholder Rosmediacom did not disclose any details of the deal. Rosmediacom is owned by three state-controlled companies: Vneshtorgbank, Sberbank and the All-Russian State Television and Radio Co., or VGTRK. Sport's other shareholders are the State Sports Committee, the Moscow city government and VGTRK.

MNVK board member Igor Shabdurasolov said late last month that his company was in talks to sell the 75 percent stake to Sport.

The Press Ministry replaced TVS with Sport last month, saying it had been forced to act due to TVS's financial problems. Critics called the decision illegal and accused the Kremlin of closing the last national private station so as to gain full control of the airwaves ahead of parliamentary elections in December and the presidential vote in March.

McDonald's Scare

MOSCOW (MT) -- The McDonald's restaurant on Pushkin Square was evacuated Monday after a bomb threat that turned out to be false, Interfax reported.

Ambulances and fire trucks rushed to the restaurant after the police received the phoned-in threat at 11:35 a.m. The police gave the building the all-clear an hour later.

Chopper Shot Down?

MOSCOW (AP) -- An Mi-8 military helicopter that crashed in Chechnya, killing five soldiers and injuring 10 others, could have been brought down by gunfire, local media reported Monday.

The helicopter crashed Sunday in the Kurchaloi region south of Gudermes, Chechnya's second-largest city. Preliminary reports suggested a technical failure was to blame, but Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying several dozen bullet holes were found in the crash debris. Itar-Tass said a burst of gunfire hit the tail of the helicopter, severing the control cable and bringing it to the ground.