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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Officer Convicted

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Surgut military court convicted an officer Friday in connection with the death of a Siberian high school student who died while running 10 kilometers in a gas mask.

Alexander Bochanov and other students were participating in a military drill in the Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district under the supervision of Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Zavadsky in September 2003.

Prosecutors said Bochanov was wearing a gas mask during the run, which Zavadsky refused to let him remove. The student then became nauseous, eventually vomiting in his mask and choking to death, prosecutors said.

The court gave Zavadsky a four-year suspended sentence and barred him from holding any job responsible for drilling future conscripts.

New Military Chief

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin named a new ground forces chief and instructed him Friday to form an all-volunteer force in the volatile Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya, by 2007.

Putin appointed Colonel General Alexei Maslov, 51, to succeed General Nikolai Kormiltsev. Maslov had previously served as deputy chief of staff of the North Caucasus Military District.

2 Turks Killed

MOSCOW (AP) -- Federal forces in Chechnya killed two Turkish militants who were fighting alongside Chechen separatists, officials said Friday.

Major General Ilya Shabalkin, a spokesman for the federal troops in Chechnya, identified the two Turks as Kaya Aidyn, 23, and Celebi Burhan, 24.

Shabalkin said in televised remarks that the Turks had been killed on the outskirts of Grozny after a fierce gun battle lasting several hours. He said several other militants might have been killed in the clash, while federal forces suffered no losses.

Authorities found a car filled with radio-controlled explosives near the battle scene and said they believed the Turks were part of a rebel group specializing in bombings, Shabalkin said.

Displaced People

VIENNA (AP) -- Russia should stop pressuring displaced people to return to Chechnya, a UN-sponsored group said in a report released Friday.

Europe has about 3 million internally displaced people -- people who have fled their homes but not crossed any international borders -- the Global IDP Project said. Turkey's displaced population is about 1 million, mostly Kurds who have fled conflict in the country's southeast, said the group created by the Norwegian Refugee Council at the request of the UN. Azerbaijan is home to 575,000 displaced people, while Russia has 360,000, Bosnia has 320,000, Georgia has 260,000, Serbia-Montenegro has 250,000 and Cyprus has 210,000.

The report called on Russia to stop pressuring people to return to Chechnya "until adequate conditions of physical, material and legal safety are created."

Launch Postponed

MOSCOW (AP) -- The first launch of a new booster rocket was postponed again Saturday because of technical problems, Interfax reported.

The launch of the Soyuz-2 booster from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the Far North was put off indefinitely "due to the need to continue testing its systems and remedy the defects that were uncovered earlier," the Space Forces said, Interfax reported.

It was the second time the launch had been postponed. A planned Oct. 29 launch was rescheduled after officials found a software flaw.

Minibus Crash Kills 9

MOSCOW (AP) -- A trailer broke off a truck and slammed into a minibus Friday on a southern highway, killing nine people, emergency officials said.

Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said the accident happened about three kilometers from Stavropol. The nine dead were all passengers of the minibus, Beltsov said.

Kolchak Monument

MOSCOW (AP) -- A monument to Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who fought against the Red Army and was executed by Bolsheviks, was unveiled in Irkutsk late last week.

The 5-meter-tall sculpture of Kolchak of the White Guard movement was erected near the site where he was executed, Itar-Tass said.

Kolchak was a prominent polar explorer who also fought in the Russo-Japanese War in the early 1900s and in World War I. He led the forces opposing the Bolsheviks in the Civil War that followed the 1917 Revolution. Kolchak was executed on Feb. 7, 1920.