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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Krasnoyarsk Merger

MOSCOW (AP) -- Three regions on Tuesday announced a plan to merge -- a move reflecting the Kremlin's desire to streamline the nation's unwieldy administrative system by reducing the number of federal entities.

Under the planned merger, Krasnoyarsk would engulf the neighboring Evenkia and Taimyr autonomous regions, Krasnoyarsk Governor Alexander Khloponin told President Vladimir Putin. Alexander Uss, the head of the Krasnoyarsk region's legislature, said a referendum on the unification could be held April 17.

Earlier this year, the State Duma endorsed the merger of the Perm region and the neighboring Komi-Permyak Autonomous District.

Missiles Launched

MOSCOW (AP) -- The military successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles Tuesday, firing one from a nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean and another from the northwestern Plesetsk Cosmodrome.

The RS-12M Topol missile fired from the space launching area in Plesetsk hit a designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula, the Strategic Missile Forces said. It said the launch was part of an effort to test the possible extension of the service life of the Soviet-built ballistic missiles.

The St. George nuclear submarine launched a ballistic missile from under water in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East. The missile hit a set target in northern Russia, the navy said.

Ship Sinks, One Dead

VLADIVOSTOK (AP) -- A Russian cargo ship chartered by a Cambodian owner sank in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, leaving one sailor dead and seven others missing, officials said.

The Arosa freighter, which had an all-Russian crew, sank in rough seas some 45 kilometers off the coast, according to the local sea rescue center. Rescuers saved seven crewmen, including a captain who was badly injured and flown by helicopter to a hospital near Vladivostok.

Girl Dies in Crash

MOSCOW (AP) -- A bus carrying children along a Moscow-St. Petersburg highway crashed Tuesday, killing one schoolgirl and injuring eight others, officials said.

The bus hit an obstacle and overturned near the city of Torzhok, about 225 kilometers northwest of Moscow, Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov said.

A 17-year-old schoolgirl died in the accident and eight other children were hospitalized with injuries, Beltsov said. A total of 40 people, 35 of them children, were on a sightseeing tour on the bus.


VLADIVOSTOK (AP) -- A North Korean man scaled rooftops to seek asylum at the U.S. consulate in Vladivostok, officials said Tuesday.

The asylum-seeker has remained at the consulate in Vladivostok since being detained by guards Thursday, a consular official said on condition of anonymity. He would not identify the man or give any further details.

Gen Su, the North Korean consul in the region, said it was not clear whether the asylum-seeker was a North Korean citizen.

Kazakh Appeal

ASTANA, Kazakhstan (AP) -- The outgoing speaker of Kazakhstan's parliament Tuesday urged the country's top officials to respect laws and warned against moves to suppress dissent.

"We must preserve freedom of speech, people's unity and pluralism of opinions," Zharmakhan Tuyakbai told the last session of the outgoing parliament.

Tuyakbai stepped down as speaker of parliament and quit the main pro-government Otan party last month to protest parliamentary elections, which he said were flawed.

Uzbeks Protest

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Reuters) -- Thousands of people marched through the center of an Uzbek city and set fire to two police cars in a rare popular protest.

Monday's protest was against new tax impositions on traders and a lack of domestic gas supplies ahead of winter. Many Uzbeks rely on informal trading in big, open-air markets for their livelihood.

About 2,000 people gathered in the outdoor market at Kokand, 160 kilometers east of the capital, Tashkent to protest, said Ismail Dadadzhanov, a deputy chairman of the secular Birlik opposition party.

The crowd, whose number grew to 10,000 by midday, marched on the main local government building and set fire to two police cars, but police did not break up the crowd.

Drugs Suspect Held

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan (AP) -- Tajik authorities detained a former Russian serviceman on suspicion of drug dealing, an official said.

The man, who had been with the 201st Russian motor-rifle division stationed in Tajikistan, was detained Monday along with a suspected accomplice, a Tajik citizen, in the capital, Dushanbe, said Drug Control Agency spokesman Avaz Yuldashev.

The agency's officers seized 2 kilograms of heroin from the Tajik man, he said.

Baltic Terror Warning

HELSINKI (AP) -- In a rare warning to Americans living or traveling in the Nordic and Baltic region, U.S. embassies in Finland and Latvia said they received "threat information" and warned U.S. citizens there to be cautious.

The U.S. State Department urged Americans in Nordic and Baltic countries "to be vigilant as to their surroundings, especially in centers of ground-based mass transit, and to report any unusual or suspicious persons, incidents or circumstances to the nearest police authorities," the embassy's web site in Helsinki said.

The State Department message coincided with an announcement by Latvia's security service that it had received intelligence reports from Norway, Estonia and the United States of a possible terrorist strike.

Missionary Killed

RIGA, Latvia (AP) -- Latvian police discovered the body of an U.S. missionary who had been killed in his Riga apartment.

As is customary in Latvia, police would not identify the victim. State Police spokeswoman Kristina Mezaraupe said the police found the man dead in his apartment Monday with a knife plunged in his chest and what appeared to be strangulation marks around his throat.

Police said they believe the man died over the weekend. He was found after his employer reported him missing. Investigators found the victim's apartment in disarray and suspect he may have been robbed.