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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Primakov Testifies

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- Former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov testified as a defense witness at Slobodan Milosevic's war crimes trial Tuesday, saying the former Yugoslav leader tried to avoid the Kosovo conflict.

Primakov was in office during the 1998-99 war in the southern Serbian province when Milosevic sent troops to crack down on separatist ethnic Albanians. Fighting ended after a 78-day NATO-led bombing campaign that drove Milosevic's forces out of Kosovo.

Before the bombing, "I observed that both you personally and Belgrade were trying to rein in the forces that could be drawn into that circle of violence," Primakov told the UN tribunal.

Primakov is the third prominent Russian witness Milosevic has called since he began presenting his defense in August.

Court Bars Governor

MOSCOW (MT) -- A Bryansk court has barred Governor Yury Lodkin from running in next Sunday's gubernatorial election, clearing the way for United Russia candidate Nikolai Denin, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Lodkin, who was supported by the Communist and Agrarian parties, was charged with abuse of office during his re-election campaign after People's Party candidate Alexander Zhdanov complained.

Lodkin's lawyer, Andrei Obydennikov, said his client would appeal to the Supreme Court after the local court releases the reasons for its ruling, which is expected Thursday.

ISS Crew Approved

MOSCOW (AP) -- The Federal Space Agency and NASA have approved the crew of the next mission to the international space station, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev and U.S. astronaut John Phillips, who have both done earlier stints on the orbital station, will prepare for a launch on a Soyuz spacecraft in April, he said. The space agency expects to sign a contract with the European Space Agency within the next few weeks to also send Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori on the Soyuz to spend 10 days at the station.

Icebreaker Catches Fire

ST. PETERSBURG (AP) -- An atomic icebreaker that has been under construction for 15 years caught fire Tuesday at the Baltiisky shipbuilding plant in St. Petersburg. One worker was injured.

The blaze erupted on the third and fourth decks, damaging an area of about 50 square meters and forcing the evacuation of a number of workers, the St. Petersburg fire department said. One worker suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and was hospitalized, it said.

There was no nuclear fuel on the ship, and the incident did not create a radiation threat, said the plant's spokeswoman, Yelena Trekhovitskaya.

There was no information available about possible causes of the blaze.

Belarus Official Fired

MINSK (AP) -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has dismissed his administration chief and replaced him with a longtime associate who was implicated by a European rights group in disappearances of opposition figures five years ago.

Lukashenko dismissed chief of staff Ural Latypov with a decree Monday that said the former KGB officer was retiring. Latypov, a former foreign minister and Security Council chief, had held the post since September 2001. In his place Lukashenko appointed Viktor Sheiman.

Mi-8 Wreckage Found

MOSCOW (AP) -- Searchers on Tuesday found the wreckage of an Mi-8 helicopter that crashed in the Far East over the weekend and recovered the bodies of four of the five people aboard, emergency officials said.

The helicopter, with three crewmembers and two doctors aboard, crashed in harsh weather near the Gorelaya volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula, said Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov.

Rebel Web Site Up

VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- A Chechen rebel web site shut down by Lithuanian authorities is again running in the Baltic state, its operators said Tuesday in a letter that was posted on the web site.

It was impossible to confirm whether the letter was genuine.

The site,, had been running on a server in Vilnius until it was shut down by the Lithuanian government in September. After the site was shut down, it appeared on a server owned by Finland's Sonera AB telecom company, but was shut days later. Then in earlier November, it appeared on a server operated by Stockholm-based Internet services company Port80 AB, which has no plans to shut it down.

Ambassador Fired

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov fired the country's ambassador to Belgium after the diplomat allegedly defected, state media and an official said Tuesday.

If verified, this will be the fourth recent defection by a senior Turkmen diplomat abroad, following the nation's senior envoys to Turkey, Britain and Armenia switching sides.

Niyazov fired Niyazklych Nurklychev on Monday "for serious shortcomings committed in his work," the newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan said. He was stripped of his diplomatic rank and state awards he has received in his career.