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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Moscow Police Crack Down

Moscow police are carrying out citywide sting operations aimed at shutting down producers and vendors of counterfeit music, film and software in the latest clampdown on the rampant piracy that threatens Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization.

"We can already speak of results," police spokesman Filip Zolotnitsky said. "Thousands of discs have already been seized, and several factories have been shut down."

The operation -- officially called Counterfeit -- began on Monday and is expected to last two weeks, he said.

Zolotnitsky said an underground plant pirating Microsoft software in the Moscow region had been closed. (AP)

German, Uzbek Talks

BERLIN -- Germany is talking with Uzbekistan about the NATO peacekeeping mission in neighboring Afghanistan, and alternatives are under consideration if alliance forces cannot use Uzbekistan, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said Thursday.

Germany uses a base in southern Uzbekistan to provide backup for its troops across the border. NATO diplomats said Wednesday that Uzbek authorities had informed the allies they must withdraw troops and stop overflights by Jan. 1. (AP)

Final Azeri Vote Results

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azerbaijan's Central Elections Commission has published final results of this month's disputed parliamentary elections, which opposition parties claim were rigged.

The ruling New Azerbaijan Party won 58 seats and opposition parties 10 seats, according to the official results of the Nov. 6 polls, which were released Wednesday and must be endorsed by the Supreme Court within the next 10 days. Nearly all the other seats in the 125-member parliament went to candidates who are officially independent, though many are pro-government.

Four constituencies where violations were confirmed are to hold repeat by-elections. (AP)

Saakashvili's NATO Target

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili predicted his country would become a member of NATO by 2009, after overcoming problems the military alliance has noted involving its readiness and security in the Caucasus.

"I think we will become members of NATO during my presidential term. That's for sure," Saakashvili told Western journalists late Wednesday.

Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis said Thursday that Greece was "quite favorable" toward Georgia's efforts to join NATO. (Reuters)

Bush Congratulates Georgia

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday congratulated the people of Georgia on the second anniversary of the Rose Revolution that completed "the journey to independence first begun in 1989 during the last days of the Soviet empire."

Since then, Bush said, "the Georgian people have continued their contributions to freedom's cause and made significant progress in building a vibrant democracy." (AP)

Yukos Asylum Request

RIGA, Latvia -- Mikhail Yelfimov, a former vice president of oil giant Yukos, has requested political asylum in Latvia, an Interior Ministry official said Thursday.

Ministry spokesman Krists Leiskalns would not say if Yelfimov was currently in Latvia or give any further details about his asylum request. Latvian authorities have three months to hand down a decision, said Leiskalns, although a one-year extension can be granted in certain cases. It was not immediately clear whether Yelfimov was under investigation in Russia. (AP)

Lukashenko 'Offered Cash'

MINSK -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, who is accused by Washington and the European Union of human rights violations, said on Thursday that the West was offering him money to step aside and not seek re-election next year.

A statement by the president's press service said Lukashenko announced he had refused the offer while meeting parliamentary leaders. (Reuters)