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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Rights Activists Sign Letter

Nearly two dozen Russian rights activists, politicians and journalists warned on Wednesday that human rights were being suppressed and that dissent was being quashed.

In a letter on the web site of the Moscow Helsinki Group, the watchdog pointed to the prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky as an indication of growing authoritarianism under President Vladimir Putin.

Among the 23 people signing were Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alexeyeva, former chess champion Garry Kasparov and Nobel Prize-winning physicist Vitaly Ginzburg. (AP)

New Year's Holiday Schedule

The State Duma will not amend the schedule for the New Year and Orthodox Christmas holidays, meaning that Russia will have a 10-day break as it did after the law was introduced last year, a senior legislator said Thursday.

"There will be no changes," Andrei Isayev, chairman of the Duma's Labor and Social Policy Committee, was quoted by Interfax as saying. (MT)

Putin Reappoints Governor

Sverdlovsk region Governor Eduard Rossel was reappointed for a third term by President Vladimir Putin, Interfax quoted the Kremlin as saying Thursday.

Rossel, who was twice elected governor of the region, has served as governor since 1995. His candidacy must be confirmed by the regional legislature. (MT)

Belkovsky Joins Campaign

Stanislav Belkovsky, the head of the Council for National Strategy, has joined the campaign team of the jailed special services colonel Vladimir Kvachkov.

Kvachkov has been charged with attempted murder in the attack in March on Anatoly Chubais, head of electricity monopoly Unified Energy Systems.

Kvachkov's campaign in the State Duma by-election is headed by Tatyana Mironova. Her son Ivan Mironov is accused of participating in the Chubais attack and is at large, Interfax said. (MT)

Chechen Official Shot

GROZNY -- A local election official in Chechnya was fatally shot less than two weeks before regional parliamentary elections, but the man's father and regional officials contradicted initial reports that he was attacked and said Thursday the shooting was an accident.

The death Wednesday of Isa Temirgirayev, chairman of a local election commission in the Nozhai-Yurt district, was an accident and was not linked to the elections, district administration chief Vakha Magamgaziyev said. (AP)

4 Die in Helicopter Crash

A helicopter inspecting a gas pipeline in northwestern Russia crashed Thursday, killing four people and injuring one, officials said.

Viktor Beltsov, spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry, said the Mi-2 helicopter was carrying two crew members and three passengers on a flight in the Vologda region. (AP)

2 Deported to Kyrgyzstan

Two Kyrgyz citizens convicted in Russia on charges of promoting extremism have been deported to Kyrgyzstan, Interfax reported Thursday.

Umid Abdullayev and Akramzhon Mamatkarimov were deported Wednesday by order of a court in Samara, Interfax reported, citing a regional branch of the Federal Security Service. (AP)

EU Lets in Uzbek Minister

BERLIN -- An Uzbek minister has been granted permission to undergo a life-saving operation in Germany despite being barred from the European Union over the crushing of protests in May.

"We issued the visa on humanitarian grounds," a German official said Tuesday, a day after Uzbek Interior Minister Zakirdzhon Almatov was banned along with 11 other top officials from entering the EU for a year. (Reuters)

U.S. Pays $23Bln for Base

WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon, despite congressional objections, said Wednesday that it paid Uzbekistan $22.9 million for use of a base that has been a hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan.

Uzbekistan in July gave the United States six months to leave the Karshi-Khanabad Air Base following U.S. criticism of the Uzbek government's violent suppression of demonstrators in Andijan in May. The Senate voted last month to delay the payment for a year, but the measure was part of a bill that has not been completed. (Reuters)