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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

4th Body Found in Blast

Emergency workers found the body of a man early Thursday in the rubble of an apartment building near Prospekt Mira, bringing to four the number of people killed in an apparent gas explosion.

The explosion at 6 Ulitsa Godovikova, northeast of the city center, sheared off a section of the building at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday. The apartment where the blast occurred was undergoing renovations and was believed to have been vacant at the time.

Municipal officials said that it would be some time before the building was inhabitable again and that many residents had been moved to hotels. (MT)

Ufa Researcher Goes on Trial

The closed trial of a researcher accused of selling state secrets to South Korea began in Ufa on Wednesday, Kommersant reported.

Oscar Kaibyshev, 66, director of the Institute for Metal Superplasticity Problems, is charged with illegally exporting dual-use technologies -- techniques, machinery, equipment or software that can be used for civilian and military purposes -- to South Korea.

Kaibyshev complained that his lawyer had not been given enough time to look at the case file, Kommersant reported Thursday. The lawyer's appeal to delay the trial until February was denied.

Kaibyshev is among a growing number of academics who have been accused of espionage or otherwise misusing classified information. (MT)

United Russia Dispute

United Russia's leadership is caught in a dispute with the party's Chechen branch over who should head the regional branch, Kommersant reported Thursday.

United Russia's general council removed State Duma Deputy Frants Klintsevich as branch head on Tuesday and wants to replace him with State Duma Deputy Ruslan Yamadayev, Kommersant said. But United Russia's branch on Wednesday recommended Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov for the post. Kommersant said tensions were high between Kadyrov and Klintsevich, who supports Yamadayev for the position. (MT)

'Police' Rob Bus Passengers

Seven assailants dressed in traffic police uniforms stopped a passenger bus on a highway outside Moscow early Thursday and robbed the passengers of 1.5 million rubles ($50,000) in cash and cell phones, the regional traffic police department said.

The robbers threatened the six passengers and two drivers on the bus, en route from Moscow to the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, with guns, said Natalya Vorotnikova, a spokeswoman for the police. Police were searching for the criminals. (AP)

9 Police Officers Injured

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Gunmen opened fire on police after their car and van were stopped at a checkpoint in Ingushetia, wounding nine officers, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.

The attack occurred late Wednesday at a checkpoint near the border with Chechnya, said Roman Shchekotin, spokesman for the ministry's southern branch. The assailants managed to escape, he said. (AP)

Greenpeace Harries Ship

Three boats with Greenpeace activists on board late Wednesday harried a Russian freighter carrying a shipment of depleted uranium to Russia from France.

Eleven activists lit smoke bombs and released buoys with radiation signs on them, said the head of the Russian branch of Greenpeace's anti-nuclear campaign, Vladimir Chuprov, Interfax reported.

But the ship's crew bombarded the boats with water from high-pressure hoses and the Greenpeace activists had to retreat, he said. The incident took place off the coast some 25 kilometers west of St. Petersburg, the shipment's final destination. (AP)

Nazarbayev Through 2019?

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, in power since 1989, may seek to extend his rule until 2019, even though by law he must step down in 2012, an aide said Thursday.

Nazarbayev 65, won a new seven-year term Sunday, and under the current constitution, this term is his last.

"Let's see in December 2012, and if [per capita] gross domestic product hits Eastern Europe's level of $9,000 to $10,000. ... Then we could amend the constitution, and the president could again seek re-election, aged 72," Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, a political adviser to Nazarbayev, told a conference, Interfax reported. (Reuters)

Kazakh Newspaper Seized

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh authorities seized all copies of Thursday's edition of an opposition newspaper that carried front-page allegations about manipulation in last weekend's presidential vote, a deputy editor said.

Zhuma-Times' deputy editor Bakhytgul Makenbai said the weekly also carried a story on developments in a corruption scandal in the United States that involves Nazarbayev's former U.S. adviser on oil contracts.

Makenbai said Zhuma-Times' 100,000 copies were seized by police without explanation before they left the printers. (AP)

U.S. Presses Kazakhstan

WASHINGTON -- Kazakhstan should investigate charges of fraud in its presidential election and address and repair any shortcomings in the electoral process, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.

Matthew Bryza, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, described Sunday's vote "as a step forward but not as far as we had hoped." (AP)

Estonia Extends Iraq Tour

TALLINN -- The Estonian parliament extended the country's troop mission to Iraq by one year until the end of 2006.

The 101-seat parliament voted 68-3 late Wednesday in favor of extending the mission. Thirty lawmakers either abstained or were absent from the vote.

Estonia has 34 soldiers, mostly infantry, serving alongside a U.S. contingent in Baghdad. (AP)

For the Record

Uzbekistan boycotted a meeting of NATO's expanded Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council on Thursday, a NATO official said, as a dispute between the alliance and the country escalated following the government crackdown in the Uzbek city of Andijan. (Reuters)

The upper house of the Belarussian parliament on Thursday unanimously approved amendments to the country's criminal code that would make it a crime to slander the state -- legislation that rights groups have criticized as a severe blow to their activities and to the political opposition. Belarus' security service has said the amendments are needed to prevent mass uprisings such as those that followed elections and brought opposition leaders to power in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. (AP)