Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Troops in Chechnya

MOSCOW (AP) -- Chechen President Alu Alkhanov predicted that by the end of the year, there would be no more federal military or police troops in Chechnya than in any other region, and he insisted that his government's own police and security structures could keep control.

"Today, work is under way to transfer all functions, all powers, to the Chechen Interior Ministry and the Chechen Republic commandant's office," Alkhanov told a news conference Friday in Moscow.

The 42nd motorized infantry division and the 46th brigade of Interior Ministry troops, which are currently deployed in Chechnya, are to remain on a permanent basis, in principle staffed entirely by contract soldiers instead of conscripts as of this year.

Alkhanov said some federal military and police could also stay on to give "purely organizational help."

A federal military spokesman declined to comment on Alkhanov's statement.

Military Salaries Hiked

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin on Friday hiked salaries for Russia's military recruits, law enforcement agencies, firefighters and other civil defense workers, as collective outrage about reforms to the country's social benefits system continues to rattle the government.

The orders signed by Putin double monthly salaries for servicemen working under contract, as well as for Interior Ministry workers, emergency workers and others.

Putin also ordered pension increases of 240 rubles ($9) for military veterans, as well as retired employees of law enforcement, firefighters and other civil defense agencies.

Military draftees will also receive 100 ruble increases in their monthly stipends beginning in April, and another 100 ruble increase in September, under an order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov.

Syringes in the Mail

MOSCOW (MT) -- Police are investigating after a package with syringes filled with an unidentified substance was sent to the British Embassy along with a warning that the syringes contained a biological weapon.

Tests showed the syringes did not contain any harmful substance, Itar-Tass quoted experts from the Emergency Situations Ministry as saying. Further tests are to be carried out.

A spokesman confirmed that the embassy had received several suspicious packages last week, one of which contained a number of syringes. The package was addressed to a former British ambassador, although the embassy refused to reveal which one. The other packages contained papers.

Putin Talks to Blair

MOSCOW (AP) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister Tony Blair spoke by telephone Friday, discussing issues, including the July summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations and Russia's planned leadership of the G8 next year, the Kremlin said.

Putin and Blair discussed bilateral relations, international issues and plans for further contacts, Putin's press service said.

They also briefly discussed issues related to the July summit of the G8, which Britain currently leads, and to Russia's scheduled stint as holder of its presidency next year, the press service said.

The conversation came six days before Putin is to hold a summit with U.S. President George W. Bush in Slovakia.