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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

'Abductions Inflated'

MOSCOW (AP) -- Chechen Security Council chief Rudnik Dudayev on Thursday accused rights groups of overstating the number of abductions in Chechnya in a bid to draw attention to an upcoming conference.

"Let the figures quoted by rights organizations remain on their conscience," Dudayev said, Interfax reported.

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that more than 1,000 people are believed to have been kidnapped in Chechnya last year. Last month, Memorial said some 1,000 civilians had gone missing over the past five years, and that it registered 396 abductions in 2004.

Dudayev said 218 people were kidnapped in Chechnya last year and that rights groups have been overstating the figures to win publicity for a late March conference on Chechnya involving representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Agents Not in Jail

MOSCOW (AP) -- Two agents who were sent back to Russia after being convicted of killing Chechen rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in Qatar are not in prison, the Justice Ministry said.

"As of today, we do not have them in our institutions," Yury Kalinin, head of the Justice Ministry's penal department, said in comments broadcast on NTV television Wednesday night. "I have no information about them."

Kalinin also said authorities might exhume the body of Chechen rebel Salman Raduyev, who died in prison in December 2002, to address persistent reports suggesting he was killed.

Lavrov Downplays Spat

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday played down a dispute with Georgia over a wreath-laying ceremony and said he hopes the spat will not provoke "artificial" problems in his visit there Friday.

Georgia on Wednesday downgraded Lavrov's trip from an official to a working visit because he declined an invitation to lay a wreath at a memorial to Georgians killed in the war over Abkhazia. Tens of thousands of people died in the 1992-93 separatist war. Tbilisi says Russia armed Abkhaz rebels and accuses it of meddling in the region ever since.

For the Record

Georgia's parliament approved President Mikheil Saakashvili's nomination of Zurab Nogaideli as prime minister Thursday with a 175-24 vote. (AP)

President Vladimir Putin thanked visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany on Thursday for acknowledging the former Soviet Union's role in defeating fascism. (AP)

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on Wednesday accused Washington and Moscow of pursuing a propaganda war against Minsk. He took issue with reports on the Voice of America and Radio Liberty and Russian television channels. (AP)