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

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Romania on Moldova

MOSCOW (AP) -- Romanian President Traian Basescu called on Russia on Tuesday to help bring his country into the mediation process on a breakaway Moldovan region that is populated mainly by Russian speakers.

Basescu told a news conference that the status of the Trans-Dniester region affected the security of both Romania and Russia. Trans-Dniester, which broke away from Moldova in a 1992 war, is populated mainly by Russians and Ukrainians, and Russia and Ukraine, together with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, are trying to broker a peace settlement.

"We are asking for Russia's support in our efforts to join the multilateral talks," Basescu said. "Romania is well acquainted with that region, and therefore we can contribute to the solution of the situation."

Police Abuse

MOSCOW (AP) -- A senior law enforcement official on Tuesday acknowledged the problem of police violence as prosecutors charged the Blagoveshchensk police chief with abuse of power in a recent police raid in the Urals city.

"Undoubtedly there are people in the ranks of law enforcement officers for whom fighting criminals isn't the most important goal of their lives," said Nikolai Ovchinnikov, acting head of the Interior Ministry's department on fighting organized crime and terrorism. "There are some who are obvious traitors. There are also people who don't carry out their duties properly enough."

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged police chief Ildar Ramazanov with abusing his official powers during a Dec. 10-14 "preventive police action." Policemen detained more than 389 people and jailed 171 for public drunkenness after residents allegedly beat up members of a police unit.

Train Bomb Threat

MOSCOW (AP) -- A young woman has been sentenced to eight years in prison for threatening to blow up a train in southern Russia, prosecutors said.

The Astrakhan regional court on Thursday found Sofia Alilova, an 18-year-old student from Dagestan, guilty of attempted murder and terrorism and handed her an eight-year sentence, according to a statement posted on the Prosecutor General Office's web site.

Alilova was detained in June on a train en route to Baku, Azerbaijan, after she threatened to blow it up.

Slovaks Pleased

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) -- The majority of Slovaks see the upcoming meeting between U.S. President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia as a positive development for the Balkan country, according to a poll released Tuesday.

The poll conducted by the Focus agency indicated that 58.6 percent of the respondents said they thought the meeting was good for Slovakia, though 28.5 percent of respondents disagreed. The remaining 12.9 percent were not able to answer.

A total of 1,079 people were interviewed ahead of the Feb. 24 summit, which will mark the first visit by a U.S. president to the country.

Police Chief Killed

MOSCOW (AP) -- An unknown gunman or gunmen shot and killed a police chief in his office in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk, police said.

Colonel Alexander Uskov, police chief of the city of Satka, was found dead shortly after he arrived at work Monday, said Alexei Popov, a spokesman for the regional Interior Ministry in Chelyabinsk.

He had three gunshot wounds and was believed to have been shot with a Kalashnikov automatic rifle, Popov said. No other details were available.

Georgia Base Talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he hopes to make progress with Georgia on military issues, according to an interview published this week.

Lavrov, in an interview published in Itogi magazine, said Russia has legitimate security issues in Georgia. "Every country determines which regions are important for its provision with energy resources, security and protection from terrorism attacks and other threats," he said.

Weekend talks on the issue brought an impatient response from Georgian Deputy Foreign Minister Merab Antadze. "If we aren't able to reach agreement on the withdrawal of two Russian bases from Georgia in a civilized form, then it's possible we could use the measure of declaring them 'outside the law,'" he said.

New Zealand Navy

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) -- Two New Zealand naval ships, a frigate and a supply vessel, are to make the navy's first-ever visit to Vladivostok, the force's commander said Tuesday.

The frigate, HMNZS Te Mana, and the supply ship, HMNZS Endeavour, will call at the port for a four-day diplomatic visit starting June 10. The trip will also include stops in Japan and China.

Azeri Freed

BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) -- Authorities freed a former Azeri politician from custody after the Czech Republic appealed on his behalf, an associate said Tuesday.

Saday Nazarov, 58, was arrested Jan. 20 in Azerbaijan, where he faces life in prison for alleged high treason. He had worked as an adviser to former Azeri Prime Minister Suret Huseynov, and fled Azerbaijan in 1994 after being accused of plotting to carry out a coup. The Czech government granted him asylum in 1997.

23 Uzbeks on Trial

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) -- Twenty-three businessmen are on trial in Uzbekistan on charges of religious extremism, officials said Tuesday, in a case described by one rights activist as part of an ongoing government crackdown on religious dissent.

The trial in Andijan city court opened Thursday, court officials said. If convicted on charges of anti-constitutional activity and organizing a criminal and extremist organization, the men face up to 20 years in jail.

I Love Europe

MINSK (AP) -- Police in Minsk broke up a Valentine's Day demonstration by young activists who proclaimed their love for Europe outside the office of Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko. A few dozen members of the Young Front met in a square near Lukashenko's administration building, handing out small European Union flags and singing the EU anthem at a demonstration they called "I Love Europe." Police formed a chain and pushed the demonstrators out of the square.