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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

32 Conscripts Found Unfit

More than 30 conscripts have been discharged after doctors found them psychologically unfit for service, a spokesman for the Moscow Militarty District said Monday.

A group of 64 recently drafted servicemen attending boot camp in the Vladimir region were sent for psychological checkups, and 32 of them were found unfit, said the spokesman, Colonel Vitaly Gusak.

He said the disqualified conscripts suffered from latent psychological disorders that grow acute under stress. (MT)

Public Chamber Bill Signed

President Vladimir Putin signed legislation Monday to set up a public oversight board -- a measure the Kremlin says will increase citizens' participation in government, but which critics dismiss as a smoke screen for the government's increasingly authoritarian trends.

The Public Chamber will have only a consultative status and will largely serve as a forum for Russians to discuss important social concerns. A third of its 126 members will be appointed by the president, another third will be named by presidential appointees, and those two sets of appointees in turn will choose the rest. (AP)

Singer at Charles' Wedding

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mariinsky contralto Yekaterina Semenchuk said she has accepted an invitation to sing at the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles on Saturday.

The 29-year-old soloist said she will perform Gretchaninov's "The Symbol of Faith" at a church ceremony after the civil wedding at Windsor Castle.

"I am very excited," Semenchuk said late last week. "It is a huge responsibility because I represent not only the Mariinsky Theater but the entire country."

Semenchuk's performance will be a gift from the board of trustees of the Mariinsky Theater, of which Prince Charles is a patron. (MT)

Beslan Students in Estonia

TALLINN, Estonia -- Twenty children who survived last year's Beslan attack are going through a three-week rehabilitation program at an Estonian health spa, the Red Cross said Monday.

The children are still badly affected by their traumatic experiences during the ordeal, Estonian Red Cross spokeswoman Riina Kabi said.

The children, aged 3 to 16, and 27 accompanying parents and relatives are staying at a spa in the coastal town of Haapsalu, about 100 kilometers southwest of Tallinn. (AP)

Uzbek Courts Convict 13

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- At least 13 people have been convicted of religious extremism in Tashkent over the past month as part of a government crackdown on radical Islam that critics say has targeted many innocent believers, a rights activist said Monday.

Four women and nine men were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to 19 years in separate trials in March and early April, said Surat Ikramov, leader of the Initiative Group of Human Rights Defenders of Uzbekistan. (AP)

Lithuanian Illusionists

PALANGA, Lithuania -- Two Lithuanians wearing only T-shirts and sweatpants emerged from a block of ice where they had spent 63 hours and 31 minutes in an attempt to outdo a similar stunt by U.S. illusionist David Blaine.

Shivering with cold, Arvydas Gaiciunas, 36, and his 29-year-old sister, Diana Gaiciunaite, were greeted by cheers and applause from thousands of onlookers at a downtown square in Palanga, 300 kilometers west of Vilnius, on Sunday. (AP)