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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Frenchman Found Dead

VLADIVOSTOK -- A French citizen working on Sakhalin Island was found stabbed to death Wednesday morning, prosecutors said.

The victim, whose name has not been released in the interest of the investigation, was found dead in his rented apartment in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, a senior city prosecutor, Roman Gonchar, said.

Gonchar said the man, who was born in 1956, was a manager at oil services company Starstroi, which is involved in laying the main trunk pipeline in the Sakhalin-2 offshore gas project. The project is led by Royal Dutch Shell.

Prosecutors have opened a murder investigation. (AP)

Train Suspects Charged

Two suspects have been charged in connection with last month's bombing of a train that was heading from Grozny to Moscow, the Moscow region prosecutor's office said Wednesday.

The two men, residents of Moscow aged 48 and 47 who were arrested on June 30, have been charged with terrorism and attempted murder on grounds of nationalist or religious hatred, a prosecutor's office said.

The bomb went off June 12 ahead of the train as it was moving at slow speed outside Moscow; four cars derailed and 15 people were injured.

The prosecutor's office said after the arrests that police had seized a large quantity of extremist literature during a search of the suspects' apartments. (AP)

Traffic Police Disbanded

KIEV -- Ukraine's notoriously corrupt traffic police force is to be disbanded and reorganized within three months, according to a decree posted Wednesday on President Viktor Yushchenko's web site.

The decree calls for reorganizing the 23,000-member force into two departments -- one to enforce traffic rules and the other to respond to accidents and other road emergencies. The size of the new forces was not immediately clear.

The decree also orders the current force to maintain order on the roads until the reorganization is completed. (AP)

Ukraine Targets Adoptions

KIEV -- Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday announced a crackdown on how foreigners adopt children, following violations by foreigners and Ukrainians and what the top security official called "the selling of orphans."

State Security Service chief Oleksandr Turchinov said 2,058 children were adopted by foreigners last year, but authorities received follow-up information on only a quarter of them. "I am sure that many of the adopted didn't even reach the place of destination mentioned in the contract," he said. (AP)

Secret Tapes Analyzed

KIEV -- Ukraine's security agency has begun analyzing secret tape recordings that could implicate former President Leonid Kuchma in the murder of investigative journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, the agency's chief said Wednesday.

The analysis could be finished within a month, Security Service chief Oleksandr Turchinov said.

The recordings, made by a former Kuchma bodyguard, contain a voice that sounds like Kuchma's ordering aides to deal with Gongadze, who was investigating high-level corruption.

Kuchma has denied any involvement in Gongadze's death, which sparked mass protests. (AP)

Transdnestr Greets West

CHISINAU, Moldova -- The leader of a self-declared republic in Moldova has welcomed European and United States involvement in settlement talks with the government.

Transdnestr broke away from Moldova in 1992, after a short war that left more than 1,500 people dead.

"Europe has experience in efficiently resolving conflicts, and we consider that this experience would be useful," Igor Smirnov, the pro-Russian leader of Transdnestr, said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Moldova lodged an official protest with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Wednesday, accusing Russian troops of trying to detain a U.S. lawyer and firing in the air when Moldovan police intervened. Also Wednesday, Moldovan authorities deported a second Russian election observer who was jailed for 13 days after allegedly being involved in a brawl, the Interior Ministry said. (AP)

Uzbek Trial Convictions

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A court convicted seven Muslim women of religious extremism for being members of a banned organization, a rights activist said Wednesday.

Surat Ikramov, head of the Rights Defenders Initiative Group, said the seven, whose relatives have already been jailed on similar charges, were sentenced Tuesday for membership in Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that advocates the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia. Citing relatives who were allowed to attend the closed-door trial, Ikramov said the women received sentences ranging from three years suspended to eight years in prison. (AP)

Riga Cancels Gay Parade

RIGA, Latvia -- Officials in Latvia's capital, citing security concerns, canceled what would have been the Baltic country's first gay pride parade on Wednesday, just hours after the prime minister said he deemed the event offensive.

The parade, planned for Saturday, would have traveled through Riga's Old Town and included participants from nearby countries including Sweden, Russia, Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, the organizing group said.

The Gay and Lesbian Support Group said it was outraged and warned that the cancellation could hurt Latvia's reputation as a tolerant, Western-oriented country. (AP)