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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Lavrov Strikes OSCE Deal

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has agreed to step up its security and economic activities, addressing Russia's concern that the trans-Atlantic body has placed too much emphasis on human rights and democracy promotion.

"We hope this will enable us to reach … agreements that will provide balance among the three basic activities of the OSCE: security, economic and humanitarian questions," Lavrov said after talks with OSCE chairman Dimitrij Rupel. (AP)

Turkish Talks in Sochi

President Vladimir Putin will meet with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Sunday and Monday, the Kremlin press service said.

The talks will focus on Russian-Turkish relations and key international and regional challenges, the press service said in a statement Wednesday. Putin traveled to Turkey in December. (AP)

Sailors Convicted of Hazing

A military court outside St. Petersburg on Wednesday convicted two sailors of beating younger conscripts, sentencing one of them to 3 1/2 years in jail and handing the other a one-year suspended sentence.

"The sailors were convicted of beating up other conscripts and extortion of money," said Andrei Pichugin, senior assistant to the region's top military prosecutor.

The case against the two servicemen, aged 20 and 21, was opened after 12 conscripts serving with a Baltic Fleet unit near St. Petersburg deserted in April, complaining of beatings by more senior soldiers. Navy officials at first claimed that the conscripts had run away because they did not want to continue their service. (AP)

Jet Violates Airspace

Fighter jets and rocket batteries were put on alert after a Vietnamese passenger jet bound for Moscow entered Russian airspace without permission, Defense Ministry spokesman Nikolai Baranov said Wednesday.

Baranov said the jets did not take off but crews were ordered onto heightened readiness after the plane -- identified by media as Hang Khong Vietnam Airlines Flight 525 -- crossed into Russia from Kazakhstan around 5:30 a.m. Tuesday.

The Air Force said air traffic controllers had been aware of the flight and blamed the incident partly on poor coordination between civil and military aviation authorities. Baranov said a single air navigation authority should be established in Russia.

The plane, which originated in Hanoi, landed at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport about 1 1/2 hours later without incident. (AP)

Detention Centers

Russia placed all detention centers in civilian hands on Wednesday, ending the security services' control over people awaiting trial that dates back to the gulag and beyond.

President Vladimir Putin signed a decree giving the Justice Ministry control of the pretrial centers run by the Federal Security Service. In May, he promised the Council of Europe that he would do so. (Reuters)

Ukrainian Billionaire Called

KIEV -- Ukrainian police have summoned billionaire Rinat Akhmetov, who is widely seen as an ally of former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, for questioning, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

Officials declined to elaborate beyond saying he was requested to come to the police next Monday. (Reuters)

Transdnestr Proposal

CHISINAU, Moldova -- President Vladimir Voronin on Wednesday proposed offering broad autonomy to its Russian-speaking breakaway region of Transdnestr to settle a 13-year separatist conflict.

Under Voronin's new proposal, Transdnestr would become a republic within Moldova and would have the right to pursue full independence.

His proposal, which has been submitted to parliament, also calls for holding internationally monitored parliamentary elections in Transdnestr supervised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. (AP)

Astronauts Mark 30 Years

WEATHERFORD, Oklahoma -- Astronauts and cosmonauts who docked their craft together in outer space in 1975 are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the mission that helped thaw relations during the Cold War.

Inside a small museum that bears his name, retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Thomas Stafford, 74, and astronaut Vance Brand, 74, shared stories Tuesday with their Soviet counterparts, Valery Kubasov, 70, and Alexei Leonov, 71.

The joint mission was designed to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for U.S. and Soviet spacecraft and to open the way for international space rescue and future joint manned flights.

The four men are now on a tour to celebrate the anniversary of the July 15-24 flight. The tour will include events in Washington and Miami before heading to Russia at the end of the month. (AP)

For the Record

A radio-controlled bomb exploded on a highway in eastern Chechnya on Tuesday as a military convoy was passing, wounding four soldiers and a law enforcement official. (AP)

Gunmen killed a police officer in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt on Wednesday, the second such killing of a police officer in as many days. (AP)

Kyrgyzstan's Central Election Commission on Wednesday confirmed Kurmanbek Bakiyev the winner of Sunday's presidential vote with 88.71 percent of the vote. (AP)