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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

347 Military Deaths

A total of 347 military servicemen died of accidents and crime in the first half of this year, the Defense Ministry said Friday, Interfax reported.

Suicides accounted for 101 deaths, while eight men died after brutal hazings, the ministry said. Another 88 died in traffic accidents, 83 died in accidents not related to transportation and 39 were killed by civilians.

A total of 28 servicemen were killed in Chechnya in the first three months of 2005, and 10 more servicemen died there in May. The ministry did not provide a number for casualties in April and June.

Since the beginning of the second Chechen conflict in August 1999, more than 3,400 troops have perished there and 29 servicemen are missing. (MT)

Ivanov Confirms Closings

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed on Friday that the vast majority of military departments in universities would be closed by 2009.

The move, which will strip many young men of the opportunity to defer or avoid the compulsory military draft, was first revealed early last month. (AP)

2 Train Bombing Suspects

Two suspects have been detained in the June 12 bombing of a train that was heading from Chechnya to Moscow, prosecutors said Friday.

The two are members of a radical nationalist group, Russian National Unity, Interfax reported. (AP)

Jewish Store Vandalized

Two young men yelling anti-Semitic slogans vandalized a Jewish store in northern Moscow, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia said.

The men, one of whom was carrying a fake Kalashnikov, entered the kosher store on Trifonovskaya Ulitsa shortly before it closed Thursday evening, it said on its web site, (MT)

Putin Signs Inheritance Law

President Vladimir Putin on Friday signed a law abolishing inheritance and gift taxes. Under the law, only inherited royalties will remain taxed, as well as gifts such as real estate, automobiles and stocks. It took the government, the State Duma and the Federation Council only seven weeks to draft and adopt the legislation after Putin demanded for the abolition of the inheritance tax in early May. (MT)

Disposing of Nuclear Ships

Russia will dispose of all its decommissioned nuclear ships by 2010, Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev said Friday, Interfax reported.

Rumyantsev told the State Duma that Russia has sufficient funds to dispose of the vessels on its own, but that financial assistance offered by other countries would help cut the time for completing the work. (AP)

U.S. Studies Klebnikov Case

WASHINGTON -- An interagency group of U.S.officials met last week to review Russia's probe into the July 9 murder of Paul Klebnikov, the editor of Forbes magazine in Russia, a State Department spokeswoman said.

The meeting was convened after Russian prosecutors concluded earlier this month that a Chechen separatist leader, the subject of a critical book by Klebnikov, was behind the killing. Klebnikov's relatives have questioned the conclusions. (Bloomberg)

Yushchenko on Poisoning

LONDON -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said in a newspaper interview published Friday that authorities had traced the poison used in an attempt on his life to a Ukrainian laboratory, where it was made in "apparent violation of international laws."

Yushchenko also told the Daily Telegraph that he knew who was behind the poisoning. He earlier accused unidentified people close to the State Security Service of being behind the poisoning. (Bloomberg)

Regional Prosecutor Quits

Moscow region prosecutor Ivan Sydoruk resigned Friday, saying that he wished to retire, Interfax reported, citing the Prosecutor General's Office.

Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov has nominated the head of one of his office's departments, Sergei Vasiliyev, to replace him, Interfax said. (MT)

Rice Criticizes 2 Nations

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice singled out Belarus and Uzbekistan for criticism on Friday, alleging that neither had fulfilled its commitments on democracy to Europe's largest security organization.

By lumping Uzbekistan and Belarus together, Rice seemed to escalate her negative view of the government of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, equating it with the regime in Minsk. (AP)

Uzbek Refugees Considered

GENEVA -- Several countries are considering taking Uzbek refugees from Kyrgyzstan because of fears they could be forced to return to Uzbekistan, the UN refugee agency said Friday.

Ron Redmond, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said a number of countries -- including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States -- were giving "serious and urgent consideration" to resettlement plans. (AP)

Uzbek Interior Minister Ill

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Uzbek Interior Minister Zokirjon Almatov, who is believed to have commanded the bloody crackdown on a citizens' anti-government uprising in May, has been hospitalized outside the country, a senior police official said Friday.

Almatov was suffering from acute intercostal neuralgia, nerve pain in the rib area, and was being treated in a hospital in the "near abroad" -- a term used for countries outside the former Soviet Union, the official said. (AP)

Ethnic Protest Ends

NALCHIK -- Ethnic minority activists in Karachayevo-Cherkessia decided Friday to end their three-day protest after receiving a promise from presidential envoy Dmitry Kozak that their rights would be upheld.

Up to 200 members of the Abazin ethnic group occupied the regional government headquarters in Karachayevo-Cherkessia on Wednesday. (AP)