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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Ex-Gitmo Men's Detention

Two Russian citizens formerly held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have been detained by security services on suspicion of participating in terrorist attacks, religious and human rights activists said Tuesday.

Several men who identified themselves as law enforcement officials detained Airat Vakhitov and Rustam Akhmyarov at a Moscow apartment on Saturday, said Geidar Dzhemal, head of the Islamic Committee. The men provided no explanation for the detention.

Dzhemal said prosecutors, police and federal security officials had not provided any information on the detention, but he said the men were being held in Naberezhniye Chelny, Tatarstan.

The U.S. Embassy declined to comment. Law enforcement officials said they could not confirm the detentions. (AP)

EU Worried About Belarus

The European Union is concerned about human rights abuses in Belarus and plans to send a representative to monitor the situation in the former Soviet republic, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Tuesday.

Barroso said crackdowns on nongovernmental organizations were especially worrying and that the EU planned to provide direct funding to Belarussian civil society groups. "We are very concerned with the situation of human rights in Belarus," Barroso said after meeting with the prime ministers of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. "We are following the situation there very closely." (AP)

Anti-Terror Exercise

Four former Soviet republics held joint anti-terror air defense exercises in southern Russia on Tuesday.

More than 40 aircraft and 2,000 personnel from Russia, Armenia, Belarus and Tajikistan were expected to take part in the maneuvers near Astrakhan, Russian Air Force commander Vladimir Mikhailov said, Itar-Tass reported.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, attending the exercises, said Russia had recently agreed to deliver S-300 surface-to-air missiles to Belarus. (AP)

No Ambassador Ayatskov

Former Saratov Governor Dmitry Ayatskov will not serve as Russia's ambassador to Belarus even though President Vladimir Putin appointed him to the post on July 15, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The decision was made at a meeting between Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko in Kazan last week, the newspaper said.

Putin offered Ayatskov the ambassadorship after refusing to keep him on as governor. Ayatskov had enjoyed warm relations with Lukashenko, and Minsk instantly welcomed the appointment. But Minsk soured on Ayatskov after he harshly criticized Lukashenko at a news conference on July 19. (MT)

Putin Invites Nashi Activist

President Vladimir Putin has invited a 19-year-old female activist with the pro-Kremlin Nashi youth organization to participate in the Public Chamber, Izvestia reported Tuesday.

Third-year student Yulia Gorodnicheva, who was among the Nashi activists who met with Putin at his Zavidovo residence this summer, was picked even though her grades are not exemplary at Tula State University, Izvestia said. Her grades in her majors, sociology and political science, are mostly Bs and B-minuses, the newspaper said.

Putin formed the Public Chamber as an independent civil society watchdog. (MT)

Serb Faces Extradition

A Bosnian Serb sought by the war crimes tribunal in The Hague has been arrested in the Khanty-Mansiisk region, a regional official confirmed Tuesday, RIA-Novosti reported.

"We detained Dragan Zelenovic in connection with his being wanted by the international tribunal on the former Yugoslavia," said Anatoly Vorotov, head of the region's criminal investigations department.

Vorotov said Zelenovic had lived in Khanty-Mansiisk, for several years under an assumed name and had worked in the construction industry.

Regional prosecutors have prepared documents needed for Zelenovic's extradition and were planning to send them to the Prosecutor General's Office on Wednesday, Interfax reported. (AP)

For the Record

A Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly on Tuesday investigated allegations of baby trafficking and organ harvesting at an eastern Ukrainian hospital where newborns were reported missing. (AP)

The legislature of Chuvashia has endorsed long-time President Nikolai Fyodorov to a new term. President Vladimir Putin submitted Fyodorov's candidacy and confirmed it Monday. (MT)

Belarus' top elections official said the country's presidential vote would probably be scheduled for July 16, 2006, and she rejected Western allegations of fraud in past votes. (AP)