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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kasyanov's Villa Probed

A villa recently built by former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov outside Moscow may be razed because a required environmental inspection was not carried out at the site, the Natural Resources Ministry said Wednesday.

An unidentified ministry official told Interfax that an investigation had been opened into the construction company and that the ministry and Moscow city prosecutors would soon ask a court to pull down the villa.

The inquiry comes as the Prosecutor General's Office investigates whether Kasyanov broke the law by acquiring a separate, formerly state-owned villa. That probe is widely seen as a Kremlin warning aimed at tempering Kasyanov's possible presidential ambitions. (MT)

Police Told to Be Polite

Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev has ordered police officers to be "polite" and "tactful" in their interactions with ordinary people.

It a letter addressed to "policemen, sergeants and officers," Nurgaliyev said a "polite, benevolent" relationship with citizens was "the primary requirement" for a "moral and professional" image for the police force.

The letter was posted Tuesday on the ministry's web site. (MT)

Azeri Vote Called a Test

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- The president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said November parliamentary elections would test democracy in Azerbaijan.

"The upcoming elections are a test case for your country," Rene van der Linden said at a news conference at the end of a two-day visit to Azerbaijan.

Referring to the Nov. 6 elections in Azerbaijan and a constitutional referendum in Armenia, he said that "for both countries, it's a real opportunity to show the international community that you are willing and able to fulfill the commitments of free and fair elections." (AP)

Mine Blast Kills One

A methane gas blast struck a coal mine in Siberia on Wednesday, killing one worker and injuring three, emergency officials said.

The blast ripped through part of the Koksovaya mine in the Kemerovo region town of Prokopyevsk, Emergency Situations Ministry spokeswoman Veronika Smolskaya said. (AP)

Nagorno-Karabakh Talks

The foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan said Wednesday that they saw hopeful signs recently in the drive to find a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The three ministers met in Moscow on Wednesday, along with representatives of the United States and France, which together with Russia are mediating negotiations on settling the conflict.

They also discussed arrangements for a meeting Saturday between Armenian President Robert Kocharyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on the sidelines of a summit of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Kazan. (AP)

U.S. General in Central Asia

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- A top U.S. military officer assured Turkmenistan's president that the American military was in Central Asia for its operations in Afghanistan and was not looking to confront other any nations.

General John Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command, met President Saparmurat Niyazov on Tuesday.

Abizaid on Wednesday discussed regional security with officials in Tajikistan. (AP)

Kazakh Meets Rumsfeld

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Kazakhstan's foreign minister discussed political and military ties between their countries at a meeting in Washington, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

During Tuesday's talks with Kasymzhomart Tokayev, Rumsfeld underlined Kazakhstan's key role in ensuring stability in Central Asia as the region's most economically advanced nation, the Kazakh ministry said. (AP)

Nazarbayev Will Run

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev reiterated on Wednesday that he would seek a new, seven-year term in an election expected in December.

"I will run for president and hope to get support of the people of Kazakhstan," Nazarbayev said during a live phone-in session on state television.

"If I am given such support, I will complete the work that I've started, the work for the benefit of my people," Nazarbayev said.

Nazarbayev, 65, has ruled the oil-rich nation for 16 years, since before it became independent in the 1991 Soviet collapse. (AP)

Ear Bitten Off in Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian villagers beat up an electric company employee and bit one of his ears off after he threatened to shut their power off for nonpayment, police said.

The attack occurred Monday in Kvemo Arkvani, about 90 kilometers southeast of Tbilisi, when regional utility worker Elshad Tagimov told some residents he was going to turn off their electricity because they were late in paying their bills, regional police officer Temur Maisuradze said. He gave no further details. (AP)