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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Pulikovsky in Pyongyang

Konstantin Pulikovsky, the presidential envoy to the Far East Federal District, was to travel to North Korea on Sunday to attend celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Korean Peninsula's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, Itar-Tass reported.

Pulikovsky said he would hand a message of congratulations from President Vladimir Putin to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. (AP)

UN Hopeful on Refugees

GENEVA -- The UN refugee agency said Friday that it was discussing with the country's government the fate of 15 Uzbek asylum seekers detained in Kyrgyzstan and was hopeful they would be allowed to stay.

"We are full of confidence that the Kyrgyz authorities will do the appropriate thing and that indeed these people will not be deported," said Astrid van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNHCR is concerned for the asylum seekers because they have expressed fear of persecution if returned to Uzbekistan. (AP)

Air Show Crash

KIEV -- Ukrainian relatives of those killed in a 2002 air show crash filed an appeal Friday seeking harsher sentences for the pilots of the plane and demanding $200,000 for each fatality, Interfax reported. The families received no compensation after the military Su-27 jet crashed and killed 77 people.

A military court in June sentenced the pilot and co-pilot, who ejected safely, to prison terms of eight and 14 years, respectively. (AP)

Estonia Treaty Pullout

The government said on Saturday that it had approved a Foreign Ministry proposal to pull out of a border treaty with Estonia, as relations with the Baltic state soured in a dispute over their Soviet past.

Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov signed a decree to approve the proposal and ask President Vladimir Putin to inform Estonia about the decision, according to a copy of the document posted on the government's web site.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in June that Russia was pulling out of the deal, signed on May 18. (Reuters)

Vekselberg Flattered

Billionaire businessman Viktor Vekselberg said late Thursday that he was flattered to hear that he was being considered as a possible Kamchatka governor but would decide later if he wanted the position.

Presidential envoy Konstantin Pulikovsky said earlier that day that he would recommend that President Vladimir Putin nominate Vekselberg as governor in 2007.

Vekselberg, who is on vacation out of the country, said through his spokesman that Pulikovsky's proposal was "as flattering as it was surprising," Interfax reported. "If in two years his proposal is still valid, I am ready to consider it with all seriousness," he said. (MT)

China-Russia Exercise

BEIJING -- A detachment of Russian naval ships arrived in the eastern Chinese port of Qingdao on Friday for unprecedented joint military maneuvers, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The group of vessels from the Pacific Fleet -- including a submarine hunter, a destroyer and major landing craft -- departed Vladivostok on Monday.

Russia said earlier in the week that it would also send six heavy bombers, including two Tu-95 strategic bombers and four Tu-22M long-range bombers, to take part in the Aug. 18-25 drills on the Shandong Peninsula. (AP)

13 Bodies Recovered

TALLINN, Estonia -- Rescue teams have recovered 13 bodies that were trapped inside the U.S.-made Sikorsky S-76 helicopter that plunged into the sea three minutes after takeoff on a commercial flight from Tallinn to Helsinki. One of the pilots was still missing.

The teams lifted the wreckage of the helicopter from the Baltic Sea on Saturday, three days after it crashed off Estonia's coast. (AP)

Belarus Extends Custody

MINSK -- A leader of Belarus' ethnic Polish community was sentenced to the second 15-day jail term Friday in the latest episode in the authorities' crackdown on the nation's Polish minority.

A judge in the western city of Grodno, near Belarus' border with Poland, ruled that Tadeusz Gawin, the former head of the Union of Poles, should remain in custody for another 15 days because he beat his cellmate, Union chief Angelica Boris said. Gawin denied the claim. (AP)

Uzbekistan Deports Russian

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A Russian worker for a religious freedom group was deported Saturday from Uzbekistan, two days after authorities barred him from entering the country, the Norway-based Forum 18 organization said.

Igor Rotar was detained Thursday after arriving on a flight from Kyrgyzstan and prevented from entering Uzbekistan. A border guard at the Tashkent airport said Rotar left Saturday on a flight to Moscow.

"The case has shown how religious freedom is an excellent litmus test of the state of human rights, and attention should remain on the extremely grave human rights situation still faced by Uzbekistan's people," said Forum 18, which monitors breaches of religious freedom worldwide. (AP)

Bakiyev Sworn In

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev pledged in an inauguration speech Sunday that the country, which hosts U.S. and Russian military bases, would pursue an independent foreign policy course.

"Kyrgyzstan won't become a place for the fulfillment of someone else's geopolitical interests," Bakiyev said, without naming any nation in particular. Bakiyev won a landslide victory in a July 10 presidential election. (AP)