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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Moscow Family Evicted

A Moscow family that owes 23,000 rubles ($800) in utilities bills will become the first in the city to be evicted under the new Housing Code, Itar-Tass reported Wednesday.

Vladimir Zotov, prefect of the city's Southeastern Administrative District, said the Lyublinsky District Court on Monday ruled to evict the Tupin family and move them into a dormitory in Kapotnya district, which is notorious for its high levels of pollution.

None of the Tupins has appeared at any of several court hearings over the debt, Zotov said.

Under the new code, residents can be evicted and moved to cheaper apartments if they fail to pay utility bills for more than six months. (MT)

Kremlin Picks Monitors

The Kremlin has picked two companies to monitor the performance of regional leaders on improving living standards and the economy.

The Center for Fiscal Policy group will work with Prognoz, a consulting company based in Perm, on the survey, said a statement posted on the Kremlin's web site Wednesday.

The companies will receive 700,000 rubles ($24,500) for their work this year, the Kremlin said. The companies were picked in a tender called by the Kremlin's domestic policy department, which declined to comment Wednesday on the tender and the survey.

A spokeswoman for Prognoz declined to comment immediately. (MT)

Deputy Speakers Appointed

The State Duma appointed United Russia's Oleg Morozov and Yury Volkov as deputy speakers on Wednesday, Interfax reported.

Morozov will be one of two first deputy speakers. Lyubov Sliska is the other. (MT)

Tourists Robbed on Arbat

Unidentified thieves stole the belongings of a group of foreign tourists from a bus parked near the Foreign Ministry building in central Moscow on Wednesday, police said.

After the tourists left the bus for a walk along the Arbat, the attackers broke into the bus, threatened the driver and stole video cameras and clothes, a police source said, Interfax reported.

The driver reported the incident to police after the thieves left. The nationality of the tourists was not reported. (MT)

Mine Blast Kills 2

An explosion tore through a Siberian coal mine Wednesday, killing two miners, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Three miners who were in the immediate vicinity of the blast, in a storeroom of the Severnaya mine in the republic of Khakasia, managed to escape, but two of their colleagues were killed, said ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov.

Thirty-nine other miners were evacuated safely from the shaft, he said. (AP)

Sewer Blamed for Hepatitis

Authorities on Wednesday blamed a hepatitis A outbreak in Nizhny Novgorod on an accident in the sewer network.

A total of 867 people, including 166 children, remained hospitalized Wednesday, according to a duty officer in the local emergency situations office.

The accident occurred after municipal officials turned off the water supply to a water treatment plant in the city, he said. Officials are now sanitizing the polluted pipes and vaccinating people living in affected neighborhoods. (AP)

Putin Sends Letter to Jordan

The Kremlin issued a letter Wednesday from President Vladimir Putin to Jordanian King Abdullah II, in which Putin said that the situation in Chechnya was "steadily normalizing."

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov, in Jordan on a tour of the Middle East, delivered the letter personally to the king.

Meanwhile, in Chechnya gunmen launched two separate attacks, killing one police officer and wounding four others, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

A group of heavily armed assailants fired on three police cars in the Shelkovskoi district late Tuesday, killing one policeman and wounding three, ministry spokesman Roman Shchekotin said. (AP)

Ukraine-Moldova Talks

KIEV -- Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin said Wednesday he hoped talks aimed at resolving the final status of the breakaway republic of Transdnestr would begin by November.

Voronin came to Kiev to discuss President Viktor Yushchenko's seven-point peace plan for the region, which borders Ukraine. Voronin said getting the talks underway would be "the most important breakthrough."

Yushchenko's plan envisions granting broad autonomy to Transdnestr within Moldova. Officials from Moldova and Transdnestr plan to meet in Odessa next month. (AP)

Kazakhs Monitor Embassy

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- Prosecutors in Kazakhstan will monitor U.S. Embassy activities aimed at supporting the country's December presidential elections, the Prosecutor General's Office said Wednesday.

Prosecutor General Rashid Tusupbekov and U.S. Ambassador John Ordway agreed that the embassy would coordinate its activities with prosecutors to make sure they comply with Kazakh laws, the prosecutor's office said in a statement. (AP)

Transdnestr Appeal

CHISINAU, Moldova -- A Moldovan human rights group on Wednesday asked Russia to help secure the release of two political prisoners held for 13 years in the separatist province of Transdnestr.

The European Court for Human Rights in June ordered the separatists, Moldova and Russia to free the two dissidents, who have been held since 1992 for allegedly rebelling against the separatist authorities. Separatist leaders defied the ruling. (AP)