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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Russia Joins NATO Patrols

BERLIN -- Russia will send ships early next year to help in NATO patrols of the Mediterranean Sea aimed at intercepting boats suspected of links to terrorism, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Wednesday. The NATO patrols began after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and have hailed some 65,000 vessels.

"Around the end of January 2006 we shall send a group of ships from our Black Sea fleet to take part," Ivanov said after a meeting with NATO counterparts in Berlin. (Reuters)

Man Escapes From Court

ST. PETERSBURG -- A man sentenced to four years' imprisonment Tuesday was able to escape by walking out of a St. Petersburg court because no court marshal was present to stop him, court officials said.

Alexei Popov, who was convicted of drug-dealing, walked out of the courtroom just before a police escort arrived at the city's Vasileostrovsky district court to take him to prison, the court's criminal department said. Police are now searching for the fugitive. (AP)

Congolese Student Killed

ST. PETERSBURG -- A student from Congo died Wednesday in a St. Petersburg hospital several days after being attacked by unknown assailants, a prosecutor's office spokeswoman said.

Roland Epassak, 29, was hospitalized Friday night after the attack in the city, said city prosecutor's spokeswoman Yelena Ordynskaya.

About 50 African students and local residents gathered Wednesday in front of the academy where the Congolese had studied to protest against nationalist violence. Ordynskaya, however, said that prosecutors were not treating the crime as racially motivated and suggested it could be an act of hooliganism or robbery. (AP)

Rebel Aide Killed

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Pro-Moscow Chechen forces on Wednesday killed an aide to new Chechen rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, the Chechen Interior Ministry said.

The rebel figure, identified as Shamil Muskiyev and described as being in charge of religious affairs, died in an operation in the town of Argun, east of Grozny, in which four other suspected militants also died, said Interior Ministry spokesman Ruslan Atsayev.

Two Chechen policemen were also killed in the shootout, he said. (AP)

Opposition Rally Attacked

NALCHIK -- An unidentified group broke up an unsanctioned rally Tuesday that was organized by supporters of opposition politician Garry Kasparov, one of his aides said.

Around 150 people gathered on a square in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, to protest the scrapping of direct gubernatorial elections, said rally participant and Kasparov aide Marina Litvinovich. Kasparov was not at the rally. (AP)

Prison Fast Ends

About 180 prison inmates ended a three-day hunger strike they had called to protest alleged violence by prison authorities, news agencies reported Wednesday.

The protest at a prison in the Ulyanovsk region ended Wednesday, said Vasily Zima, an aide to regional prosecutors, Itar-Tass and Interfax reported. Prosecutors are investigating allegations against some prison staff of abuse of office, the agencies reported. (AP)