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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Calls Against Anti-Semitism

Russia's Jewish leaders, rights activists and officials on Friday commemorated the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, and called for stepping up the fight against extremism and anti-Semitism.

Twenty-five people have been killed in hate crimes over the past year and more than 200 have been attacked, said Alexander Brod, head of the Moscow Bureau for Human Rights, which runs an EU-funded program monitoring xenophobia.

Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent State Duma deputy, said officials were not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism and xenophobia. United Russia unveiled a pact that calls on political parties to expel members who express racist or xenophobic ideas and to refrain from making election alliances with politicians who back such ideas. It urged all parties to sign it. (AP, Reuters)

U.S. Presses Russia

U.S. Ambassador William Burns urged Russia to use a Group of Eight summit it will host in July to show that it is dedicated to creating a transparent economy and strong democratic institutions, the U.S. Embassy said Saturday.

The G8 summit "is an opportunity for Russia to try and demonstrate a sense of direction in creating modern economic institutions and making clear that the investment climate here in the energy and nonenergy sectors is predictable and transparent," Burns said in comments to Interfax that were confirmed by the embassy. (AP)

Suspected School Plotter

Ingush police and security officers killed a Chechen suspected of leading a group of 11 militants that plotted to seize a school if the deadly 2004 school seizure in Beslan had failed, officials said Saturday.

Aslanbek Khatuyev was killed in a brief exchange of gunfire after resisting police and security officers during a document check in a settlement for Chechen refugees, Interior Ministry spokesman Roman Shchekotin said.

The officers were unaware of the man's identity during the shootout, he said. (AP)

Lavrov Presses OSCE

Moscow is looking to a key European security agency to help protect the rights of Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states and other former Soviet republics, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Friday.

Lavrov met with Rolf Ekeus, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's high commissioner for national minorities, and praised his efforts to ensure that the rights of Russians left in the minority in several countries after the 1991 Soviet collapse are respected. (AP)

Gas Poisoning Kills 7

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Seven people were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in a home in a Stavropol region village, the Emergency Situations Ministry said Friday.

The seven, including two children, were in a house in Pravokumskoye where inhabitants used burners on a gas range or homemade hot plates to try to augment the heating. (AP)

Policeman and Cousin Shot

MAKHACHKALA -- Unknown gunmen gunned down a police officer and his cousin as they were traveling in a police car to their home in Khasavyurt, Dagestan, the regional Interior Ministry said Friday.

Two civilians also in the car were unhurt by the automatic weapons fire, said ministry spokeswoman Anzhela Martirosova. (AP)

Lukashenko Sees Victory

MINSK -- Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said Friday that he had no doubts that he would be re-elected in a March presidential election, and sternly warned Western nations not to interfere.

In an interview shown on all Belarussian television channels, Lukashenko vowed that he would not allow a repeat of the protests that brought opposition leaders to power in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan.

"There will be no disturbances. No one will climb onto the barricades to fight Lukashenko," he said.

"If there are provocations, we'll give them such a going-over they won't know what hit them."

An opposition candidate, Sergei Skrebets, pulled out of the race on Thursday, saying that a fair vote was impossible. (AP)

Kiev Protests to Minsk

KIEV -- Ukraine lodged a protest Saturday over what it said was the seizure of journalists' videotapes by authorities in Belarus.

Border guards seized three videotapes containing reports about the presidential election to be held March 19 from a crew from Ukraine's Inter television, said one of the journalists, Oleksiy Ivanov. He said the journalists were told the tapes might contain evidence of anti-government activity. (AP)

Uzbek to Go on Trial

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A prominent Uzbek rights activist and Nobel Peace prize nominee goes on trial Monday on charges of blackmail, embezzlement and slander.

The trial of Mutabar Tojiboyeva will be held in the town of Soldatsky, near the capital, Tashkent, and will be closed to the public.

Tojiboyeva was arrested in October en route to a human rights conference in Dublin. She headed the Fiery Hearts Club, a rights group based in Margilan, a town in the overpopulated Fergana Valley located next to Andijan, where government troops fired on thousands of protesters last May. (AP)

For the Record

Ukrainian Prime Minister Yury Yekhanurov, presenting the election program of President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party on Friday, expressed confidence that the party would triumph in the March parliamentary elections and form a coalition government despite its dwindling popularity. (AP)

Ukraine scrapped the country's last heavy bomber Friday under the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program. (AP)

An unidentified assailant shot and killed the head of Tajikistan's military academy, Major General Okimsho Khafizov, 41, on Friday as he entered his vehicle. (AP)

Several hundred Azeri villagers held a protest Friday against what they said was government repression, including a shootout this week that left one citizen and two police officers dead in the village of Nardaran. (AP)