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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Terrorism Suspects On Trial

The trial of three suspects indicted in the terrorist attacks on the Rizhskaya and Avtozavodskaya metro stations in 2004, which claimed a total of 52 lives, will begin Nov. 7 in Moscow City Court, Interfax reported.

The trial of Murat Shavayev, Tamby Khubiyev and Maxim Ponaryin will be closed to the public, court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova told Interfax after a preliminary hearing on Tuesday.

The three defendants face charges of terrorism, murder and participation in a criminal organization, among others, in connection with the Rizhskaya bombing. (MT)

Russia No. 2 in Child Porn

LONDON -- The United States and Russia host the bulk of the world's child-abuse web sites, according to a British-based Internet monitoring group.

The Internet Watch Foundation reported Tuesday that 51 percent of child-abuse content was traced back to the United States and 20 percent to Russia.

The foundation said the problem in Russia was a lack of any centralized authority to take ownership of the problem. He said there was no hotline that people could use to report web sites. (Reuters)

Kidnapping Suspect Held

STOCKHOLM -- A Swedish court on Tuesday detained a Russian man accused of being involved in the 1999 kidnapping of a photographer in Chechnya, pending an extradition request by Russian authorities.

The 29-year-old man, identified in court documents as Magomed Uspayev, with the alias Maga Zahkijev, is accused by Moscow of taking part in the kidnapping of Vladimir Yatsina, a photographer for Itar-Tass. Yatsina was captured by Chechen rebels in July 1999, and later murdered by those who held him hostage.

Sweden's Justice Department received a Russian extradition request for Uspayev earlier this month, which will be decided at a later date. (AP)

Convent Closed in Tyumen

Officials in the Tyumen region have closed the St. Joan of Shanghai convent for violations of the federal law on religious organizations, Interfax reported.

Alexander Odintsov, head of the Federal Registration Service's Tyumen branch, said the convent, headed by a U.S. citizen was involved in activities not provided for in the law. He declined to elaborate. (MT)

Joint Exercises Rescheduled

A joint Russian-U.S. military exercise that was postponed amid opposition from nationalist parties will go ahead in 2007, Defense Ministry officials said Tuesday.

More than 200 U.S. servicemen had been set to take part in the Torgau-2006 joint training in central Russia in late September.

Russia postponed it on Sept. 5, saying there was no law allowing the presence of U.S. military on its soil. (AP)

Press Group Blasts Ashgabat

The death in a Turkmenistan jail of Ogulsapar Muradova, a journalist working for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, marks a low in the country's appalling human rights record, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday.

The press-freedom watchdog said Turkmenistan ranked with North Korea and Eritrea as one of the worst suppressors of free expression.

It said Muradova's "torture death" showed "the country's leader, 'President-for-Life' Saparmurat Niyazov, is willing to use extreme violence against those who dare to criticize him." (Reuters)

EU Delegation in Tashkent

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan -- A European Union delegation led by Pierre Morel, EU Special Representative for Central Asia, was in Uzbekistan Tuesday for a rare, discreet visit, diplomats said, just weeks after the EU hinted it might ease sanctions against the country.

Brussels suspended high-level contacts with Uzbekistan and imposed restrictions on military sales after the West accused the country of using indiscriminate force to quash a revolt in the town of Andijan in May 2005.

The EU said earlier this month it might consider reviewing the sanctions following talks with Uzbek officials. (Reuters)

Cyrillic Falls Out of Favor

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev called Tuesday for switching the Kazakh language to Roman script from the existing Cyrillic alphabet, following several ex-Soviet states who had sought to shed Russia's influence both linguistically and politically.

Roman script "dominates the communication sphere," he said, adding that it was "no coincidence" that countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan had abandoned Cyrillic in the late 1990s.

"We have to get back to the issue of switching to Roman script," he said in televised remarks. (AP)