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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Lavrov's 'Hidden Motives'

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday accused the United States of having "hidden political motives" for a report that said Moscow turned over information on U.S. military plans to Saddam Hussein during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"How this was done allows one to speculate that this has hidden political motives and that this is being done in connection with Iraq, but I can hardly be sure of it," Lavrov said. "It is unclear to us why the international community has to learn about such facts regarding Russian intelligence cooperation in Iraq from the media."

The Pentagon report, released Friday, said Russia obtained information from sources "inside the American Central Command" in Qatar and passed it to Hussein through Russia's ambassador in Baghdad, Vladimir Titorenko. (AP)

Mi-8 Crash Kills 4

An Mi-8 helicopter crashed in the northern republic of Sakha on Monday, killing four people and injuring eight, an emergency official said.

The aircraft carrying five crew and seven passengers went down around 4:40 p.m. Moscow time as it was traveling to the village of Russkoye Ustiye, said Yulia Stadnikova, a duty officer at the Emergency Situations Ministry.

The dead included three crew members and one passenger, Stadnikova said. The injured were hospitalized.

The helicopter is owned by the company Polar Aviation. Investigators were traveling to the site to determine the cause of the crash. (AP)

Lithuania's Nazi Trial Ends

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- A court on Monday convicted Algimantas Dailide, who was deported from the United States in 2003 for lying about his past, of helping the Nazis murder Jews, but it deemed the 85-year-old too frail to serve jail time.

The Vilnius District Court said Dailide helped round up Jews for the Nazis as part of the Nazi-backed Vilnius security police during World War II, when nearly 90 percent of Lithuania's Jewish population was killed.

Prosecutors had asked for a five-year jail sentence.

Dailide, who traveled willingly from his current home in Germany to stand trial, denied the charges. (AP)

Human Smuggling Charges

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Two men from Ukraine have been arrested in Slovakia after they helped to smuggle a group of 25 illegal migrants -- believed to be Egyptians -- over the Slovak border, an official said Monday.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office in the eastern Slovak town of Kosice, Milan Filocko, said the two were arrested late Friday along with 16 immigrants near the border with Ukraine.

Filocko said that one of the immigrants, a 19-year-old Egyptian, died of exhaustion and hypothermia shortly after the group crossed the border. The whereabouts of the remaining immigrants were not known, he said. (AP)

Hope for Papal Visit

VATICAN CITY -- Long-strained relations between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches are improving quickly, and a papal trip to Moscow looks increasingly possible, a Vatican official said on Monday.

Some differences remain to be ironed out before Pope Benedict XVI could make the trip, but a new spirit in bilateral talks has already brought progress, said Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity. (Reuters)

Kazakhstan 'Worthiest'

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- The chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said Monday that Kazakhstan was the worthiest country in Central Asia to take over the group's revolving, six-month leadership.

Karel de Gucht said after meeting with President Nursultan Nazarbayev that he admired Kazakhstan's economic development as "a necessary cornerstone for a stable democracy."

"For the OSCE it is very important that in the future, one of the countries that, as we say, is 'east of Vienna' should chair the organization," de Gucht said. "In this connection, the Central Asian region is very important, and we consider that in this region Kazakhstan is the worthiest and most-possible candidate for this post." (AP)