Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Kadyrov Named Premier

GROZNY -- Chechen President Alu Alkhanov on Thursday named local strongman Ramzan Kadyrov as prime minister.

Alkhanov proposed Kadyrov's candidacy to the regional legislature, his office said. Kadyrov said he expected a quick approval.

The office of Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov, the legislature's speaker, said that lawmakers would vote on Kadyrov's candidacy Saturday.

Alkhanov has said Kadyrov's predecessor, Sergei Abramov, resigned this week because of poor health following a traffic accident, but Abramov himself denied that, saying he stepped down to give way to Kadyrov, who had served as acting prime minister. (AP)

Khodorkovsky Wins Ruling

Mikhail Khodorkovsky won a rare victory Thursday when the Supreme Court ruled that prison regulations prohibiting him from meeting with lawyers during working hours were illegal.

Khodorkovsky is working with lawyers on a case challenging his tax and fraud trial and eight-year sentence in the European Court of Human Rights. Lawyer Yury Schmidt said the ruling was "a small sign that, in some areas, our laws work."

Schmidt said lawyers previously had only been allowed to squeeze in meetings at the end of Khodorkovsky's day before lights out. Now they would be able to meet with him for the full four hours permitted by law, he said. (AP)

Nazarbayev Defends Probe

ASTANA, Kazakhstan -- The chief suspect in the murder of a Kazakh opposition leader is not being framed and confessed of his own will, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said Thursday, seeking to draw a line under a widening scandal.

The country's opposition has said it believes Altynbek Sarsenbayev was the victim of a political assassination and the suspect, Yerzhan Utembayev, the top civil servant in the Senate, would not have acted without orders from above.

Kazakhstan's parliament on Thursday approved the head of the president's personal guard as the country's new intelligence chief following his predecessor's resignation amid the assassination scandal. (Reuters, AP)

Police Abuse of Patients

KIEV -- Human Rights Watch criticized Ukraine on Thursday for its failure to end police abuse and for medical discrimination against HIV/AIDS victims and others at high risk of infection.

The New York-based rights group said the abuse was undermining efforts in Ukraine to combat what has become the worst HIV/AIDS epidemic in Europe. "The HIV/AIDS policies that Ukraine has put in place are generally good ones," said Rebecca Schleifer, a researcher with Human Rights Watch's HIV/AIDS program. "But until the government addresses the chronic abuses of people at highest risk of HIV/AIDS, it will have little hope of stemming its HIV epidemic." (AP)

4.5 Million Signatures

KIEV -- A pro-Russian Ukrainian opposition bloc said it had collected more than 4.5 million signatures for a referendum against joining NATO.

"We will do our utmost to force Yushchenko to do it. … He must hold a referendum," Viktor Medvedchuk, one of the leaders of the bloc, Ne Tak, said Wednesday.

The opposition bloc move reflects the feelings of many Ukrainians, particularly in the Russian-speaking east, who still have a negative attitude toward the alliance and Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's attempts to have Ukraine join what was the country's Cold War foe. (AP)

2 Uzbeks Denied Asylum

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- A Kyrgyz court on Thursday upheld a government decision to deny refugee status to two Uzbek men who had fled neighboring Uzbekistan after a violent crackdown on protesters in the city of Andijan last May.

The asylum seekers' lawyer, Khurnisa Makhaddinova, insisted that the two men should not be expelled to Uzbekistan, where they could face torture, adding that they already had been granted refugee status by the UN refugee agency. (AP)

Trotsky Inspired Blair

LONDON -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who wrenched his party from the left to the center of the political spectrum, said Thursday that he had been inspired to enter politics by a book about socialist icon Leon Trotsky.

"I might as well make a confession now," Blair said at the opening of a World Book Day event. "There were people who got me very involved in politics. But then there was also a book."

He said Isaac Deutscher's biography was the book that meant the most to him. Deutscher's three-volume work -- "The Prophet Armed," "The Prophet Unarmed" and "The Prophet Outcast" -- paints a sympathetic portrait of Trotsky, who helped Vladimir Lenin lead the 1917 Revolution but was later driven out by Josef Stalin. He was murdered by an agent of Stalin in Mexico in 1940.

Blair said the work "made a very deep impression on me, and gave me a love of political biography for the rest of my life." (AP)