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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Putin Pushes Immigration

President Vladimir Putin on Monday approved a plan encouraging immigration of "compatriots" from former Soviet states as a remedy for a catastrophic population decline.

Putin's decree, posted on the Kremlin web site, authorizes a state program on "assisting the voluntary immigration of compatriots living abroad" and set up a state commission to oversee the process.

It offers cash and social benefits for those who come. But it gives only a vague definition of "compatriots," describing them as people "brought up in the traditions of Russian culture … who do not want to lose links with Russia."

A Kremlin spokesman said the plan embraced "holders of Russian passports, Russian-speakers with dual citizenship or people who are planning to apply for Russian passports." (Reuters)

Thunderstorm Hits Moscow

Lightning struck a trolleybus, and several trees fell on cars as well as on a building during a fierce thunderstorm in Moscow on Monday. No injuries were reported.

Deep water temporarily closed several streets to traffic, including Ulitsa Petrovka and Shosse Entuziastov, police said.

The city weather bureau predicted more rainshowers this week. (MT)

Lightening Kills Footballer

Lightning killed a football player during a match in Samara, Interfax reported Monday.

"One footballer died on the spot. Another is clinically dead, but is now alive," a local emergency response official was quoted as saying.

The accident happened Sunday during a game between football teams from the towns of Sergiyevsk and Tolyatti. (Reuters)

17 Drown in Moscow

A total of 17 people drowned in Moscow's rivers and ponds from Friday to Sunday, Interfax reported Monday, citing the city's ambulance service.

A total of 38 people have drowned since June 1, when City Hall officially opened the swimming season. Last year, 29 people drowned over the same period.

The higher number appeared linked to a heat wave that has swept over Moscow this month. Alcohol is the main cause of drowning deaths.

The Emergency Situations Ministry said Monday that 308 people drowned across the country over the weekend, Interfax reported. (MT)

Ties With Montenegro

Russia established diplomatic relations with Montenegro on Monday, the Foreign Ministry said.

The two governments exchanged notes in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica, from their foreign ministers agreeing to establish embassies, the ministry said.

Earlier this month, Montenegro's parliament declared its nation's independence after Montenegrins voted in a referendum to end their union with Serbia, dissolving the last vestiges of the former Yugoslavia. (AP)

Gongadze's Mother Doubts

KIEV -- The mother of a Ukrainian journalist slain nearly six years ago still doubts that a body in the morgue is that of her son, Heorhiy Gongadze, and will continue to refuse burial, a Ukrainian newspaper reported Monday.

Gongadze, who wrote about high-level corruption on an Internet news site, was abducted in 2000, and a beheaded body was later found in a forest outside Kiev.

"I do not want to bury a stranger's remains," his mother, Lesya Gongadze, was quoted as telling Gazeta Po-Kievsky. "Maybe the Prosecutor General's Office believes that if they give me the body, it will remove them of any responsibility for this dragged out case." (AP)

Case of Missionary's Slaying

RIGA, Latvia -- Latvia's Supreme Court began hearing an appeal Monday by two men convicted of murdering an American missionary in 2004.

Karlis Magone was sentenced to 20 years and Ingus Smitkins to 15 years in prison in October for killing and robbing Drew Rush, a missionary with Military Ministry, a branch of Campus Crusade for Christ, in 2004. Both men also received three years probation and had their property confiscated.

The men were convicted of murder in the act of robbery for strangling Rush in his apartment on Oct. 27, 2004. They robbed Rush of 1,000 lats ($1,800) in cash and stole two laptop computers and other items from his apartment. (AP)

Jewish Cemetery Desecrated

VILNIUS, Lithuania -- A Jewish cemetery near the Lithuanian capital was desecrated overnight, with 19 tombstones toppled and some smashed, the head of the country's Jewish community said.

Simonas Alperavicius said the attack at the cemetery in Suderve, 26 kilometers east of the capital, Vilnius, probably took place sometime Saturday night.

Alperavicius said one of the desecrated tombstones was that of a well-known Yiddish linguist from Lithuania, Chackelis Lemchen. He said police were investigating. (AP)

Niyazov Fires Editor

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov fired his former press secretary as editor of a military newspaper, accusing him of committing professional errors and an unspecified crime, the state-run Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper reported Monday.

Kakamurad Ballyyev served as Niyazov's chief spokesman until August 2002, when he became editor of Esger newspaper.

Neutral Turkmenistan said Niyazov fired Ballyyev on Saturday for "serious shortcomings in his work and committing a crime." (AP)