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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Plane Crash Near Moscow

A small plane on a training flight crashed outside Moscow on Sunday, killing the pilot-instructor and a passenger, an emergency official said.

The Yak-52 plane hit the ground around 4 p.m. as it approached the landing strip near the village of Klimyentevo, a duty officer with the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

It was unclear who was at the controls of the plane at the time of the crash. No one on the ground was injured. (AP)

Montenegro Recognized

Russia said Sunday it recognized the independence of Montenegro, which voted last month to break away from a union with Serbia.

The announcement, posted by the Foreign Ministry on its web site, was largely a formality. But Moscow's statement symbolically appeared a day earlier than the European Union's recognition of Montenegro's independence, planned for Monday. Montenegro's independence marks the final breakup of the former Yugoslavia. (Reuters)

Officer Killed in Chechnya

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- A Russian officer was killed and two servicemen wounded in roadside bomb explosions in Chechnya, police said Saturday.

The officer died Friday in the town of Itum-Kale when a bomb went off. (AP)

Palestinian State Backed

Russia supports Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' idea of holding a referendum on establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

Polls show the referendum and the two-state proposal enjoy widespread support. (AP)

Activists Detained

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Several dozen opposition activists were detained in the center of Azerbaijan's capital, Baku, on Friday after they staged an unsanctioned protest in support of a newspaper editor who had been severely beaten.

The activists were later released. (AP)

Putin Meeting Prodi

ROME -- Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi will visit President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on June 20, the Kremlin's web site said.

Prodi, a former EU chief, took office last month after winning parliamentary elections in April and ousting the conservatives from power.

The Italian prime minister goes on his first official European tour next week, stopping in Vienna, Paris and Berlin for talks focusing on the European Union's future. (AP)

Crime Figure Sent to Spain

MADRID -- Zakhar Knyazevich Kalashov, a suspected Georgian crime boss, was delivered to Spain by Interpol officers following his arrest in the United Arab Emirates, the Spanish Interior Ministry said Sunday.

Kalashov, who was arrested May 7 on a Spanish warrant, was flown to Madrid in a military plane that landed late Saturday, a ministry spokesman said.

Spanish police had been searching for Kalashov since arresting 28 suspected gang members last year. They were accused of money laundering, fraud and other crimes.

Police called Kalashov "the invisible man" because he was seldom seen in public and there were few known photographs of him. (AP)

Human Trafficker Sentenced

A Moscow City Court sentenced Pavel Golenko to seven years in prison for helping recruit and send more than four dozen Uzbek girls to the United Arab Emirates to work as prostitutes, news reports said Friday.

The court convicted Golenko of human trafficking, forgery and other charges.

Prosecutors said Golenko worked with an organized criminal group to recruit women from Uzbekistan, promising them high-paying work in the United Arab Emirates.

Golenko brought the girls to Moscow, forged new passports for them and then seized the passports when the girls arrived in Dubai. The organizers then forced them into prostitution. (AP)

Senator Losing Immunity?

Levon Chakhmakhchyan, a Federation Council senator, faced the loss of his parliamentary immunity Friday after a federal sting operation allegedly caught him accepting $300,000 in extorted money.

The move to terminate Chakhmakhchyan's mandate came in an 18-1 vote of the senator's regional legislature in the southern republic of Kalmykia.

Chakhmakhchyan's fate now rests with the Federation Council, which could vote to expel the lawmaker at its next full session on June 23. (AP)

Orange Talks Break Down

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's political party said Monday that it saw no point in continuing talks with the Socialists on forming a governing coalition, possibly signaling the imminent collapse of 11 weeks of negotiations to reunite Ukraine's Orange Revolution allies.

The sticking point has been the post of parliamentary speaker, which both Our Ukraine and the Socialists have demanded.

The parties halted talks on Saturday and face a self-imposed Wednesday deadline to present an agreement to parliament. (AP)