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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Saakashvili, Putin to Meet

President Vladimir Putin and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili have agreed to meet for face-to-face talks, as tensions between the two countries continue to spiral downward over the situation in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia.

The Kremlin said Saturday that Putin had agreed during a telephone conversation to Saakashvili's proposal to meet for "discussions on a whole complex of bilateral problems."

The meeting is to take place June 13 in St. Petersburg. (AP)

Nenets Governor Named

President Vladimir Putin has suspended Alexei Barinov as governor of the Nenets autonomous district and appointed a former KGB officer to run the region temporarily, Kommersant reported.

Valery Potapenko, the district's chief federal inspector, will serve as acting governor while prosecutors investigate Barinov on suspicion of fraud and embezzlement.

Potapenko worked with Putin in the Federal Security Service's St. Petersburg branch and earlier worked as a KGB officer in Tajikistan, Kommersant said Saturday. (MT)

Lavrov Welcomes Iran Talks

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the U.S. offer of direct talks with Iran, saying that Moscow feels no jealousy about the American involvement.

"If it becomes possible to resolve the problem through direct bilateral talks between Iran and the United States, nobody will be distressed," Lavrov said in an interview reported by Rossia television, which was to broadcast it late Sunday. (AP)

Daring Ingushetia Raid

ROSTOV-ON-DON -- Unidentified gunmen killed two security officers and wounded another one Sunday in a bold raid in Ingushetia.

Gunmen riding in a car fired on a vehicle carrying three officers of the Federal Security Service in Nazran, the local branch of the Interior Ministry said. One officer was killed on the spot and another later died of wounds in a hospital. The third agent remained hospitalized with wounds, it said.

In Chechnya on Saturday, three officers with the regional police force were badly wounded when their vehicle hit a radio-controlled land mine. Another police officer was wounded when militants detonated a remote-controlled explosive device. Shortly after, another police officer was wounded as law enforcement agents worked to defuse yet another self-made bomb. (AP)

Rumsfeld Scolds Russia

SINGAPORE -- Dismissing Iran as a terrorist state, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld chided China and Russia for backing Tehran's participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a group that ostensibly aims to fight terrorism.

"It strikes me as strange that one would want to bring into an organization that says it is against terrorism, the leading terrorist nation in the world, Iran," Rumsfeld said Saturday in remarks at a regional security conference.

Iran is an observer to the SCO. (AP)

Gay Attack Investigation

A U.S.-based human rights group called on Russian authorities to open a full investigation and prosecute those responsible for violent attacks by nationalist protesters on participants in last month's gay rally in Moscow.

Human Rights Watch on Friday also urged prosecutors to drop charges of holding an unsanctioned demonstration against gays who took part in the May 27 event. (AP)

Alkhanov Praises Sharia Law

PARIS -- Chechen President Alu Alkhanov said he would prefer his republic be governed by Sharia law and suggested adapting the Islamic code.

Speaking in Paris after talks with the Council of Europe late last week, Alukhanov insisted that Sharia, or Islamic law, could be interpreted in ways consistent with the norms and values of modern democracies.

He played down concerns that the republic's prime minister, Ramzan Kadyrov, was instituting elements of Sharia against the wishes of the Kremlin authorities who sponsor the Chechen government.

He also dismissed reports of conflicts with Kadyrov. (AP)

$185Bln Slated for Arms

Russia is to spend $185 billion on its weapons program from 2007 to 2015, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

"A little less than 5 trillion rubles are being assigned for a nine-year period. The question is what to spend it on," Ivanov told a meeting of the government's military-industrial commission Friday, Interfax reported. (AP)

Helicopter Crash Kills 3

Three people died when a Mi-8 military transport helicopter crashed on the approach to landing in the Kemerovo region, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Twelve more people were rushed to the hospital, and three of them required emergency care. (AP)

Train Hits Bus, 6 Dead

A train collided with a passenger bus at a railroad crossing in the Voronezh region, killing six people and injuring several others, an emergency official said.

The collision took place just before 6 p.m. Saturday south of Voronezh, about 475 kilometers south of Moscow, said Irina Andrianova, a duty officer for the Emergency Situations Ministry.

She said six passengers on the bus had been killed and that there were other injuries. (AP)

Ukraine Eyes Foreign Troops

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko has asked the parliament to urgently endorse the presence of foreign troops on Ukrainian territory for a multinational military exercise, a request that came amid a week-long protest sparked by the arrival of a group of U.S. Marine reservists.

Yushchenko's request, which was published on the presidential web site late Saturday, is expected to be taken up by parliament when it reconvenes on Wednesday. The 200 Americans arrived last week on the Crimean Peninsula at the invitation of the Ukrainian government to help refurbish a Ukrainian training facility. (AP)