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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Draft Deferments Curtailed

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed into law a bill cutting the length of military service, but also canceling many deferments from the draft, the Kremlin said.

The legislation, passed by both houses of the parliament in June, reduces the current two-year conscription term to 1 1/2 years beginning next year, then to one year in 2008.

The bill also abolishes five accepted reasons for military draft deferments and toughens the requirements for four others. One of the canceled deferments is for those caring for elderly and sick parents; another is for rural teachers and doctors. (AP)

Referendum in Transdnestr

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Lawmakers in the self-proclaimed autonomous Transdnestr republic voted Wednesday to hold a referendum on independence from Moldova on Sept. 17, the region's official Olvia Press news agency reported.

Transdnestr's legislature, the Supreme Soviet, approved the measure, which was introduced by the region's leader, Igor Smirnov.

The pro-Russian territory's separatist leaders decided to go ahead with the ballot in hopes of following the example of Montenegro, the Balkan republic that separated from Serbia in a referendum in May.

In the referendum, Transdnestr's estimated 400,000 voters will be asked whether the region should formally secede from Moldova, and if it should later unite with Russia. (AP)

Inflatable Spacecraft Launch

A Russian rocket carrying an experimental inflatable spacecraft blasted off Wednesday on a mission to explore the possibility of building a commercial space station, officials said.

The Genesis I spacecraft lifted off at 6:53 p.m. Moscow time aboard a converted Cold War ballistic missile from the southern Ural Mountains, the strategic missile forces said. It was not immediately known whether Genesis had managed to reach its designated orbit of about 550 kilometers above Earth.

Genesis I marked the first launch for Bigelow Aerospace, a startup founded by Las Vegas real estate mogul Robert Bigelow, who is trying to break into the fledging commercial spaceflight business. (AP)