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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chaika's Picks Approved

The Federation Council on Friday approved the new Prosecutor General Yury Chaika's decision to replace five top deputies and the country's chief military prosecutor.

"These are the people who are capable of fulfilling orders set by the president and parliament," Chaika said, Interfax reported.

"The core of my team has [now] been formed," he said.

The Federation Council approved all six of Chaika's appointments: Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky, First Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Buksman, and Deputy Prosecutors General Ivan Sydoruk, Ivan Semchishin, Viktor Grin, and Yury Gulyagin. (AP)

Missiles Fell Far From Port

General Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of the General Staff, on Friday denied reports that a North Korean missile fell close to Russia's shoreline.

"These launches presented no direct threat to the territory of the Russian Federation," Baluyevsky told State Duma deputies.

State-controlled Channel One television reported Wednesday that one missile fell into the Sea of Japan a few dozen kilometers from the Far East port city of Nakhodka, and that residents tried to approach the North Korean consulate there to demand an explanation.

But Baluyevsky said the missiles fell at a latitude of about 40 degrees north -- which is roughly 300 kilometers from the Russian shore. (AP)

U.S. Presses Russia, China

WASHINGTON -- A top U.S. diplomat on Sunday urged China to put pressure on North Korea to end its missile tests and to return to international nuclear disarmament talks.

Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns also indicated the United States would not grant the North direct talks in the wake of Pyongyang's test-firing of seven missiles that rattled northeastern Asia and beyond.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing spoke by telephone with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday on the "UN Security Council's deliberation of North Korea's test -firing of missiles," the Chinese ministry said in a two-sentence statement posted on its web site. (AP)

Klebnikov Appeal to UN?

The journalism watchdog group Reporters Without Borders on Friday called for the leaders of Russia and the United States to request a UN investigation into the killing of journalist Paul Klebnikov.

The American, who was editor of Forbes magazine's Russian edition, was gunned down on a Moscow street on July 9, 2004. Two men were brought to trial on charges of carrying out the killing on behalf of a Chechen separatist who was the subject of a critical book written by Klebnikov, but were acquitted.

"At the end of a farce of a trial … it is clear that justice even in such a high-profile case remains elusive in Russia," the journalist group said. (AP)

Belarus Prevents Rally

MINSK -- Police thwarted an attempt by protesters to hold a rally in Minsk on Friday in memory of opposition figures who have disappeared.

About 60 people had gathered at Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad, the site of unprecedented demonstrations against President Alexander Lukashenko earlier this year, before city police and riot police forced them off the square and made them leave with their hands behind their heads.

The demonstrators held portraits of missing people who made the opposition groups say were targeted because they crossed Lukashenko. It was the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Dmitry Zavadsky, a Russian TV news cameraman, who went missing after he left for Minsk airport to meet a Russian colleague. (AP)

Kazakh Decries Interference

WASHINGTON -- Kazakh Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokaev, in remarks apparently directed at the United States, rejected any attempts by outsiders to impose systems of governance on his country.

Tokaev said Thursday night that that principle was an underlying tenet of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a six-nation alliance that includes China, Russia and four nations of Central Asia, including Kazakhstan.

The SCO, as it is commonly known, is sometimes viewed as anti-American in outlook. Tokaev's presence in Washington, however, suggested interest on both sides in maintaining good relations. Tokaev spoke at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. (AP)

Crimean Tatars Clash

KIEV -- Crimean Tatars clashed with local residents of Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea on Saturday in a land dispute that was the latest sign of ethnic violence in the country.

The fight erupted when members of the Tatar community tried to prevent local businessmen from building market stalls on the site of an ancient Tatar memorial in the town of Bakhchisarai, Interfax reported.

Police officers were able to stop the clash, but at least one person, a city official, was injured. (AP)

Tajiks Rename Mountains

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan -- The Tajik government has renamed two peaks in the Pamir Range to further cut the mountainous nation's links to the former Soviet Union.

The 7,134-meter Lenin's Peak was renamed Independence Peak and the 6,940-meter Revolution Peak was called Abu Ali ibn Sina, after the 10th- to 11th-century scholar and physician known in the West as Avicenna, the president's press office said last week.

The government also resolved to name a previously nameless 6,910-meter peak in the Pamir Range after Abuabdullo Rudaki, a prominent Tajik poet who lived in the 9th and 10th centuries. (AP)