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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Oligarch Loads Crates

Jailed Yukos founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky is packing products manufactured in the Chita prison where he is serving his eight-year sentence, his attorney Natalya Terekhova told Interfax on Monday.

Prior requests from Khodorkovsky for permission to pursue academic work reportedly have been rejected by prison officials, she said.

Khodorkovsky has a good relationship with other inmates and with the prison administration, Terekhova said. (MT)

2 Die in Bus Blast

CHISINAU, Moldova -- Prosecutors in the self-proclaimed Transdnestr republic detained two local residents in connection with a deadly explosion on a bus, officials said Monday.

Investigators believe the blast, which killed at least two people and seriously injured at least 11 others, was caused by two grenades that exploded at the back of the bus near a busy commercial area, said Alexei Dolta, who was leading the investigation.

A six-year-old child died in the hospital from injuries suffered in the blast. Itar-Tass reported that the child, Alisa Kravzova, and one of the injured, identified as Sergei Kapustin, were Russian citizens, citing hospital sources.

The other person who died in the blast was a 69-year-old local man, identified as Viktor Evsyukov. (AP)

Ballyev Gets 17 Years

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- A former press secretary to the autocratic Turkmen president has been sentenced to 17 years in jail, a rights group said in a statement Monday.

Kakamurat Ballyev, one of the architects of Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov's cult of personality, was convicted by a Turkmen court and sentenced on unspecified charges last week after a closed trial, the Turkmen Human Rights Initiative group said in a web-posted statement.

Ballyev was arrested in late June, several days after a group of foreign diplomats and journalists, as well as several Turkmen nationals, were charged with espionage. (AP)

Protesting 'Judicial Farce'

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Lawyers for relatives of a murdered opposition politician and two other victims on Monday walked out of the court hearing the case to protest what they called a "judicial farce."

The February killing of Altynbek Sarsenbayev and the trial of 10 men charged with the crime -- including Senate administration chief Erzhan Utembayev -- has roiled politics in Kazakhstan.

Serikkali Musin, a lawyer for Sarsenbayev's family, said he and two other lawyers representing the families of Sarsenbayev's driver and bodyguard, who were killed along with the politician, walked out of the courtroom Monday at the request of their clients. (AP)

FSB Texts Chechen Rebels

Russia's intelligence services have found a new way of getting a surrender appeal to Chechen separatist rebels -- they are sending it to mobile phones by SMS text message.

Mobile phone subscribers in the republic of Ingushetia, which neighbors Chechnya, have begun receiving SMS messages from Russia's state anti-terrorist committee urging rebels to take up an offer to disarm in exchange for a fair trial.

The message provides four telephone numbers for rebels to call to negotiate an end to "their participation in illegal armed groups." (Reuters)