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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Verdict Upheld in Killing

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld hooliganism convictions and relatively light prison sentences for seven people charged in connection with the 2004 killing of a Tajik girl in St. Petersburg, a court spokesman said.

Prosecutors, along with lawyers for the victim's family, had appealed the city court ruling in March that handed prison terms of between 1 1/2 to 5 1/2 years to the seven after a jury acquitted them of murder in the killing of nine-year-old Khursheda Sultonova.

Prosecutors and lawyers said the trial had procedural violations and said the defendants escaped due punishment for the killing. Lawyers for the defendants also appealed the ruling, arguing that they had confessed to the crime under pressure from police. (AP)

Ozerov Backs Troop Pullout

Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council's Security and Defense Committee, voiced approval Thursday of President Vladimir Putin's call for a gradual removal of troops from Chechnya, Interfax reported.

"The federal troops in Chechnya were there for the mission of restoring constitutional order in the republic," Ozerov said. "Today all the signs of stabilization are clear, and it is now entirely logical to reduce the number of soldiers in the republic."

Ozerov added that the excessive accumulation of military personnel in Chechnya deflected responsibility for the state of affairs in the republic from the local leadership. (MT)

$2 Billion for More Prisons

The head of the Federal Prison Service, Yury Kalinin, said Thursday that the government had allocated 54 billion rubles ($2 billion) for the construction of new prisons and renovation of existing facilities over the next 10 years, Interfax reported.

Kalinin said there were currently 846,000 people behind bars in Russia.

Of that number, 162,000 are in jail awaiting trial, he said. (MT)

Prosecutor's Home Attacked

Attackers fired grenades and set off two explosions at the residence of a prosecutor in Ingushetia before dawn Thursday, killing the prosecutor's brother and wounding 12 other people, the regional Interior Ministry said.

The attack took place in Nazran, Ingushetia's principal city, and targeted the house of city prosecutor Gerikhan Khabiyev.

Four of the injured were hospitalized, the ministry said, but their condition was not immediately known. (AP)

Bomb-Grade Fuel Returned

WARSAW -- The International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that it had safely removed a sizable quantity of Soviet-era highly enriched uranium from a facility in Poland as part of an effort to secure nuclear materials worldwide.

The IAEA said it removed for reprocessing 40 kilograms of the weapons-grade material on Wednesday morning from Poland's only nuclear research center to a facility near Novosibirsk, Russia.

The Russian facility is to turn "the fissile material into low enriched uranium that cannot be used to make a bomb," the agency said in a statement. (AP)

Austria Arrests 52 Georgians

VIENNA, Austria -- Authorities in the province of Lower Austria said Thursday that they had busted a loosely organized network of burglars suspected of netting $1.15 million worth of goods, and that they had arrested 52 suspects from Georgia.

Police said the arrests, which were made in recent months and announced Thursday, involved 13 separate gangs run by criminals from the former Soviet republic. Most of the Georgians were registered in Austria as asylum seekers, authorities said.

Police spokesman Franz Prucher said investigators believed the gangs carried out more than 300 break-ins at houses, apartments and businesses in the province. Some of the suspects allegedly were involved in armed robberies as well, officials said. (AP)

Reserve Duty for Georgians

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili announced Thursday that all Georgian citizens under 40 years of age would be required to train for two weeks with the army reserve, Interfax reported.

"This is necessary to ensure that citizens receive basic military training," Saakashvili said, adding that the training would help beef up Georgia's defense capability to face a number of impending threats.

"In the coming months, we need to train 100,000 people if this is what the state requires," Saakashvili said. (MT)

Newspaper Editor Sentenced

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- An Azeri court on Thursday sentenced an opposition newspaper editor to one year in a prison camp for libeling a candidate for parliament from the country's ruling party, the paper's deputy editor said.

Shakhin Agabeili was found guilty of insulting Arif Ragimzade, whom he ran against during last year's parliamentary election campaign, said Parvin Kyazimgolu, deputy editor of the newspaper Milli Yol. He could have received up to three years under Azeri law.

Ragimzade filed a lawsuit against Agabeili in connection with an unsigned article published last fall that alleged he had received bribes, among other things, Kyazimgolu said. (AP)

Russian Church in N. Korea

The first-ever Russian Orthodox Church in North Korea is to be consecrated this weekend, the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang said Thursday.

The Trinity Church is to hold its first services Sunday and a Russian delegation will be visiting the North to mark the occasion, Natalia Stepanova, an attache at the embassy, said by telephone from Pyongyang. (AP)