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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Russia Presses Georgia

The Foreign Ministry urged Georgia on Monday to withdraw troops from a remote gorge bordering Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia to avoid a conflict with Abkhaz separatists.

"Actions by the Georgian leadership in the Kodori Gorge … could provoke developments under a dangerous scenario and lead to a new bout of tension and unpredictable confrontation," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Georgia sent troops to the Kodori Gorge last Tuesday to subdue a rebellion by a local militia leader and said Thursday that the gorge was fully under government control.

Georgian officials, meanwhile, said Monday that a series of fortified police posts would be built to divide the gorge from the rest of Abkhazia. (Reuters, AP)

Rocket Crash Probed

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the crash of a Russian-built rocket last week that spread highly toxic fuel over a wide swath of uninhabited territory in the country, a Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

The Dnepr rocket, carrying 18 satellites, crashed shortly after liftoff Thursday about 24 kilometers south of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

The crash caused no injuries or damage on the ground, but was feared to have seriously polluted the area with the highly poisonous fuel, heptyl. Kazakh emergency officials said the concentration of various toxic and other harmful substances in the crash area exceeded permissible levels by at least 1,000 times. (AP)

Rebels Get an Extra Month

The National Anti-Terrorist Committee decided Monday to give rebels in the North Caucasus an extra month to lay down their arms and face leniency.

Rebels had had until the end of August to start negotiating their surrender, but now they can mull over the offer until Sept. 30, the committee said.

Sixty-three rebels have given in since the committee's chief, Federal Security Service director Nikolai Patrushev, announced the offer after the killing of Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev in early July, RIA-Novosti said. (AP)

Suspect in Reporter's Killing

Saratov police have arrested a suspect in the killing of Yevgeny Gerasimenko, a journalist for the independent weekly Saratovsky Rasklad, Interfax reported Monday.

Police believe the suspect, identified only as a 39-year-old homeless man, smothered Gerasimenko in his apartment last Tuesday in a robbery. The arrest took place in Saratov on Sunday. (MT)

Call to Suspend Jury Trials

The Public Chamber's tolerance commission is calling for a suspension of jury trials in racist attacks after a St. Petersburg jury acquitted four last week in the killing of a Congolese student.

The commission said in a statement that xenophobia and racial intolerance is so widespread that some Russians cannot judge objectively when called to sit on a jury. Defendants in cases of racial violence should be tried by judges, the statement said. (MT)

3 Held in Stabbing Death

Three young men have been detained in connection with the stabbing death of an anti-fascist activist in southern Moscow in April, Interfax reported.

The suspects were detained on July 24 while returning by train from a rock concert in Kiev, Interfax reported. They had admitted to killing Alexander Ryukhin on April 16, the news agency said, citing city police. Ryukhin, 19, was attacked by a group of young men and stabbed once in the chest with a knife. He died almost instantly. (MT)

Iranian Attacked in Metro

Three men attacked a young Iranian man on the platform of the Frunzenskaya metro station Sunday evening, Interfax reported Monday.

The three men beat up the 20-year-old Tehran native at around 8:40 p.m. and fled, Interfax said. Police have classified the crime as hooliganism. (MT)

Investigators to Go to Iraq

The Prosecutor General's Office has opened an investigation into the killing of five employees of the Russian Embassy in Iraq earlier this summer, Izvestia reported Monday.

Investigators will travel to Iraq to try and solve the killings in cooperation with Iraqi law enforcement officials, the newspaper said, citing the Prosecutor General's Office.

Four diplomats were kidnapped in Baghdad on June 3 and one more employee of the mission was killed during the kidnapping. An al-Qaida-linked group has claimed responsibility. President Vladimir Putin has promised to bring the killers to justice. (MT)