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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

News in Brief

Chechen's Home Attacked

Up to four assailants armed with automatic weapons attacked the home of the speaker of Chechnya's upper house of parliament, seriously wounding his son and nephew, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The legislator, Vakhid Mantsayev, was not at his home in the town of Shchyolkovskoye at the time of the attack late Monday, the ministry's Chechen regional department said. The attackers fled.

In another Chechen town, Tsotsin-Yurt, located in the eastern Kurchaloi region, police killed two alleged rebels who were holed up in a house and fired shots when police tried to arrest them, the ministry said. (AP)

Accusations in Kiev

KIEV -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's allies accused the government on Tuesday of insulting Ukrainians with its call to scale back a popular program aimed at promoting population growth.

"It shows the disrespectful attitude of the new government toward our citizens. It is a crime against our future," said Vyacheslav Kyrylenko, a lawmaker and Yushchenko ally.

On Monday, the government announced that, in a proposal to be included in the 2007 draft budget, only women from poor families would receive the payments to which all women are currently entitled after the birth of each child. Yushchenko introduced the aid last year in an attempt to fight the plunging birthrate. (AP)

Kozulin Sentence Upheld

MINSK -- A Belarussian court on Tuesday upheld a 5 1/2-year prison sentence for an opposition politician convicted on charges of organizing an unsanctioned rally against the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Minsk City Court rejected an appeal from Alexander Kozulin's lawyers and ruled that his July sentencing by a district court was justified.

In a letter to judges released by his lawyer, Kozulin said the charges against him were fabricated. (AP)

Herdsmen Killed in Ukraine

KIEV -- An explosion at a tank range in eastern Ukraine killed three herdsmen, emergency officials said Tuesday.

The blast occurred at a testing range belonging to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's Kharkiv Institute of Tank Forces.

It killed the men as they were tending a herd of cows on the range, said Ihor Krol, spokesman for the Emergency Situations Ministry. (AP)

Strugatsky Heart Attack

Science-fiction writer Boris Strugatsky has been admitted to a St. Petersburg hospital with a severe heart attack, Interfax reported Tuesday.

As of Tuesday afternoon, doctors assessed Strugatsky's condition as "critical."

Strugatsky was born in 1933. In the Soviet era, he and his brother Arkady, who died in 1991, became famous for such classic novels as "Piknik na Obochine" (Roadside Picnic), which served as the basis for Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Stalker." (MT)

Illegal Migrants Detained

Federal Migration Service officials raided a major post office at Varshavskoye Shosse 37, in southern Moscow, on Tuesday and detained 90 foreign nationals who were residing in the country illegally, RIA-Novosti reported.

Some of the detainees were working at the post office sorting and loading mail when the raid occurred, migration officials said.

Most of the illegal postal workers came from Central Asia. (MT)

Excessive Car Emissions

The city government's environmental protection department has drafted legislation that would ban cars with excessive emissions from parts of Moscow and require the rest of the city's car owners to obtain special permits, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

The bill, which has been submitted to the City Duma, would allow only cars that meet Euro-2 and Euro-3 emission standards free reign in the city. (MT)

Norway Seizes Russian Boat

Norway's coast guard seized a Russian fishing boat for exceeding its quota of pollock, Interfax reported, citing an unidentified official in Murmansk.

The vessel, the Persei-3, was seized in Norwegian waters after fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and towed to the northern Norwegian port of Tromso. (Bloomberg)

NATO Plans Tbilisi Talks

BRUSSELS -- NATO is to offer Georgia talks on closer ties with the alliance, sources in the organization said Monday, a move likely to add to mounting tension between Tbilisi and Moscow.

"It's been agreed," a NATO source said of an accord between NATO ambassadors to open an "intensified dialogue" with Georgia.

The move is to be rubber-stamped by NATO foreign ministers meeting in New York on Thursday. The talks are a first step towards membership in NATO -- a step Russia strongly opposes -- but do not make entry automatic. (Reuters)

Poland Backs a NATO Bid

NEW YORK -- Polish President Lech Kaczynski said it would be "good" for Ukraine to join the NATO alliance despite a recent decision by Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych to put accession talks on hold.

"Naturally, this disturbed me," Kaczynski said about the decision Monday. "Our whole plan of stabilization of the area southeast of Poland was based on Ukraine's admission to NATO as soon as possible," he said. (AP)

Uzbek Excercises Start

Russia and Uzbekistan began joint anti-terrorism exercises Tuesday in the Krasnodar region.

The five-day exercises will involve helicopters, armored vehicles and artillery, as well as Russian paratroopers, Uzbek anti-terrorist specialists and special operations forces from both countries, said Andrei Bobrun, spokesman for the North Caucasus military district.

The two nations' first joint anti-terrorism exercises were held last year in Uzbekistan, underlining their growing rapprochement. (AP)

Uzbek Journalist Arrested

An independent journalist and rights activist in Uzbekistan has been arrested on bribery charges amid a continuing government crackdown on dissidents, his sister said Monday.

Ulugbek Khaidarov was detained by police in the central city of Jizzak on Thursday, when $400 was allegedly found in his pocket after he met with a local businesswoman, his sister Nortoji Khaidarova said.

During a search of Khaidarov's home, a police officer told Khaidarova her brother would be punished for his Internet publications and rights defense activities, she said. (AP)